When you think of exhibiting emotional intelligence at work, you probably think about the elements of your face-to-face interactions—like being aware of body language, using active listening, showing empathy—more than about what you’re doing in your email communication. But here’s the thing: if you’re not thinking of your written messages as a natural extension of the relationships you maintain at work, you may be missing an opportunity to exhibit emotional intelligence consistently. What’s worse, you may be communicating something different than what you intend.


I recently came across this Ladders.com article by Travis Bradberry in which he outlines common mistakes people make when emailing. They include things like the compulsive “reply all” response and the way-too-brief message that comes across as rude or indifferent. Avoiding many email mistakes often comes down to increasing your awareness of how others are perceiving you—a key element of emotional intelligence.


The challenge is that it usually takes more effort to be self-aware in writing than in an in-person interaction. In email and other written communications, you don’t benefit from the immediate feedback that you get in an in-person interaction and let’s you know how you’re coming across. So what does this mean? It means that though you’re already super busy, you need to invest some of the time to consider how your audience might interpret your written messages.


There’s good news though. You can create emotionally intelligent writing habits that make it so that you don’t have to think too hard when you’re composing email. Bradberry includes a simple example: Start your messages with a greeting. Why? Because although you want to get down to business and not waste time in your message, you also don’t want to come across as inhuman.


Think about your written communication. Are you doing everything you can on your end to come across as you would in an in-person interaction? And more importantly, are you coming across as you intend? If not, consider creating some emotionally intelligent writing habits for yourself that may require an initial time investment but will ultimately help you communicate more effectively and efficiently.


Guillermo Villar is principal coach with Cambio Coaching. He helps high-achieving individuals and teams communicate with intention to get the business results they want. If you’re interested in working with Guillermo, sign up for a free meeting to explore how he can help.