PHOENIX (3 On Your Side) -- We use email all the time. It's easy and efficient, but there is also plenty of room for people to misinterpret our messages.
According to Randy Kutz, who specializes in negotiation at Scotwork, the tone of an email is critical, especially during a crisis like the coronavirus pandemic.
Even if you do not intend to be curt or flippant, short, direct sentences could seem that way to the reader, so Kutz suggests trying to humanize the back-and-forth communication. He also says it's important for coworkers, clients, and other contacts to hear your voice.
"If you're having to deliver challenging, difficult, hard information, pick up the phone," Kutz said. "Even if you're not going to be able to talk to your counterpart, being able to have a voice into the mix would be helpful, so pick up the phone, leave a voice message in advance. So, 'Hey Susan, I'm about to send this email to you,' and you're setting the tone in the voice message so they don't misinterpret the tone in the e-message."
According to Kutz, it's also important to avoid complex proposals, data dumping, and instant, impulsive responses when you're negotiating or communicating over email. And never wait until late in the game to reveal non-negotiable information. Kutz says that could tank a deal.
"Email is very progressive. It builds upon itself in its communication thread, so when you give bad information late, people will feel like there's a bait and switch," Kutz said. "You've upended everything, and it's best to give bad information or hard information, or information that's non-negotiable information early. Give that early because it helps to structure their time, their resources, and anything else that would impact their negotiation."