Dear 3040 and Beyond:
I’m a new grad at a big firm and I think I’ve messed things up with my co-workers. They’ve been acting weird around me and my only office friend says I’ve been offending people in my emails. From my boss to my peers, it looks like I’ve made everyone mad. The thing is, I have no idea what kinds of stuff I could say in email that would piss people off! I’m a nice person and I haven’t had many problems like this before. Can you help?
In Hot Water
Dear In Hot Water,
As a millennial, I fully understand how difficult it is to create a substantial connection to our generation along with other generations in our working environment. First and foremost, do not take their distant companionship as a blow to your
personal character; instead, consider how your emails may be the root of 355b160ethe corporate hostility you are sensing. In a short amount of time, I have realized that along with the simple framework and organization of your business emails, it is absolutely essential that you pay attention to the tone of your writing.
According to LiteraryDevices.net tone is considered the attitude or approach the writer conveys through a written piece of work. The underlying voice of the author often mirrors personal beliefs about the audience or subject that can either benefit or hinder how the writer is viewed amongst their colleagues. We millennials stand at the forefront of technological communication and it is necessary that we pay close attention to how our tone is executed along with how it may be perceived by the targeted audience. Often times we are completely unaware that a specific tone is illustrated in our written communication and therefore I completely understand your frustration surrounding your situation.
I can specifically remember an instance during my freshman year where my tone was perceived in a way that completely contrasted my intentions. I developed an email that included constructive advice on our group’s collaboration seeing as though we were not getting a proper amount of work done in the time we were granted. My hopes were that this email would allow us to decide on a method to complete our project; instead, it lead to a blame game where I was the bully. With consideration, I realized I was completely tone deaf in my email. I disregarded the emotion and tone I was emanating and this caused confusion on my overall intentions. After learning from this incident, there are certain strategies I would incorporate today that I would not have thought about in the past.
My first piece of advice is to clearly communicate your point through the configuration of your email. To emphasize particular sections of information, use short sentences. Brief sentence structure is easier to read and easier to comprehend, eliminating confusion on the subject matter. To extend comprehension, add supplementary information to explain difficult material. A lesson in Business Writing reiterates the importance of clear sentences because in the corporate world, working in an accurate and timely manner is indispensable. Unwanted confusion can also lead to an immense amount of hostility because it calls for further instruction that is often mistaken for criticism or a controlling attitude. I know that structure may not appear to be the root of your problem, but the offensive nature of your emails may simply stem from overall confusion.
Pay Attention to Word Choice
Another thing that may provoke aggression is mislabeled blame due to word choice. Over the years I have realized that written communication can be problematic because your audience cannot see the body language or emotion you exemplify. This means the writer needs to be articulate in choosing the correct words to state their ideas or arguments. One simple rule to follow is to use I statements. “I have been having trouble understanding your blog posts,” is much less threatening than “Your blog posts are confusing.” Addressing the situation in this format also eradicates an attack on the receiver and instead puts responsibility on you. With this, please realize you are not saying you are wrong in your thinking. Alternatively, it says they are not necessarily mistaken in their viewpoint and it ultimately uncovers the situation without an aggressive approach.
Eliminate Personal Bias
Above all, I learned not to let my personal beliefs and values interfere with the task at hand. All to often we let subtle biases come in contact with our professional work. The General Medical Council explicitly states that everyone must be contacted considerately, fairly, and without discrimination. Though you presumably had no intentions of offending anyone with personal opinions, I encourage you to closely analyze your writing and make sure it is clear of indirect bias. It is of chief importance that emails be kept professional and the assignment assigned gets accomplished for the sake of the company’s reputation or survival.
A new job can be daunting especially being the “young grad” on the unit, but I encourage you to apply the information above to create a professional tone for your corporate emails. As a general rule, do your best to dispose of confusion and blame and scan your final product for personal opinions that may collide with those of your colleagues. Though emphasis on proper tone is often neglected, it is extremely important when it comes to partnership and networking in big business settings. I wish you the best of luck in establishing your voice amongst your acquaintances.