4 Ways to Write with Emotional Intelligence
In today’s remote world, many of our relationships exist solely through written communication, such as emails, posts, documents, DMs, and texts. While we often discuss bringing emotional intelligence to our interpersonal interactions and behaviors, it’s crucial to consider our “interpersonal writing” as well. Since written words not only convey information but also elicit emotional responses, we must infuse our writing with empathy and clarity to write with EQ.
To ensure that our writing is both emotionally intelligent and informative, we should consider the following strategies when writing to build or maintain positive professional relationships:
Avoid Accidentally Prioritizing Yourself in Your Writing
Emotional intelligence involves managing ourselves to ensure that we don’t prioritize our own needs over those of our readers. When we’re stressed and need things from our readers, we may unintentionally fall into writing patterns that privilege ourselves over our readers.
To ensure that we’re not putting ourselves first, we should consider:
– Starting sentences with “You,” “We,” or “Our Team” instead of “I.”
– Writing more about what your reader wants to know rather than what you want to say.
– Setting deadlines that consider your reader’s real-life schedule as well as your own.
Show Respect for Your Reader through Intentional Writing Choices
Demonstrate Writing EQ by writing respectfully to your reader. Consider:
– Using “you” when discussing positive topics and avoiding “you” when discussing negative ones. (You can replace “you” with the topic at hand—for example, instead of “You confused me in your email,” we can write “I got confused in the second part of the email.”)
– Avoiding disempowering the reader by putting them in a “lower” position. Don’t take away their agency and choice. For example, instead of saying “Your feedback is required,” say “We’d love to hear what you think.”
– Referring to others as they wish. Check your reader’s preferred pronouns, and if you’re referring to a group of people, make sure you use the terms they use to refer to themselves. If you’re unsure of how to refer to a demographic group, research some influencers from that group to find out the best way to refer to them.
“Host” Your Reader
Demonstrate Writing EQ by making longer emails and documents easy and welcoming for your reader. Keep the following in mind:
– Will your reader be able to navigate your document or email easily? Consider using formatting such as headers and bullets to ensure that they can. Also, start with a preview that lets them know what they’ll find or learn in the document/email.
– Can your reader easily understand what they need to do? Clarify your call to action with deadlines, reasons, and active verbs.
– Can your reader easily find the information they care about? Order your ideas based on their importance to your reader rather than to you as the writer.
Consider Your Reader’s Daily Realities
Demonstrate Writing EQ by considering your reader’s daily realities. This might include:
– Their schedule for the week, what they’re dealing with, and what deadlines they’re facing.
– Any constraints your reader may face, such as time, money, or staffing.
– What’s important to them each day.
– Challenges or biases they may face in their own work life.
Even though we may work remotely from many of our colleagues and customers, we still want to develop close relationships with them. This means building relationships through purposeful choices in our writing.
Written by Erin Lebacqz, High-Value Writing