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4 ways to bring empathy to your email

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When communicating via email, we can’t use verbal and nonverbal social cues to gauge how we should react. Instead, feedback moves at a slower pace and is much more ambiguous, which leads to assumptions and miscommunication. But a new email extension called Crystal can help you improve the situation by bringing more empathy to your email conversations.

The most important thing is adapting to other people’s written language, says Crystal founder Drew D’agostino. He explains what people are communicating indirectly when they:

1.  Write the entire message in the subject line. These people are typically direct and not inclined to converse via email. Instead of writing back, pick up the phone or walk over and talk face to face.

2.  Write “please advise.” This typically means the person wants you to write out specific instructions. If this rubs you the wrong way, talk it out in person. But for many people, this is just typical email behavior.

3.  Start out with a “hey.” This is a sign the sender considers you to be a peer. When you are not writing to a peer, stick with the more formal “hi.”  

4.  Use emojis. This used to be a sign of a serious lack of professionalism but things have changed. Now emojis are being used as a substitute for words or a way to convey intent and therefore aren’t inherently unprofessional. Still, be careful not to overuse them because it can make you look insecure.

— Adapted from “How to Avoid Miscommunications & Email Like a Real Human Being,” Sasha VanHoven, 99U.

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