Without clear guidance, employees can embarrass your organization, break the law or leak confidential information through an email. Train new employees on these guidelines:
- How formal their writing should be. You may have separate guidelines for internal messages and those going to customers, vendors or other outsiders. Offer examples of acceptable salutations and sign-offs.
- Which words to use. Explain which words to include when communicating about certain aspects of your business and which words they should never type.
- How to handle confidential information. Provide examples of what should never be included in a message.
Remind all employees about your organizations’ email policies and the consequences for breaking those rules.
— Adapted from “Email Gaffes: Four Ways to Stop Messages Coming Back to Haunt You,” Monica Seeley, TechRepublic, www.techrepublic.com.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/liewcf.
When writing email, avoid using casual expressions that threaten to undermine your professionalism. Examples:
- Replace “Will you guys help me out?” with “Will you help me?”
- Rather than say “The folks from marketing are here,” say “The people from marketing are here.”
- Expressions such as “Oh man” come across as juvenile.
- Substitute informal salutations, such as “Hey” and “Yo” with “Hi” and “Hello.”
- Use exclamation points sparingly to avoid appearing too emotional and immature. Never use more than one exclamation point at the end of a sentence.
— Adapted from “Three Tips for Writing E-mail in Today’s Casual Workplace,” Barbara Pachter, Pachter’s Pointers, http://www.bar-barapachtersblog.com.
Direct communication is prized in the workplace. People who can speak their minds with confidence and compassion are likely to come out ahead. Consider these workplace scenarios:
- A co-worker is trying to win the boss’s favor by being a “yes man.” Don’t say “Why don’t you try having an opinion of your own for once?” Say: “I am not sure if you are aware of this, but I wanted to let you know that people are beginning to talk about the way you interact with the boss. You might want to reconsider your approach.”
- An employee’s work consistently disappoints. Don’t say “You make more mistakes than everyone else combined—what’s your problem?” Say: “I know that you are trying hard, and I appreciate your effort. However, I want to give you some direct feedback that I think will allow you to improve the quality of your work so it meets expectations.”
- Your boss is micromanaging you. Don’t say “Why are you watching every move I make?” Say: “I have noticed that you are watching me closely lately. How can I do a better job of giving you the results you want so that you feel confident in my abilities?”
Bottom line: Deliver a clear, neutral message that will not cause the person to react defensively. Your goal is to engage the person in a productive discussion.
— Adapted from “How to Be Direct Without Being a Jerk,” Steve Tobak, The Business Insider, http://www.businessinsider.com.
This is a guest post by Marlene Chism, author and speaker.
In my book, Stop Workplace Drama, I talk about how obstacles in your personal life always spill into your professional life. Most of the things that keep us stuck are not circumstantial. What holds us back and then becomes drama are our addictions, bad habits and character flaws. So how about looking at things you can stop doing? Making one significant change could change every other area of your life, including your workplace relationships. Here are 11 ways you can stop workplace drama:
- Stop comparing yourself to others. You are unique and so is the next person. As my algebra teacher used to say, you can’t compare an apple with a Billy goat. Instead, appreciate your blessings, and compliment others on their skills, abilities and attributes. If you want to improve in some area, take action, but quit using other people as the benchmark for your success.
- Stop engaging with negative people. Negative people are all around, but you don’t have to have the last word, nor do you have to point out to them how negative they are. Instead of engaging or trying to change them or their point of view, simply smile and respond with a statement like “Hmmm that’s an interesting take on things.” You can like someone and even work with that person without plugging into his or her negativity.
- Stop resisting. Complaining is a form of resistance. So is being stubborn and gossiping about who did you wrong. Once you have identified what is unpleasant, either change it or accept it. Anything else is just drama and an excuse to lose focus.
- Stop trying to be right. All drama is based on the need to be “right.” You don’t always need others to understand or agree with your point of view. If you know what you need to do next, do it and be OK with the fact that others might see things differently.
- Stop criticizing others. Criticizing someone else is often due to a lack of personal discipline or the unwillingness to confront a difficult situation. When people do something inappropriate, bring it to their attention so they can make amends, or ask for what you want instead of harboring resentment.
- Stop working through lunch. The body craves rest and recovery every 90-120 minutes. Working through lunch will exhaust you and increase the likelihood that you’ll make mistakes. Each day, schedule time to rejuvenate and your effectiveness and productivity will increase.
- Stop questioning your self-worth. You are here; therefore, you are worthy. Start a gratitude journal, and decide once and for all to claim not only your right to exist but also your right to excel.
- Stop arguing. Instead of constantly correcting every minor detail, ask yourself, “Who cares?” Most of the time we argue over insignificant details that do not have any impact on the point being made. The wisdom is in knowing what is important and what is not. If the essence is understood and the detail is insignificant, just let it go.
- Stop panicking. Regardless of what triggers you, instead of freaking out when things aren’t going your way, take a breath and regain a sense of control. When you are frightened, your brain actually freezes up and you lose critical thinking ability.
- Stop the noise. Being plugged in 24/7 is bad for your health, and studies show that you actually lose productivity when you multitask. Focus on one thing at a time, and spend some time without being hooked up to a Bluetooth device, a computer or a cell phone.
- Stop talking about what you lack. Talking about not having enough time, not having enough money and not having enough (fill in the blank) is what is contributing to your negative feelings. Become clear on what is enough in all areas of your life, because if you don’t know what “enough” is, you will never know what is more than enough.
Marlene Chism is a professional speaker and author of Stop Workplace Drama (Wiley, 2011). To see more about the book and to get more resources go to www.stopworkplacedrama.com.