Read An E-mail; Read A Mind
Let me start off by saying that if I had my way, this post would be less of a Case Study and more of a rant.
In this post I’m going to teach you a simple method by which to write a more engaging e-mail. Should you decide to use this I sincerely hope it works for you.
I also sincerely hope that rather than using it you get up out of your chair, walk down the hall and have an actual conversation with someone.
Why? Let’s go to the stats shall we?
- -The average North American spends 26 minutes per day sending some form of digital message on their phone while only averaging 6 minutes per day actually talking on it. (We Never Talk Anymore, Jeffery Kluger, CNN)
- -51% of workers would prefer to send an e-mail as opposed to having a face to face conversation. (Chicago Tribune)
All this despite the fact that:
- -Less than 7% of meaning within a conversation is derived from words. (Psychology Today)
- -Face to face conversation is 34 times more successful at developing understanding than any other form of communication. (Harvard Business Review)
So as I say, if this were my preferred rant, I’d be picking apart the practice of sending an e-mail in the first place. Given that over 205 BILLION of them are sent each day however, my feeling is that rant would fall upon deaf ears (or eyeballs as it is).
So instead we will trudge forward with a Case Study and try to at least enhance the practice of sending e-mails by sending more emotionally intelligent ones.
In order to do this we need some basics. For those of you who follow our content regularly you will most likely be familiar with the basics of our behavioural colours and how we code communication preferences.
For those of you who don’t all you need to know for the purposes of this particular Case Study are the Biases inherent within each colour.
“Yellows” hold a Credibility Bias; they have a hard time buying in to anyone or anything they deem lacking Credibility.
“Greens” hold a Connection Bias; they will struggle to buy-in to anyone they do not feel they can establish an authentic Connection with.
“Blues” hold a Clarity Bias; buy-in becomes difficult for them if every step in the process is not laid out in a clear and concise fashion up front.
“Reds” hold a Convincing Bias. You will NEVER find a Red doing nothing, therefore you can safely assume that you are ALWAYS interrupting them. To get them to buy-in you must Convince them that what you are now bringing to them is more important than what they are already committed to.
Understanding these Biases offers a tremendous amount of leverage. As human beings we each make an average of 35,000 decisions on a daily basis. The sheer number of decisions we make dictates that we are unable to make all of them consciously. We need shortcuts, ways of speeding up our decisions in order to get through them all. Our Biases happen to be these cognitive shortcuts.
One of the ways our Biases manifest themselves is by strengthening the “pull” certain fundamental questions have on our attention and therefore our ability to commit to making a decision. Until these questions are answered within our respective minds, it becomes difficult for us to move forward. The second they are answered in a satisfactory manner, the friction within our decision making slips away.
For Yellows this question is Who. Again, Yellows seek Credibility and simultaneously hold a heavy aversion to detail. A Yellow who asks a salesperson “Who are your other clients?” Is trying to determine the salesperson’s Credibility without doing the detailed and laborious due diligence work on their own. In the workplace, someone asking you “Under whose authority?” is doing the same thing.
Greens need to know Why. Greens seeks Connection and purpose. There must be a deeper reason behind what you are asking of them in order for them to feel fully bought in. They are also looking to form a deeper connection with you. When a Green asks Why, they are actually asking you Why YOU would do what you are asking them to do, given that once they know this, they A) have started that deeper connection with you and B) can begin to determine if there is a deeper purpose.
Blues seek Clarity, which is why Blues ask How. When it is someone’s turn to ask a question and they either lead with or stay fixated on “How does this work?” you are most likely dealing with a Blue.
Finally, the results oriented Red who needs to be Convinced to move forward will stick to What based questions as in “What is the objective?”, “What is the point?”, or “What’s next?”
Now that you know these Bias and the questions they spawn within the minds of their owners, you can proactively render them inert with an appropriately crafted message.
If you know you are dealing with a Yellow your message must contain the answers to Who; both “Who you are” (what you need to say to be seen as Credible to them) as well as “Who they get to be” if they comply with what you’re asking them to do (what the resulting boost to their own Credibility is).
If your recipient is Green, take the time to explain Why you are so invested in their part of whatever it is you are asking them to do in order to build and strengthen your Connection with them.
Take the time to lay out the beginning, middle and end of the entire problem and solution when communicating with a Blue in order to proactively answer the question of How.
Communicating with Red is all about Deliverables (What’s at stake) and Calls To Action (What do you need them to do).
A recent client of ours was struggling to extend the contract of a long term client who was now looking for a heavy reduction in rate. After reading a series of messages sent to our client by the person in question it was clear that they were very clearly Yellow and were almost overcompensating for it by trying to build up how impressive they were and what a substantial loss it would be for our client to lose a customer of their magnitude.
Our recommendation to our client was to match that Yellow with some Yellow of their own. The response we helped them craft made reference to a number of significant wins our client had experienced and the exposure that had given them. It spoke of particular new clients they were in the process of on-boarding and the opportunity that would exist for their existing clients to begin to associate with them. It was designed to specifically show how Credible our client in fact was while simultaneously giving their client a taste of how Credible they stood to become should they continue to stay on board. It was only then, in the very few final words that we had them mention that the interest given to them by these highly reputable companies gave them supreme confidence that their pricing was in fact where it needed to be and therefore they could not offer a discount at this time. Their client acquiesced and a new contract was signed.
This is merely one of many examples we have and with enough practice I am confident that you will begin to create some of your own. For now, I’ll simply leave you with the method we at Culturesmith use for writing e-mails when the Behavioural Colour of our recipient is not known.
We answer Who, THEN Why, THEN How, THEN What, always in that order.
Who are we and Who are they, Why it makes sense for us to be reaching out to them as a result of those “Who’s”, How it is we aim to solve whatever issue we are reaching out to them about, and lastly What the specific Call To Action is that we are encouraging them to take.
This format not only gives you blanket coverage of all four colours, it is visually brief and self-contained enough to not trigger the detail adverse Yellows and time sensitive Reds from even wanting to read it when they see a giant brick of text staring them in the face.
As with anything this is as much art as it is science so as you practice with it feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have and I’ll do my best to coach you up.
All I’ll ask is that if this works for you, you share the technique with others. Preferably by getting up and going to see them, to make sure that you fully get your point across.
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