Today, many of our conversations take place in written form, via email or an instant message. But the pressure to respond instantly means we often have a tendency to skim and search instead of reading slowly and carefully, which can lead to miscommunication and confusion.

Read mindfully. Show that you’ve read the message carefully by addressing all relevant points and answering any and all questions. If it’s not possible to give a thoughtful answer quickly, let your colleague know you’ll get back to them with more answers—and then follow through in a timely manner.

Write clearly—and always proofread. Read your emails and messages carefully before hitting Send. Check your tone and think about how your words may be perceived, especially based on your rank. Take advantage of spell check and other proofreading programs. And make sure your expectations are clearly defined—you may want to put deadlines in bold type or use bullet points to highlight important information.

Don’t be hasty. Unless it’s a true emergency, try to get out of the habit of answering emails and messages immediately. You don’t always need to respond in 30 seconds. Instead, consider blocking off time on your calendar each day to diligently and patiently respond to your emails. And pay attention to who’s copied on the message—you don’t want to CC the wrong person.

Source: “Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance,” Next Big Idea Club, July 5, 2021