Is the Tone of Your E-mails Sending the Wrong Message?

by Staff - Original publish date: May 8, 2013

Recent surveys have estimated that over 132 billion business emails are sent and received each day. With that much communication going on through emails, there’s lots of room for confusion and misunderstandings -- especially if you are unaware of how your personality style is perceived by other styles.

Follow these tips to make sure you are on the same wavelength as the recipient of your email.

Direct style emails: When exchanging emails with the Direct style, keep it short and to the point. Jump in to your main point and stop when you are done. When you send them an email that doesn’t require a response, don’t expect one. And don’t bother with a personal greeting or goodbye -- they won’t be offended if you leave it off.

Spirited style emails: The main thing you will notice when communicating by email with a Spirited colleague is that you may not receive a timely response. But when you finally do hear back from them, they will be apologetic. Their emails are likely to be lengthy and cover many topics, just as they do in face-to-face conversations.

Considerate style emails: Make your emails conversational -- just like Considerates are in person. Begin with a personal greeting such as “How’s it going?” or “Hope all is well with you.” Considerates will almost always send a response to every email you send them, even if one isn’t expected or required, just to say “thanks” or “let me know if I can help.”

Systematic style emails: Using bullet points is a good way to communicate with Systematic style colleagues. In any case, make sure your email is organized and logical. Stick to one topic per email and send a separate email if necessary to cover a different topic.

Test yourself. Read each email and see if you can identify which style each one is:

1. Subject: Great idea!
Hi Sam,
I was talking to Frank in Shipping, and he mentioned that their budget proposal was accepted as submitted, without any reductions. I think we can swipe some great ideas from them. Stop by my office and we’ll discuss. Thanks for your help with this!

2. Subject: Budget reformat
As I reviewed the budget proposal, several thoughts came to mind:

  • Highlight positive aspects of each option
  • Minimize duplication of information
  • Copy last year’s format to save time

Let me know if you can move ahead, or if you need additional information.

3. Subject: What do you think?
Hi Sam,
How’s it going? I was working on revising the budget proposal and thought we might want to emphasize the positive aspects of the various options more. I can work on some different formats if you think it’s a good idea. Let me know your thoughts.

4. Subject: Budget reformat
You need to reformat the budget options to highlight the positive aspects of each and minimize duplication of information. See what I did in last year’s proposal for direction. Budget is due on Friday. Let me know if you have any questions.

Answer: 1=Spirited, 2=Systematic, 3=Considerate, 4=Direct