Dr. Loubna Noureddin is a leadership scholar, executive coach, civil war survivor, orphans advocate, speaker and co-founder of Mind Market
Personalities and emails, two seemingly irrelevant entities, can be rather interrelated. In a highly virtual world, the latter is significantly telling of the former’s behaviors and habits. Your style and preferences may be more obvious than you think. Look no further than your email habits to identify some of the key changes you want to make to see more productivity and success in your day-to-day.
Do you find your emails are constantly taken out of context or your inbox overflowing with little reprieve in sight? These are just some of the tell-tale signs of personality permeating the boundaries of not only your email practice but also your ability to communicate effectively in a highly complex virtual space. Let’s take a closer look at these personalities:
Do you prioritize efficiency when it comes to email correspondence? Do you find your emails are often misconstrued or taken out of context? Are you quick to get to the point when addressing your team? Do you feel that adding a nice note to your email (such as “hope you are doing well”) is a waste of time?
If you answered “yes” to two or more of the above questions, then you might be more abrupt than efficient in your emails. Despite your drive for results, your emails might come off too cut and dry. This can result in little to no motivation on your team to do the work, and your inattention to the “small stuff” may derail the results that you’re seeking.
The quickest remedy for abruptness is to consider communication from the public eye. If an uninvolved public party were to glance at your emails, what would they think? If you appear too dry, then that may be how your emails are received. When drafting your next email, be sure to check in on your interlocutor first and then get down to business. Rest assured you can clearly convey your expectations and still be kind. As an extra tip, end your email with an offer of support or appreciation.
Do you find yourself writing three versions of your email before you send it? Do you get so concerned about how your email will be perceived that you keep re-reading it and modifying it? Do you often find yourself asking others for feedback about the email you have yet to send?
Your over-concern about collaboration and harmony might consume your day and delay your response time. In fact, it likely impacts your ability to make decisions. This means unnecessary bottlenecks for your team and in your day-to-day operations. How is that showing up for you at work? Do you tend to delay responding to your team because you do not have the full picture?
Notice the way you approach problems. Solicit feedback from trusted peers. Can you find ways to be clearer and more direct in your communication? Unfortunately, no one is capable of reading your mind. While having an internal dialogue is essential, sharing your thoughts is important. It helps others understand what is going on in your mind. It also explains your decisions, which may otherwise come as a surprise to others.
Does your email hijack your day, ultimately dictating the time you allocate to other responsibilities? Avoid becoming “the dictated” by assigning a specific time for emails. Literally, schedule it into your day and stick to a pre-established reasonable time frame. Reflect on how you can stick to it and make it happen. Be sure to create a system that streamlines your response process.
Everything comes down to your daily habits. If you find yourself completely overwhelmed with your email, then watch out for hoarding habits. The first step to resolving this sense of overwhelm is to take note of your approach to communication. Are you an avoider of face-to-face conversations? Would you rather write a long email over a quick call to solve a problem?
The comfort zone is hard to let go of. Some habits are difficult to let go of, giving in to a false sense of security in your methodical way of approaching our daily tasks. Awareness of your triggers and avoiders can be the first step toward significant progress in your work habits — a path toward a behavior change.
Do you find yourself looking for errors in everyone’s emails? Do you feel the urge to email them to be more accurate? Do sloppy writers trigger your intelligence? If this habit is directed toward one specific person, then the issue is not habitual. However, if you find yourself doing the same thing with many, then it is time to look within and find better use of your valuable time.
In your quest for clarity, you may tend to write absurdly long emails. This can be quite frustrating to others. If your email is more than six lines long, it is time to stop. Consider picking up the phone. More importantly, avoid “Reply All.” In your quest for clarity, inclusion or a port of safety, you might think that Reply All comes in handy. I have one word for it: waste.
Making A Change
If you want to see better results in your interactions with others, particularly when it comes to email, first identify the thoughts that are preventing you from the results you want. Ask yourself, “Why do I do what I do?” and explore the root cause — the belief — behind the behavior.
Commit to a small change every day, and use discipline to make it happen. Seek the help of trusted peers, a mentor or a coach. Find someone who does it well, and ask them for advice. Adopt a new habit, make it your own and watch your productivity soar.