Have you ever written an email to someone who misinterpreted your tone? They thought you were angry; you thought you were just getting to the point. Or they thought you were being sarcastic, when you thought you were being witty.
When email communications go awry, tone is often the issue.
In the Worktalk email trainings, we talk at length about how to warm up the tone of your emails.
Here, I will share one key principle: Smile when you write.
In Daniel Kahneman’s outstanding book, Thinking Fast and Slow, he cites a study that was done in Germany.
There were two groups of experimental subjects.
One group was asked to hold a pencil in their mouth horizontally; this forces the sides of the mouth up into a smile.
The other groupmembers were asked to hold the pencil vertically in their mouth, which forced the face down into a slightly frowning position.
Then both groups were shown a piece of humorous writing and asked, “Are you amused?”
The group that was smiling was more amused than the group that was frowning.
Research on smiling abounds, and the conclusion is clear:
When you smile, you feel happier, even if you’re crying inside.
Certainly, when you smile at other people, they feel happier.
What does this have to do with email?
Well, the fact is that your readers can feel that smile through their computer. If you are pounding away on the keys with your mouth set in a grim line, odds are that you are writing an email whose tone you will regret.
So when writing your business or personal emails, force your face to relax a little:
- Take a deep breath.
- You will get better responses to your emails. And you’ll feel happier too.