Communication with your colleagues is an integral part of developing your personal brand. Our relationships with colleagues affect our personal brand in many ways, and the best way to ensure your reputation is not tarnished is to be conscientious on how you communicate within the office. You never know if one day a promotion depends on a peer review, or you need a reference for a new job. I urge you to consider your personal brand in every email, phone call, or conversation your share with your colleagues. For this post, I am going to focus on the topic of interoffice email communication.
How you communicate via email and how it affects your personal brand.
In my mind there are four kinds of “emailers”; The Non-Responder/Mass Sender, The One Liner, The Life Story Teller, and The To-The-Point-Action-Item Sender.
The Non-Responder/Mass Sender
This person never responds to your emails, whether it is in person or via email. You send them a question, update, or anything of importance and never hear back. You often find yourself going to them and saying, “in reference to the email I sent you regarding the Jones Account…”. This is a waste of both your time and theirs to have to refer to an email that was meant to increase the communication efficiencies.
On the flip side, there are days where you are deep in your work and suddenly your inbox is flooded with questions, statements, directions, links to random video, and forwards about cute cats and jokes about how men and women are different. This behavior takes you completely by surprise, as you often wonder if the lack of responses is a result of them not knowing how their email works.
If you read this and thought, “oh-no, I do that,” I urge you to consider how this effects your personal brand. If this is something you want to be known for, and then continue this behavior. However, when this has occurred in my experience, I often hear colleagues say things like, “John has serious issues with interpersonal communication. Don’t take it personally when he hammers you with emails out of the blue, or never responds for that matter.
This person, no matter what you ask, state, or put in your email has the uncanny ability to respond in five words or less. The have mastered responding with “k”, “yes”, “no” and “sounds good.” While there are appropriate times to respond to emails in this manner, this approach often makes the receiver feel that the One Liner does not care about what is being said.
Often this style of communication discourages others to even bother emailing the One Liner. If the sender needs sincere feedback, or the item requires a lot of attention, they may find a more reliable source, even if the One Liner is the area expert.
If this is your style, I suggest taking the time to evaluate if your one line responses are sending the wrong message and thus inhibiting your original goal of being efficient. Use this approach when appropriate, but consider what the sender is asking for, does it elicit a more through response.
The Life Story Teller
This person’s email generally goes something like this:
Thank you for your email regarding Widget Z. I did not initially read the email because I had a doctor’s appointment that kept me out of the office in the morning. I have a minor infection in my finger and it has delayed my ability to respond to your email. Things are improving, but it sure does hurt. I spoke at length with my manager regarding Widget X…
You get the point. There is a lot of information in the email, which yes does explain the delay in response, but is not necessary to include in an email. Emails which are written in this manner are time wasters both for the writer and the reader. Email communication should be relevant, to the point and action based.
If you find yourself writing emails that are more than a few paragraphs long, you should ask yourself if you are sending the right message and relevant content. Email writing like this has a similar effect as the One Liners. Its sends a message that the receiver’s professional time is not important and increased the likelihood that you will not be included in email communications.
This style of email writing is ideal for multiple reasons. By utilizing an effective and efficient communication style that clearly outlines objects, gets to the point, and highlights action items you are showing professional respect to your colleagues. Timely responses are key as well. If someone took the time to write you a to-the-point-action-item email, it is obviously a concern to them.
An example email of this nature would be something like this:
Thanks for your email regarding your project. I will be reviewing the information you sent over the next week. Can you please call me on Monday at 555-5512 to discuss the details further? Any time after 9:00 am works for me.
An email communication style such as this will reflect on your personal brand. You will send the message that you care about what the original sender said, you state your understanding of the message, and you communicate clearly what the next steps may be. It is hard to argue that this style will tarnish your reputation.
I urge you to assess your email communication style and how it may be effecting your personal brand. As Benjamin Franklin says, “It takes many good deeds to build a reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”