Emotionally Intelligent Communication – Your Email Style

Emotionally Intelligent Emails

The 21st century is replete with new technologies that have changed the way we communicate.

On the train this morning I was typing an email to an American colleague on my mobile phone. We were corresponding to negotiate an appropriate time for a Skype call tomorrow. Most of us take this kind of technology for granted now, but just over a decade ago this kind of convenience was inconceivable. I’m still amazed that within minutes of switching on my laptop, I can communicate with a person in another continent at very little cost.

Many of us are now using the internet to stay emotionally connected with family and friends who have emigrated or who are working abroad. And most of us use the internet and emails daily to conduct business. We establish working relationships with both clients and colleagues through the use of emails. Never before in business has written communication been so easy, so powerful and so important to do well.

Your Email Style?

But, have you ever thought about what your emails at work are communicating without you even realizing it?

Whether you are aware of it or not, your emails to colleagues or clients are often influenced by your personality style’s focus of attention and emotional habits. When you become more conscious of this influence, you can modify and enhance your writing style when necessary to communicate with more clarity and efficiency, while ensuring that a healthy relationship is fostered.

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To investigate your “email style”, scan through some of the emails in your workplace outbox today. What do you notice? Are some of them overly inclusive of irrelevant personal information? Or are the messages you send often curt and unemotional? Maybe you can notice a critical tone in some of your wording, or maybe your emails are full of jokes and teasing.

To help you become more conscious of your email writing habits at work (so that you can change them if necessary) we will use a framework of Nine Email Styles, based on the Enneagram personality system. See if you can identify your typical email style and in which contexts you tend to adopt that particular style. You may draw on the strengths, and display the pitfalls of, different email styles in different situations, so consider all of the Nine Email Styles carefully in deciding which ones reflect your email habits.

The Image Triad and Emotionally Intelligent Emails

The first three email styles we will investigate are known as the Image Triad. Broadly speaking, these three styles are concerned with creating a particular impression in their written communication.

The first email style in the triad is called the Creative Innovator, since the focus in communication is on creating an impression of uniqueness, originality, creativity and emotional depth. Their emails tend to focus on personal views, feelings and experiences. Regularly using strong, feeling-toned words and lamentations, people with this style should caution against crowding their emails with too much personal information and dramatic statements. On the positive side this style can be very imaginative and original in translating their ideas into “ear catching” phrasing that really connects with the receiver’s experiences and emotions.

The second style in the image triad is called the Empathic Supporter, since the focus in communication is on creating an impression of being helpful or selfless. Their emails focus on making others feel valued, nurtured and cared for. Regularly giving compliments, asking personal questions and focussing on the other’s feelings and needs, people with this style can make good connections with colleagues and clients over email. However, these individuals run the risk of not communicating directly and clearly what it is that they really want. They need to caution against not attending to the task at hand by overly focussing their email on making a personal connection.

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