Writing Resonant Emails

by Andrew Brodsky

IMAGINE SENDING A DETAILED QUESTION to your boss and getting a one-word response: “No.” Is she angry? Offended by your email? Or just very busy? When I conduct research with organizations on the topic of communication, one of the most common themes raised by both employees and managers is the challenge of trying to communicate emotional or sensitive issues over email. Email, of course, lacks most normal cues for relaying emotion, such as tone of voice and facial expressions.

But in many cases, using email is simply unavoidable. So how can you balance the need to communicate with avoiding the potential pitfalls of using emotion in email? Here are three concrete, research-based recommendations: ...

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