How emails can get you fired

By Guest Writer – Belle Quan, Personal Trainer

We’ve all heard all about how emails don’t communicate the way face-to-face meetings or phone calls do. Each word stands on its own with no humor, inflection, facial expression or tone-of-voice. This true story shows you how the action words you choose make all the difference – and not in a good way.

I wrote an email to the owner of the training studio where I work as an independent contractor. In it, I took it upon my self (yes, I’m self directed, especially with no direction from superiors), to help my boss prepare for her meeting. Instead of using words like “you might want to” or asking, “Is there something you’d like me to do to help you prepare for the meeting,” I simply wrote a direct email stating, “You should do this and you should do that.” What came across to my boss was not my willingness to help (which was my only intent), but that I was bossy, threatening, and wanting to take over. Those were her words as we sat down last week for coffee.

Good news for me, I didn’t care about this gig. Better news for me, “I learned something, even at 49 years old.” It’s great when you can learn when you don’t care, worse lesson when you do. So, for that reason, I’m sharing this story with all of you.

Beware: Don’t use words like SHOULD. Instead ask what help they need, so you’re answering a need that they have — not satisfying your own need to show off what you know or can do.

* Thanks Belle for your courage in sharing this good tip about business communications.

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