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March 10, 2017

If you are like most people, you get tons of email messages everyday - some important, some not so important, and a lot of it straight up spam. The onslaught of information, items to sort through, and responses you need to write can have you gritting your teeth with frustration and sending responses that are less than your best. 

Instead of letting the inbox clutter get to you, get a handle on it with four mindful email exercises you should practice before you hit send.

  1. Wait before you reply.

Do you tend to respond immediately to every email, even weighty ones? Or are you an email procrastinator, letting important messages sit in your inbox for too long, then scrambling to reply to everyone?

If you’re in the habit of sending rapid fire responses to every email, you may be doing more harm than good. Emotions can escalate, important points may be glossed over, and you may not communicate exactly what you intended. People may come to expect your immediate response, and feel slighted if you take a bit longer.

Whether you choose to take a moment to breathe, an hour to clear your head, or a day to get perspective - wait before you respond to an email.

In doing so, you will begin to set more reasonable expectations on your time. More important, you will allow yourself the space to let go of stress, focus on the message at hand, and craft a more balanced, measured response.

  1. Ask yourself: Should I pick up the phone?

Without verbal and visual cues, we can easily misinterpret meaning in email conversations. If an email is still stirring up emotions after you waited a bit to respond, that is usually a cue to deliver the message in a more personal way.

Even if there isn’t emotional content, some message are just too complex or nuanced to communicate well in an email. The give-and-take of a real-time conversation are generally more effective in these situations.

  1. Visualize the recipient.

After taking time to consider the message, it’s time to write your email - at least those that you haven’t handled in person or over the phone.

One of the best ways to write a clear, effective email message is to start by visualizing the person who will be reading the message. Imagine yourself talking to this person about the subject at hand. What tone would you use? How would you phrase your instructions or your request?

Now translate that tone into written form, keeping a mental image of the recipient throughout the writing process. Is your message easy for them to understand? As much as possible, keep your message short and include white space to make it more readable.

  1. Take four cleansing breaths.

Read over your email before you hit send. As you read, look for any places where your words or tone could be misinterpreted, staying alert for potential communication issues. Once you finish reading and editing, take four deep, cleansing breaths to signal to your mind that you have completed the task.

Feeling good about the message is the most important reason to hit send.

Looking for more ways to create balance, calm and happiness in your life? Check out 5 Ways to Engage More Fully With Happiness .


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