One thing I know (not think–KNOW) about HR is that it’s full of people who never get out of their cave.

You need to get out of your comfort zone. Read and do things outside of the specific HR body of knowledge to be better. That’s how I found myself reading a manual by Mailchimp on how to avoid spam filters. I want to be sure that the messages I craft are not being caught by email providers and firewalls, so I spent some time checking out the guide.

But then I started thinking about our daily lives. There’s a significant amount of noise around us daily. In my role as the communications guy at work, I might be able to get around any technology-related filters, but there are plenty of verbal/human filters that will prevent my messages from arriving at their destinations with the full intent and purpose with which I sent them.

Let’s look at a few concepts on this topic and how to avoid the human filters that prevent communication from taking place. Here are some of the most common email spam issues you would see (hint: don’t include these in ANY of your communications):

  • Using spammy phrases, like “Click here!” or “Once in a lifetime opportunity!”
  • Going crazy with exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • USING ALL CAPS, WHICH IS LIKE SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS VIA EMAIL (especially in the subject line)
  • Coloring fonts bright red or green, adding lots of italics, underlined text, or bold fonts

That covers a few of the glaring problems in the written world, but what about the verbal/nonverbal conversations we have on a daily basis? Here are some ideas to consider.

  • Don’t look at your phone when you’re talking with someone. Super rude.
  • Do make eye contact. Know how much is appropriate based on what local culture dictates.
  • Do ensure nonverbal cues (posture, hand gestures, facial expressions) convey that you’re interested in the other person.
  • Don’t assume that everyone understands and processes information in the same way you do.
  • Assume the other person is competent, and even if proven otherwise, treat them kindly.

Just doing a few of these will help to avoid problems or confusion when it comes to communication. And when it comes to critical items like overall corporate communications, a little help can go a long way.

What other ways do you see people messing up verbal/nonverbal cues? What advice do you have?

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  • 2 thoughts on “Avoiding the “Spam” Filter with Employee Communication

    1. I really hope this whole “looking at your phone while someone’s talking to you” thing goes away soon. I’ve heard some of my Millennial peers claiming that it’s the new normal, and it’s not rude if everyone does it, but I’m not convinced. I think giving someone your full attention is a pretty basic human courtesy. /end rant

    2. So I love me some !!!!!!! I’m just saying, I fall in that category. Kind of makes me sad that its a bad thing. I also fall in the category of looking at my phone while someone is talking to me. I constantly tell myself “dont do it” when I get that urge while someone is talking to me, but I’m still guilty. That does depend on who is talking though, if the president is in my office talking to me I’m not going to even acknowledge the existence of my cell phone, but if a co-worker who stops in my office often is talking to me I’m likely to look at my phone a time or two. One of the ways we (ANYONE who does it, not just millenials) can break that habit is by wearing a watch. We get used to checking the time on our phone and once we do that we see all the pretty notifications we have and get lost in checking them. On the other end of that though, if I’m talking to someone and they are looking at their phone or shifting around and such I take that as a clue to wrap it up because they need to move on to something else or they have somewhere to be.

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