“People always think I’m mad at them when they get my emails,” says Barbara, a corporate executive. “But I’m just trying to get my job done.” Her short, direct emails were striking the wrong tone.
Have you ever received a brief email from someone and thought they were angry at you? Then you met them in the hall and they radiated good vibes. What happened? The tone of their email made you think they were angry when in fact they were not.
Email is inherently a cold medium. Without taking active steps to warm up the tone of our emails, we are likely to inadvertently offend or upset our readers. Here are three things you can do to warm up the tone of your emails.
1. Use a greeting and polite closing in all initial emails.
In a recent training, a participant told the group that she automatically deletes any email that did not begin with a respectful greeting. “If they can’t be bothered to treat me with courtesy, why should I read their message?” she declared. While this position may be extreme, many people are put off by “in your face” emails that jump straight into the message without a courteous greeting.
Even if all you write is “Hi,” or “Good morning,” you will add a human touch to your message and make your reader more open to what you have to say. Closings such as "Looking forward to hearing from you," "Thanks," "Best wishes," and, for more formal relationships, "Yours truly," are all appropriate.
2. Make a pleasant comment at the beginning of most initial emails.
Sure it’s a business email, but that doesn’t mean you always have to open with business. If you are selling, asking a favor, or simply trying to build your relationship, take a moment to acknowledge that this is a person-to-person connection, not simply a commercial transaction. Even platitudes like “Hope you’re having a good day” and “Hope you had a good weekend” break the ice and warm up the tone of your message.
Obviously, some emails do not require the personal comment. If you are just relaying information or creating a transaction, the personal comment may be unnecessary. However, if you are concerned about your tone, add the pleasant opening.
3. Smile when you write.
Smiling – even when you don’t feel like it – makes you happier. It makes you healthier, more resilient, and has even been shown to increase longevity. What does this have to do with email? If you are pounding on the keyboard, mouth set in a grim line, you are likely to be composing an email with a tone you will come to regret. If, however, you take control of your expression and force yourself to smile, your mood will improve without your realizing it, and your tone will warm up. Try composing an angry, indignant email while smiling broadly: I bet you can’t do it.
These simple techniques can make the difference between writing an email that builds your relationship and one that buries it. Make the extra effort to warm up your tone, and your readers will be happier. And for most us, happy readers are what we want.
See a video on this topic:
Learn more about email etiquette from Elizabeth Danziger. Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kG2KQTl4K3g
Other videos are available at worktalk.com.
© 2015 Elizabeth Danziger All rights reserved
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