Business emails often lack personality and miss opportunities. People mention the art of letter writing is dying, well email is on life support, and the prognosis not looking good.
Thanks in part to mobile technology, it isn’t unusual to see a two of three sentence email, lacking a salutation, void of friendly chat and often missing a ‘please’ or ‘thank you’. You’ve probably heard about this type of sender before, they are called ‘douche bags’.
Whether or not someone has a mountain of emails, is a senior executive, is devoid of personality or a mixture of the above, they are not an excuse for bad business email writing and manners.
Some of us do add some much needed ‘oomph’ to our business correspondence, which has many wonderful benefits. I regularly email with great people at all levels of business, and I firmly believe how we write our emails often can provide benefits.
No 1. I treat people how I like to be treated. When possible I respond quickly to emails and never don’t send a reply (unless spam, trojan or virus!). I move quickly to break down barriers, often going beyond ‘how are you?’.
No 2. I will be inquisitive, which sounds obvious, but is severely lacking in many business emails these days.
No 3. Often I provide or offer added value without being prompted. If you can’t understand the benefits, I’m not going to spell it out.
No 4. I am bold, such as asking for something or not going twelve rounds and just saying ‘no’. Being friendly isn’t a weakness, and I will be firm when needed.
I find I steer clear of the ‘douche bags’, as generally they are carrying ‘egos’ around, which they probably buy brand new each year, and pass their old one onto a suitable new owner. Generally if I find if a person is a pain in the rear via email, they are tough work over the phone, in person and doing business with.
Whereas I can receive an email from someone I’ve known for a dozen years or even a week, and even if we don’t regularly chat or have never spoken, by following 1 – 4 above, more is achieved and often with a smile. A friendly email, is welcomed during a tough day.
Last week I was given free software by a software developer. This week I’ve been offered a book by an author. All based on past results, some benefits for both parties and those relationships have never evolved beyond email.
I’m not being fake and neither are most people I regularly email with. We genuinely make the effort, are nice people and it helps our businesses. I just wish others didn’t perceive they have to act a specific way, that belongs firmly in the 20th century British office.
Plus it is nice to have some friendly water cooler natter via email. I’ve received advice for my back, talked about rugby, heard about great locations to visit on holiday and such like. It also happens to make discussing awkward issues easier at times.
Now let’s look at an extreme example! I hired a chap at a firm a dozen years ago and ever since we’ve bounced work each others way, as well as becoming friends. So when he asked whether I wanted to be involved in a project I responded:
Sorry I missed your call earlier. We must catch up sometime.
You’ve got more chance of me walking into a lion’s cage, flicking its privates with a wet towel and then performing a highland dance, whilst trying to pluck its whiskers out, than working on a X project again.
I appreciate the consideration though.
All the best
The point is that business email should be treated with respect, attention and sometimes with added humour, whether or not there is an opportunity. I just wish more British business people did as well.