Email is the preferred method of business communication with billions and billions of emails being sent on a daily basis but could we send better, more effective messages? SMTP2GO helps improve the technical side of delivery, but what about the human side of delivery? I spoke to MBTI® practitioner, Tamsin Regnes, who talks about how understanding our personality type can improve our email communication.
It’s estimated that the average office worker receives about 90 emails and sends around 40 business emails each day. It’s clear that email really is the communication tool of choice – but how often do we get it wrong? Or cause offensive? Or dread opening an email from a particular sender? Is this something that we could work on improving? Absolutely! By understanding our own personality type, and that of those around us, we can make a few changes to how we approach our email sending.
Tamsin explains about personality type further:
“I help people to increase their self-awareness so they understand how they react or how they feel in certain situations. Basically, what makes them ‘tick’. At the same time, I help them appreciate that other people might act in a very different way: how they may ‘tock’. So it’s about understanding your personality type and, at the same time, appreciating that there are other personality types out there who might be very, very different to you. But it’s OK! There’s no right or wrong personality type to be – but an appreciation of those differences can be very helpful in our lives.”
So, what is MBTI exactly?
“It stands for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, which is a personality framework. Basically, it looks at how we prefer to do things: how we prefer to recharge and how we make our decisions, live our lives, meet our deadlines… The indicator looks at a number of areas of our lives and helps us understand what we feel comfortable with. On the basis of that, we’re given four letters that describe our personality type. It’s not about how good you are, nor about capability or skills – it’s more about how you prefer to do things and spotting strengths and utilizing them. It’s a very positive framework that helps us understand ourselves and appreciate others – and as a result of this, work better with those around us in teams or home.”
With regard to email, how can knowing your personality type help when sending email?
“It can be really helpful. Research by The Myers-Briggs Company (previously OPP) looked at people’s MBTI types and the use of email with some really interesting results. For example, being aware that some people prefer to send an email but others prefer to pick up the phone (especially those who get their energy from being around others) is useful. Email can be really good for those who like to take time to reflect on their answers and not give an immediate response – whereas the phone is more immediate and ‘on the spot’. Email allows people to give a considered response and to think before committing it to a written answer.”
We’re all different
“Some of us are detailed oriented: we like to have well-structured, clear emails that say exactly what needs to be said with lots of paragraphs and bullet points. Whereas other people are much less likely to feel the need for this and are more interested in the bigger picture or ideas within the email. An important thing to consider is that if a detail-oriented person includes a lot of questions in one email – and if the recipient is more big picture, they may feel ‘overloaded’ and as a result the sender might not get all of their questions answered. This is a potential cause of frustration and annoyance for both parties.”
Pick up on past cues
“Always consider the person you are emailing and try to ensure their needs are met in a way that still feels comfortable and natural. Pick up on cues from previous communications: for example, small chunks of information might be preferable (and get better results) than a whole mass. It could be better to send a series of staggered, shorter emails to get a better response. The last thing we want is for recipients to avoid opening emails because they can’t face them! We need to learn how to utilize email to get the best from the person we’re emailing.”
Think about tone…
“We’re so busy in our lives and tend to bash out emails – but pick up on cues and think about the person you’re emailing. Are they inclined to use pleasantries? This may indicate they are more people-focused in their decision making. Or are they more likely to be direct and ‘to the point’, which may indicate they make task-focused decisions. We need to think how our email is going to be received: we might think that a one-word reply is OK (and efficient) but a different personality type might be left feeling upset and thinking that they’ve done something wrong.”
Main takeaways from our discussion about personality type
Whilst there is no right or wrong personality type to be, giving consideration to the differences between people can enhance your communications with others.
So before hitting the send key, think:
- Who am I sending this email to? If you’ve not emailed before it’s good to strike a balance between pleasantries, succinctness, details, long paragraphs etc.
- What have our previous communications been like? Take on past cues and where possible, without feeling unnatural, mirror how the recipient has communicated in the past.
- Have I done something wrong? If you’re a one-word-replier, flex a little bit to ensure that the person who receives the email doesn’t think that they’ve done something wrong. One person’s effectiveness can be another’s upset. Nobody likes to feel like this and it’s the cause of many a sleepless night. If they’ve used a lot of pleasantries, consider adding them, it could be as simple as “Thank you for your email” but can make all the difference. But conversely, if you’re a Chatty Cathy and your recipient isn’t, rein in the niceties and cut to the chase. The chatter-noise is likely to get on their nerves.
- Why haven’t they replied yet? Not everybody works to the same time schedule. Some may take much longer to reply to an email – not because they’re ignoring it, but because they’re mulling it over or because they do their best work close to a deadline. This can drive somebody who wants a speedy reply nuts! If you’re the type who want your six billion questions answered by the end of the day, put a deadline on the email. Something like this would work: ‘If you could please get back to me by Wednesday afternoon, that would be great. Thanks.’ Then it’s clear when the response is expected, and saves a lot of frustration.
- Shall I just send this now? Timing is everything. If you’re the type of person who likes to tick things off a to-do list, and this includes sending that last email at 10.40pm, it can cause the recipient a lot of stress to receive an email at that time. They could be left wondering if an immediate response is needed/expected, despite it not being within their scheduled working hours. Get the email done, for sure, tick it off your list, but save sending it until 9am the next day. Expectations managed!
Before sending any email, think about the person you’re sending it to; consider past interactions, pick up on cues and mirror their emailing style. It can be really helpful to think about how they like to be addressed, or the level of detail they require. Appreciate that ‘our way’ is not everybody’s way – and could possibly cause upset/stress/annoyance/frustration. Consider that we’re all different and that we all do things differently. Not only will this improve email communication, it will also stand us in good stead for ALL of our communications and interactions with those around us.
Over and out from this ENFJ!
If you’d like to discover more about the benefits of discovering what makes you ‘tick’, visit: https://www.tamsin-regnes.co.uk/
® MBTI, Myers-Briggs and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are registered trademarks of the Myers & Briggs Foundation in the United States and other countries.