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Rochelle D'Costa
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Masters in sarcasm.
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Who Makes the First Move?

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Should I call them first or should I wait for them to call me? Should I wait three days to send them a message or should I send a message now? I’m sure that these are all questions that have entered our minds at some point in our dating experiences. It all comes down to communication, a Latin word that means “to share” but the way that we “share” can vary and so can the way that we interpret the message.

Across the world, every minute Skype users make 110,040 calls, Facebook users like 4,166,667 posts, Twitter users send 347,222 tweets, Snapchatters send 284,722 snaps and Instagram users like 1,736,111 photos. That’s every minute, imagine every hour or every day for that matter.

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The first sign of documented communication was found by the use of pictographs, a message imprinted in stone hence the saying, “it’s not set in stone yet”. Bet you didn’t know that one, well I didn’t…  The way that we communicate can vary drastically depending on what social situation we find ourselves in. From 9-5.30pm we have a level of professionalism that we must adhere to, well try and adhere to. Majority of fast paced companies today, tend to communicate via email where most emails don’t even have a body, the message is sent in the subject line of the email. The message being delivered is short, sharp and sweet but is it read like that?

Just because we send an email, post a letter or leave a Post It note, doesn’t mean that the recipient has received it, interpreted it in the way that you meant it or even understands it. Facebook, WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage have deployed a “seen” function that mitigates the question, “Have they received my message?”, but also can create a feeling of isolation or question your self-worth if the message is “seen”not responded to. A program called SideKick now tells you when someone is reading your email, when they click on a link featured in an email or when they are opening up an old email. Invasion of privacy, you may say? Nope, many people use this feature to pre-empt a disgruntled phone call or a question/concern. It’s innovative and it’s smart.

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It’s a Saturday afternoon and you’re sitting at home sifting through your emails, you know, being proactive and you decide to reply back to that email that you have been procrastinating to send for a while. You nut it out in half an hour and hit send. Recipients include: your managing director, his personal assistant and your accounts department. You also stumble upon a reply from your manager that says “sure”. “Sure”?, no exclamation mark like he usually does, come to think of it he didn’t even put a capital letter at the beginning of the word nor did he put a full stop. Your mind starts running, if he didn’t put a full stop that must mean that he was either in a rush and didn’t read my email or he’s angry and didn’t think I deserved a full stop or maybe he was meant to reply to someone else saying “sure” and not you. Sound familiar? I know that I am guilty of misinterpreting a message and reading beneath those lines of your non-existent reply that merely says “sure”.

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You get to work on Monday and check your emails. Uh-oh… There’s a reply from accounts saying that they would like to discuss your email in a meeting later today. Double uh-oh; your boss asks to speak with you immediately in private. Your mind is racing a million miles an hour now, it HAS to be about that one worded reply or was it my email that I sent with pride on Saturday. It turns out he wanted to speak with me to see if you had given that training session he wanted me to run another thought. Whoops, my bad. I put it down to the fact that I’m a female and have once again read WAY too much into the situation, or had I?

Recent studies have shown that 43% of respondents find that emails to be the main reason there is confusion or resentment in the workplace, while 64% have either sent or received an email that has caused anger or resentment. So before you hit send on that iMessage, email or Facebook private message, think about how it sounds to you and how it may be interpreted by someone else. Communication is key and always is a two-way street.

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By Rochelle D'Costa


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