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“My boss lacks email skills. How do I tell him?"

Monday, June 30, 2014  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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By Trudy Bourgeois

My boss's e-mails are often misinterpreted in tone or intent. How do I approach him about this?

I wouldn’t take this one head on.That will only result in tension, defensiveness and hurt feelings.

In private, tell him that you completely misunderstood what he was saying in a particular e-mail. And then use humor. If possible, share a time when one of your own e-mail communications was misinterpreted (preferably with a humorous result). Then, build on that to talk about how delicate e-mail communications truly are.

I think that you’ll raise his awareness without hitting him over the head. Hopefully you’ll see the behavioral change that you’re looking for. If not, then you’ll have to be more direct.

If it comes to that, carefully extend the olive branch by approaching it from the standpoint of "asking for his help.” You don’t have to put yourself down too much, but simply state that you perform best when e-mails are extremely clear. Further explain that you want to be sure you are providing everything he needs in a timely fashion. Tell him you don’t want to misinterpret anything. Give specific examples of how he could phrase things that "would really help you out.”

Over the weeks following, offer lots of accolades for his improvement.

Trudy Bourgeois is happy to answer your career questions. Please email them to NEW Communications Manager Barbara Grondin Francella.

Trudy Bourgeois is founder and CEO of 
The Center for Workforce Excellence and NEW Executive Leaders Forum conference designer.

Views expressed in signed blogs and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and sponsors.

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