We’d like to welcome guest blogger Spencer Westley, former Humanergy intern and current young professional.

How many of you are knee-deep in emails day in and day out? Rhetorical question – ALL of you are! One of the major hurdles I had to jump over when I started my professional career was not necessarily the quantity of email I started receiving, it was the tone in which I was reading the messages.

Emails are like hairdos – everybody does them a little differently. If you’re like me, your emails are rampant with smiley faces and exclamation points. If you’re on the other end of the spectrum, you may be more of a one-sentence-and-done kind of person. Are either of these styles incorrect? Absolutely not. However, we need to think about our audience when communicating. Could my overuse of the emoji with its tongue sticking out send a weird message? Could a blunt memo that doesn’t use “please” or “thank you” be perceived the wrong way?

I used to receive emails that would make me say, “Holy cow! What the heck did I do to this person?” The answer to that question was always nothing, but the tone of their email said otherwise, sometimes to the point it made me hesitate when responding.

Funnily enough, when I met the person with the harsh-toned email face-to-face, they were were usually very kind and cordial. Why the sudden change? Turns out, nobody was out to get me, and I was misinterpreting their intentions. It dawned on me that sometimes people are too busy to write you the love note you’d like to see in your inbox. Sometimes people might not realize the way they communicate with you makes you second guess their attitude.

What has worked well for me in the past has been this; walk up to them. If you’re on the project with a certain person and you know you’ll be sharing lots of messages back and forth, go say hello! Here, I’ll script it for you…

“Hey, _______! My name’s Spencer. *shake hands* We’ll be on the ______ project together and I wanted to put a face with the name. How are you?”

There you have it. After that you should have a pretty good idea of their demeanor. That being said, if they do send you an email that is less than enthusiastic, just brush it off. If you got a bad vibe from them during your chat and they send you an email that is less than enthusiastic, well…that’s just life.

So, gauge your audience, deliver your emails accordingly and keep it professional. At the end of the day, we’re here to move the organization’s goals forward.

How do you manage your coworker’s different styles of communication? Leave us a comment below or send us a message! 🙂


(Please note that all thoughts and opinions are my own. In no way, shape, or form, do I speak for the Kellogg Company regarding their values, stances, etc.)

Photo from Pexels