Communication is everything. Whether we are talking about business or life, if you don't communicate well, you're setting yourself up for failure. If you want to get anywhere in this world, you have to cultivate strong relationships.
Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, discusses this subject heavily in his new book, "How Google Works."
In his view, many people underestimate the power of responding effectively to emails.
Accordingly, Schmidt has outlined nine tips on communication, and how it helps foster a productive environment.
Here's the gist of what he advises:
1. Respond to any form of correspondence (emails etc.) quickly.
If someone takes the time to write you an email, you can certainly take the time to respond to them. People want to be acknowledged, and it's important to afford everyone a general level of respect.
You never know where someone might end up in the world, and it pays to treat people well.
2. You're writing an email, not a novel. Be concise. "Every word matters."
Don't be overly wordy in your emails. People don't want to read lengthy and verbose emails. Be quick and to the point.
Shakespeare once wrote, "Brevity is the soul of wit." Simply put, using big words and writing more than necessary doesn't make you sound more intelligent. Instead, it makes you appear insecure and wastes the time of the person you've written to; keep it simple.
3. Clean out your inbox, you will feel so much better afterwards.
Life can become cluttered very easily, the same goes for your inbox. Don't keep emails in your inbox unnecessarily, that's like keeping every letter you've ever received on your desk.
You risk losing important correspondence in the mess. Clean it up, organize and save yourself a lot of hassle.
4. Respond to your most recent emails first and work your way down.
With the way our brains work, it's a lot easier to start tackling things with what's recent, much like a to-do list. If you try to respond to older emails before new ones, you risk repeating the same cycle.
5. Make sure to include anyone relevant in the conversation.
Life is a lot easier when you make a record of everything. If your boss tells you to reach out to someone, and they never reply, and you get yelled about it later, it's your own fault if you didn't add them to the conversation. Provide proof of everything you've done.
Likewise, adding relevant people to the conversation means that they can jump in and fill in any details that you might not know. This world is all about networking, keep that in mind in both your professional and personal life.
6. Don't use BCC unnecessarily, what are you trying to hide?
If you are using BCC too often, it means that you are probably trying to keep something a secret. This could come back to haunt you. People don't like to be spied on, and in a sense, this is what BCC allows you to do.
Be transparent, or don't add other people to the conversation at all.
7. Don't yell. If you aren't brave enough to say it in person, don't say it at all.
If you have a problem with someone, don't use email to let them know. It's cowardly, and it means that you don't have the stomach to confront them in person. It's also disrespectful for that very reason.
In life and in business, you are inevitably going to disagree with people. Do them the courtesy of letting them know to their face, and they will respect you more.
Likewise, you are more likely to find a resolution this way.
8. Track the emails you send and see if they have been responded to.
Label the emails you send or use the Mailbox app. That way, if someone doesn't respond to your email within a certain time, you can check back on it or receive a notification that it's been 10 days since you sent something without a response.
It's perfectly acceptable to follow up on an email if you haven't received a response, just wait an appropriate period of time. If you think it's too soon to check back, it probably is.
9. Make your emails searchable with key words. Always keep a record.
Make your life easier by forwarding yourself important emails that you've sent to others, and put key words in the subject line. Life is so much easier when we take those tiny steps to be just a little bit more organized.
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