Dear Reader

Do you ever misread emails? Some recent conversations with clients have centred on situations where they have experienced problems at work because of misunderstandings resulting from emails. As email is so much part of our day to day communication, I thought an Inspire edition on it might be worthwhile. I am not going to talk about the usual email etiquette, but viewing email communication at a deeper level.

See the right hand column for:

  • Next date for public Master Your Inner Critic, Release Your Inner Wisdom workshop on 21st February 2009 – See early booking offer of 20% discount and feedback from past participants
  • Other workshops or coaching that are linked to this month's Inspire topic of communicating effectively via email.

Best wishes

Melanie Greene

Do you ever misread emails?

What is communication made up of? – Our communication is not just made up of words, or even tone of voice and body language, but also our past experiences and beliefs which can help or hinder communication.

There have been times when clients and friends have been furious about particular emails sent to them, which when I look at them as an objective bystander with no history or axe to grind, seem like perfectly normal email exchange. It seems that in the absence of voice and body language we simply add in the tone of delivery often based on our past experiences and/or prejudices.

Therefore, if we have an email from someone who is always getting on our nerves or with whom we are irritated, when we read the email, we hear their tone of voice and/or see them in their usual annoying stance and project this onto the email. So what might be a perfectly rational email becomes emotionally charged. The opposite is also true. If we are infatuated with someone, we can misread their ‘How are you?', ‘Hope you have a great day', thinking they are saying much more than they are.

‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood.' Stephen Covey

The mood of the sender and receiverunlike telephone calls or face to face, where we can pick up on cues as to how the person is feeling, we never know what mood the person on the receiving end of the email will be in when they receive it and how that might colour their experience of reading it.

However, you do have control over your own mood. If you want your email to be read and responded to in a logical adult manner, then make sure that you are in that mood when you write it. Otherwise you are likely to choose language that reflects and betrays your thoughts and feelings, and hooks an emotional response in the recipient.

How does your mood affect how you write and respond to emails?

‘People are usually quite happy to consider a clearly expressed request – it is the accumulated backlog of resentment that gets their back up.' Anne Dickson

Warning signs to look out for:

  • Getting too task orientated – remember that like every interaction with someone, when you send an email it is a chance to either build, maintain or destroy rapport with others, so choose your words carefully
  • Watch out for trigger words or phrases – we probably know that with some people there are particular words or phrases that act like a ‘red rag to a bull'. If this is so then step into the other person's shoes: how are they going to react to what you have written?
  • Over reliance on email – an associate of mine was once running a team building workshop with an IT team who all had a strong Introversion preference on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. They realised that they all hid behind email rather than communicating with someone who sat in the same room and this was undermining their rapport with each other and their working relationships
  • Playing email ping pong – of course we are exchanging emails backwards and forwards with people in the course of a normal working day. However, if you know that the topic is contentious or your relationship is deteriorating, then relying on email will only make it worse. For me, if I sense that I am not communicating well with someone via email, I pick up the phone and speak to them.

What can you do to enhance your email communication with others?

Is there someone with whom you need to communicate more through face to face contact or via the telephone, rather than over relying on email?

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Master Your Inner Critic, Release Your Inner Wisdom

Saturday 21st February  - 9.30am – 4.30pm

What you receive: This programme includes a one day workshop, a copy of my book, and two follow up coaching emails to assist you in putting your learning into practice. For the whole package the cost is £100 plus VAT (£117.50).

Venue: Exeter Hall, Kidlington, Oxfordshire. Free parking, easy access to M40, A34.

The workshop is kept to a maximum of eight participants to facilitate open discussion and support.

Early booking offer if you book before 5th January the price is £80 plus VAT (£94).

Click here to email me for more details about the programme.

This workshop has been running for two years now and is very popular. Here are some comments from past participants:

‘Melanie's honesty and anecdotes ground the theory in practice'

‘Gave me space and time to think about my life and constant need to be busy, needed, active, running and juggling'

‘It has given me loads to think about, do and change'

‘Gave me the motivation to go forward, made me more determined'

‘I was feeling stuck and worn out. Now I really want to break through and change that.'


To order a copy of my book Master Your Inner Critic, Release Your Inner Wisdom, click here to email me for an order form. £8.99 plus £1.00 UK P&P.


Programmes we run that link to this topic of communicating via email include:

Managing challenging interactions

Understanding your interactions with others

Managing your mood

Communicating with confidence

Assertive communication

For more information about these programmes that can be run in-house or our coaching programmes call Melanie on 01865 377334 or email to arrange a time to speak in confidence.


‘Work joyfully and peacefully, knowing that right thoughts and right efforts inevitably bring about right results' James Allen

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