A few weeks ago, I received a message from someone I had never met. Her email (about a rather mundane request) was filled with enthusiasm and encouragement.
The introductory “Good morning Sabrina!!” set the tone for a positive message. And the sign-off was no different, reading:
Happy that I can bring some sunshine into your day!
Warmly with Gratitude and Grace,
The email gave me all the information I was seeking, in a way that left me feeling considered, encouraged, and ~ultimately~ happier.
That same day, I received a different email that:
- Provided no greeting
- Answered my questions in a short, vague manner
- Required us both to spend additional time exchanging emails to clarify the vague answers
I felt like I was interacting with a stranger that just wanted to get the interaction over with. Now, I’m sure that person had a million other things happening and no ill intentions. But, intention and perception are two very different things.
While our in-person interactions are important, our virtual interactions can be just as impactful.
So let’s break it down and consider easy adjustments that will help your everyday emails create positive interactions:
Your greeting sets the tone for the rest of the email. Addressing your recipient by name automatically makes the email feel more personal. Following it with a simple greeting of well wishes will help portray positive intent. For example:
Good morning Sabrina,
I hope you’re doing well! Are you available for a meeting next week?
On the other hand, “Hi. Can we meet next week?” feels rushed, with a tone left open for interpretation.
However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring a little DISC into this conversation, as we all have our own preferences for communication. (DISC is an assessment that helps you understand your own communication preferences and that of your team members.)
If you’re high in Influencer preferences, you might prefer the first email. If you’re high in Dominant preferences, you probably prefer the second and are thinking, “What’s wrong with it?”
I hear you, and, I also suggest that erring on the side of caution when sending emails means being more personable and connectable rather than less. Particularly in a world focused on inclusivity, I suggest that my first example would lend itself to that goal.
The body of the email should be concise, yet informative. And it should address all questions, even if you don’t have the answer.
If warranted, a simple, “I’ll get back to you on this by the end of the day tomorrow” lets them know that their question wasn’t ignored or missed.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to show some personality! As we continue deeper down the path of electronic communication, we have also continued down the path of informality. I’m not saying you should use emojis every chance you get, but use your best judgment to include expressive elements when appropriate.
How you close the message is just as important as how you lead into it. Think of something funny, warm, kind…anything that will reinforce your positive tone.
Making these adjustments will ensure that:
- Your recipient feels personally addressed
- Your recipient feels heard and acknowledged
- Your recipient feels considered and cared about
These are elements that are significant to our everyday interactions…so why wouldn’t we make them part of our virtual ones, as well?
Go off, be free, make someone smile (via email!), and always be kind.
Sabrina and the Civility Partners Team