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5 ways to prevent your casual from showing

I was so tempted to leave the default message, “Sent from my iPhone.” As sick as it sounds, I actually feel privileged to have spent my money for this sweet gem. When my 82 year old mother asked me what it does, all I could do was smile, stroke my phone and say “everything.”

So, it pained meĀ  – pained me! – to go to the settings setting to delete their message. I want everyone to know how cool I am. I want them to know that I’ve been to the mountain.

But I can’t. I can’t because I teach that email has very little to do with the writer and everything to do with the reader. I say that to the recipient, how we send our message is meaningless. All they want is the information they want and that doesn’t include a promo for the iPhone or whatever. Oh, I know. We mistakenly think that maybe the reader will understand if we misspell or do some other stupid thing, if we let them know we’re thumb writing. Why should they? Just because we’re all thumbs doesn’t grant us absolution. It’s about making life easy for them; not for ourselves. I teach this stuff in my Email Etiquette and Productivity workshops.

Which brings me to a point (more than to tellĀ  you about my impressive new iPhone). No matter what we do, it’s about them. We don’t communicate for ourselves; we communicate to provide useful information for another soul. And to do that, we need to do it in a way that honors them – not our peculiarities.

After a program last week, a Director of Sales told me that he hired a veteran salesperson. She can sell, he said, if you don’t mind “rough around the edges.” Her language is too informal, her tone is too casual, her edge is too sloppy. What can he do to help her see that what she considers “being herself” isn’t helping her?

Here are 5 tips:

  1. Being ourselves is important to us. Being our best selves is important to others.
  2. We become our own distraction when we use language that is too flippant, too conversational, too casual. It would be like wearing a bikini to work. Seems reasonable when the temperature reaches 110 here in Scottsdale, especially if you happen to be hot flashing. And the bikini may be cute and you may even look good in it. You may be perfectly comfortable. But the other people won’t be. Unless you’re at the beach.
  3. If you sell service and not a tangible product with a transactional sale, the only thing you can really sell is attention to detail. If you don’t start paying attention to those details when you communicate, when will you?
  4. You can write like you talk; just remember to come back to clean it up. Not everything we would say, should we write.
  5. Don’t get sucked into another person’s casual attitude or informal approach. You represent yourself and the organization that signs your check. Regardless of how many “ciao’s” they use, unless you’re in Italy, refrain. No matter how many times, they punctuate with ;-), ;-(, whatever, if you’re past puberty, resist that temptation too.

If your casual is showing, you may want to reconsider. Even if it’s on a beautiful, sleek, pink encased iPhone
What else do you suggest?