By Hillsides Trauma Informed Care Polices & Procedures Subcommittee
Do you ever wonder if an email you’ve sent has the right tone? Or worry how it will be perceived? Or wished you hadn’t even sent it in the first place? Email is the most popular form of communication in the business world, yet, emails can easily be misconstrued and sometimes cause more harm than good.
How to write emails that you will be happy you sent and co-workers will be happy to receive? Here are some guidelines to follow based on an innovative new standard of care Hillsides has adopted called Trauma Informed Care (TIC) which stresses sensitivity and empathy toward others:
- Be mindful of common courtesies. A friendly greeting and closing and “please” and “thank you” go a long way to making the other person feel valued.
- Take five if needed. If you’re feeling upset or distracted, take a moment to calm down and/or gather your thoughts before writing an email to make sure you don’t say something you will later regret.
- Go light on using punctuation/font color for emphasis. Writing in all caps or using multiple exclamation points to make a point, for example, can appear like you are yelling. Writing in red can be perceived as rude or aggressive.
- Have realistic expectations. Be mindful if you are making an unrealistic request in your email, for example, asking someone to reply in a very short time frame, especially if you are writing during off business hours.
- Respond promptly. Acknowledge that you received an email even if you can’t yet fulfill the request. Give the other person a time frame for when you will get back to them with more information. Otherwise, you may come off as non-responsive.
- Put thought into the subject line. The subject line sets the tone for the entire email, so take a moment to make it as approachable and friendly as the actual email.
- Think twice before “ccing” (copying) others on an email. Do bosses really need to be “cced”? Does the entire department? Only “cc “when it’s absolutely necessary.
- Offer explanations. If your email is explaining a change in policy or a request, make sure to give an explanation of why this is happening so the other person has a greater understanding of the reasoning behind the change.
- Give each email a final read. Read over each email before sending to make sure the tone is the one you were aiming for. Ask yourself, “How would I feel if I received this email?”
- Know when and when not to use email. If the issue is sensitive or complicated, consider picking up the telephone or talking to the person face-to-face instead. While we all have become accustomed to communicating through email, sometimes it simply isn’t the best option.
Hillsides has created a Trauma Informed Committee that meets once a week. These tips were created by the sub- committee on policies & procedures. The sub-committee consists of Alison Bell, Raul Carreon, Lupe Cornel, Donna Dunbar, Rochelle Earley, Eloise Ezrre, Amber Newman, Krisstell Payne, Ebony Porter, and Jessica Petrass.