Your day is rolling along quite nicely when POW, you read an email that makes your blood boil. Some upstart has sent you a communication that is so rude it has destroyed that positive vibe you were feeling only moments ago and you are now contemplating writing back with a smackdown that will really let your feelings be known. Before you do something you may later regret, take your hands away from the keyboard and read this blog instead!
EMAILS AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE
Over 300 billion emails will be sent and received in 2020 with the average office worker receiving around 125 per day! The sheer volume of emails we receive that require a response or contain information that we need to retain can be completely overwhelming but it is a crucial business tool that we should all know how to use and manage effectively. Managing your tone and being aware that the language you use can have an undesired impact are key to getting email correct.
RUDE EMAILS – IS IT YOU?
We’ve all been on the receiving end of THAT kind of email – the passive/aggressive commentary ones, the flat out rude ones, the overly condescending ones, the inappropriate ones, the inconsiderate ones – there isn’t a day goes by in which someone doesn’t receive an email that causes some sort of strife. But have you ever considered that you could be the perpetrator of such a crime?
Two studies were published in the Journal of Occupational Health and Psychology 2020 in which researchers looked at the impact rude emails, or email incivility, can have on employee wellbeing. This study determined there were two kinds of ‘rude’ emails – active and passive response.
ACTIVE OR PASSIVE
Actively rude emails were easy to pick as they displayed overt behaviour such as “demeaning or derogatory” comments, ALL CAPS TO SIGNIFY SHOUTING or inserting mean or sarcastic comments within the body of the email. Conversely, being passively rude within the framework of an email involves ignoring requests made by an original sender, making no reply whatsoever and responding to an email but not actually addressing the queries being made or even responding with something curt like ‘noted’ when someone has taken the time to write a polite and informative communication.
The distinction is important as it there is a need to understand the “commission of disrespect (active) and the omission of respect (passive)” if we are to then understand the nuances and the subsequent impact on this behaviour in the context of workplace stress and effect on your employees. I think we all know and understand that being treated in a manner that lacks respect is upsetting so consider how your team can be impacted by a rude email response in a professional setting and you can see how that can have far reaching implications for your business in terms of morale, culture and ultimately, productivity.
TIPS TO IMPROVING EMAIL ETIQUETTE
So how do we avoid the emotional charged, actively rude emails or the ambiguity generated by a passively rude email? It’s all about setting the company tone and expectation you have as a leader. Too easy! But not really. Let’s break it down a little more with some quick tips:
As you wade through at least 125 emails today, make sure your responses are not the ones that add to workplace stress. If 2020 has shown us anything, a little thoughtfulness can go a long way! Give the HRSS team a call if you need any support improving your communication style or that of your team – we’re always here to help.
The HR Staff n' Stuff team all contribute to our blogs. Enjoy the read!