In my line of work, emailing is more common than actually speaking to another person. No … seriously. If you’ve actually spoken to me while conducting business, consider yourself a rarity. I can’t tell you how many emails I send and receive on any given day. It’s completely second nature to me at this point. With that in mind, I have to make a conscious effort to always seem cordial and accommodating in my written communications (stop chuckling – I really am nice in real life – sometimes).
Sadly, I’m here to report that I’ve experienced people who I’m certain do not even remotely consider what their email tone conveys. For example: I once had a contact who worked for a business in another state. I had never met this guy, didn’t know him from Adam. But every single time his name popped into my inbox, I cringed. Here is exactly what one of his emails looked like (no joke).
At 12:01 p.m. (when a project was due at Noon)
Am I going to get this today?
Okay. No big deal. He must be too busy to include a greeting or closing, right? We’ve all been there. Must be all kinds of crazy hectic at his office. Just breathe and respond with positivity.
My response at 12:02 p.m.
Hey there, Bob!
We must be on the same wavelength because I was JUST emailing you with the completed file. When you get a chance, please let me know what you think of it. I’ll be happy to make any tweaks you may have – no problem at all. I look forward to your feedback.
Thanks so much!
His response at 10:45 p.m.
I’m not going to get to this today.
Okay. Still no greeting. Still no pleasantries. Still makes you want to reach through the screen and shake him. But be cool. You don’t know what he’s dealing with right now. Be positive and upbeat. Make a joke of it.
My response at 7:45 a.m. the next day.
Burning that midnight oil, huh? ;) No worries at all. Just shoot any revisions you have my way when you get a chance, please, sir. I’ll be happy to get you a revised version ASAP.
Thanks so much!
His response at 2:45 p.m. (when it’s supposed to go to the printer by 3)
I guess this will have to do since it’s supposed to go today.
As you can probably imagine, at this point, I’m seething. Why can’t he just be nice for like, one second? Is it that hard to just fake it? Seriously. Can I get a “Howdy, Brie. Life is crazy. I’m sorry for the delay. I’ll get to this right now.” ??? Please?
So, my point is this. No, you may not be having a great day. Maybe you’re having one of the worst days ever, but I’m here to tell you … a peppy greeting and a casual smiley go a long way in letting the person on the other end of your email know that you’re not angry at them, and that everything is going to be okay.
So, please … I’m begging you. From one professional to another. Don’t be that seemingly rude person on the other end of an email. Be nice. Say it with a smile. And really think about how you would interpret something where tone is assumed and rarely confirmed.