Email Empathy: How to Write More Effective, Inclusive and Engaging Emails
By Kim Arnold, International Communication Expert and the founder of Email Engagement, the #1 email writing training course.
Have you measured your EEQ recently? That’s your Email Emotional Intelligence. It’s a barometer of how much understanding you show towards other people in your emails.
LET ME GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE (A TRUE STORY).
A few years ago, a client had an email exchange with a senior leader in her organisation. He sent her a report.
She replied, ‘.’
He sent back ‘.’
Alarmed, she called him straight away.
‘Your email. It said, “”’
ALWAYS ASSUME POSITIVE INTENT
Email isn’t a sophisticated tool to capture nuance – it’s more of a blunt instrument. If you get a snarky email, chances are the sender didn’t mean it to come across like that. Perhaps they were in a hurry. Or they were just having a bad day. (
So, give people the benefit of the doubt and always ask clarifying questions.
WRITE TO CONNECT, NOT TO IMPRESS
Stuffy, formal phrases like, “” create instant barriers between writer and reader. The writer sounds distant and unapproachable. And for internal communications, this is a stone-cold culture killer. Formal language creates a ‘them-and-us’ environment, with diktats coming down from the ivory tower, instead of a common vision and mission.
So, choose more conversational language if you want to engage people: “Here’s everything you need to know about our new benefits policy.”
HAVE WORDS WITH YOURSELF
We tend to assume our own communication style is best. The late comedian George Carlin illustrated this ego-centric attitude brilliantly when he joked:
“Anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac.”
It’s easy to say that people who communicate differently to us are ‘wrong’. And to pat ourselves on the back for being ‘right’.
For example, we might say: “I hate fluffy intros on emails. I’m just a straight shooter – I tell it like it is. It saves everyone time.”
But for someone else, this directness might come across as rude.
For them, a soft email intro like “How was your weekend?” makes them feel seen as a whole person, not as just a cog in the system.
We need to flex our email style to suit our audience instead of doubling down out of misplaced pride.
So, try these techniques to rev up your EEQ and become the best thing in people’s inboxes!
By Kim Arnold, International Communication Expert and the founder of Email Engagement