Does my e-mail sound too mean? Too excited?
While researching post topics today, I came across a “meme” on Instagram that piqued my interest. It depicted a flow chart describing the worries one might go through when composing an E-Mail.
In the first step on the flow-chart, the author inserts an exclamation point. Upon reflection, the author then worries that the exclamation point indicates that there might be too much excitement in the E-Mail. The author decides to remove the exclamation point, and upon more pondering, the author worries that the email “sounds” too “mean.”
This meme provided me all the fodder I required to start my rant. So here goes:
Let’s take a step back before Social Media engulfed everyone’s ability to reason and conduct business in an efficient manner. E-Mail was developed decades ago as a tool to speed communication using a concept known as “store and forward.” That is it. E-Mail is simply an electronic medium used for communication.
Removing personal E-Mailing altogether, let’s discuss what to consider when one composes a business E-Mail message. There are a few key items that I believe will ensure that your E-Mail will get to the right person, with the right message, a call for them to take action and will contain no emotion. And that will guarantee a response. Here are a few things to consider when you start to write that E-Mail:
- WHO IS IT FOR? Ensure that the person you’re sending your message to is the RIGHT person. I can’t tell you how many times I have received an E-Mail message from someone who ostensibly just had no clue as to who was the right person to receive it.
- WHAT DO YOU NEED TO SAY? It is always vital to be absolutely certain that you know what you need to say. Nothing will turn off a reader more quickly than a rambling message with no point.
- BE CONCISE – AND PUNCTUATE! Please, and for God’s sake (if not your reader’s) – keep your message clear, concise and to the point. And please use punctuation. Just because you are writing an electronic message does not excuse you from using the basics.
- ASK THE RECIPIENT TO ACT In other words, give them a “call to action.” If you need them to do something or respond within a period of time, ask. It’s that simple.
- REMEMBER – IF IT’S WELL-WRITTEN, IT WON’T SOUND “MEAN” (and if it does, you can rest assured that you did your job!) Back to the original thrust of my post. If you use these tips to compose an E-Mail message that relays what you want to say, you need not worry about whether or not your E-Mail message “sounds” mean. Which, by the way reminds me: E-Mail messages are written messages. They cannot SOUND any particular way.
Unfortunately these days, people spend too much time worrying about what will or will not potentially upset, disgust or offend someone. If you are conducting business in a reasonable and ethical manner, and composing all of your messaging professionally, this need not be a worry.
Patrick Tamburrino is the President of tamburrino, inc. – a Memphis-based technical support and strategic planning agency that focuses on excellent communication and not “speaking geek.” Contact Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org