November's Communication Make Over


By JoJo Tabares We've all gotten them.  Those cryptic emails that we can't make heads or tails of.  You think..."Whoever sent this, must be trying to tell me something, but for the life of me, I cannot decipher what it could possibly be!" Email is a deceptively difficult communication skill to master.  Devoid of much of what makes up face-to-face communication (inflection, eye contact, body language, intonation and real-time interaction), an email can be misunderstood faster than you can say..."Hey what'd she mean by THAT?" Many people don't fully understand the impact their email can have on their reader and so they neglect to give it the attention it needs in order to produce the desired impression upon its recipient. This month's Communication Make Over will cover common mistakes in email communication.  Let's take a look at Connie Confusing's email she sent to all her friends.

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From: ConnieConfusing @ someisp.com To: Connie's Email List of Friends Subject: my dauter i have a question those of you with parents living please tell me how you take care of them my dd is doing a project and she needs research i know there are some of yu and we want to get some fedback if you can tell what caused parents to live with you how long they have live with you and if you have had any problems we could really appreciate it very much because we need about 50 families to give us some input for her projet so that the results will be a fair sampling i would appreciate as many of you who can reply as possible because this is a very important projt for her she is so happy with this course and this is the first time she have really gotten into a subject like this so i want to make sure she gets good response thanks

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As you can see, Connie's email is very difficult to read which obscures the message she is sending and makes it difficult for her friends to give it proper attention, much less a helpful response.  Why?  For starters Connie has used: * No punctuation, capital letters or paragraphs making it extremely difficult to read, especially on a computer screen. * Poor spelling requiring some double takes and a bit of clairvoyance on her friends' part. Let's see how much easier Connie's email is to read after just adding the proper punctuation and spelling.

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From: ConnieConfusing @ someisp.com To: Connie's Email List of Friends Subject: my daughter I have a question those of you with parents living.  Please tell me how you take care of them.  My dd is doing a project and she needs research.  I know there are some of you and we want to get some feedback.   If you can tell what caused parents to live with you, how long they have lived with you, and if you have had any problems, we would really appreciate it very much because we need about 50 families to give us some input for her project so that the results will be a fair sampling. I would appreciate as many of you who can reply as possible because this is a very important project for her.   She is so happy with this course and this is the first time she has really gotten into a subject like this so I want to make sure she gets good response.  Thanks.

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Additionally, the email is a jumble of thoughts some repeating themselves and others incomplete.  Let's see how much more effective Connie's email is when we reword her thoughts to present a more coherant and succint idea.

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From: ConnieConfusing @ someisp.com To: Connie's Email List of Friends Subject: Can you help my daughter with her school project? My dd is doing a project for school and she needs some help with her research.  If you have ever had your parents living with you, would you mind sharing a bit about it?  She's looking for what caused your parents to live with you, how long they lived with you, and if you have had any problems.   She needs 50 families to make it a fair sampling so we would appreciate it if all of you who have had that experience would email a short note about it. This is the first time she has really gotten into a subject like this and it would help a great deal if she could get big response.  Thanks very much. Connie Confusing

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Notice how the change of headline really helps to make it clear what Connie is talking about.   The next paragraph gets right to the point and then shares all of the details needed for Connie's friends to comply.  Notice, too, how it says that her daughter only needs a short reply.  This is helpful for some of Connie's friends who are very busy.  Further, it pulls at the heart strings when Connie reveals how excited her daughter is about this and how this is the first time she's been excited about a subject in school.

This is a much more effective email for Connie and her daugthter and a much less confusing and time consuming email to read and reply to for her friends.

I'll be back next month with another edition of Communication Make Over!  Until then...

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