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Why your last email may destroy your career

Someone I know in my personal life is sweet and loving and totally capable. But when she emails, she is nothing short of rude. Her emails sound like she is barking out orders: Tell this person this and Do this and Remember this. There is never a please or a reason (though I admit to always knowing the reason the directive is being given).

Given what I do – help people communicate more persuasively and influentially – you’d think I would have sat down with her and gently explained how poorly she represents herself to others in the email she writes.

If it hadn’t been for my mother, I definitely would have had that talk. But when I was a senior in college (and knew everything), I sent my mother back a letter she had written to me. An intelligent woman (who, with my dad, paid for my entire college education!) but for some reason, she never capitalized the days of the week. I had put up with this for 4 years of college (life is tough!) and had had enough. So, about to graduate with a degree in English and Education, I circled all the days of the week in this particular letter, in red, and sent her letter back with one of my own. In the return mail, came a succinct message from my mother: “Dear Sue, If you ever correct anything I write again, daddy and I stop paying.”

So you can see why I’m pretty gun shy about talking with this person who lives in another state and whose emails drive me nuts.

But I am telling you (and hopeful she reads this too!) because so often we don’t even realize the negative impression we make on people. I absolutely know this person would never be rude yet every time I open an email, I bristle! I work hard to give her the benefit of doubt and have to admit to stooping to a low place and sometimes responding in kind (by simply answering: Fine.). Be certain your emails extend your reputation, invite your recipients to buy into your ideas and create a sense of likeability.

Here is a brief start. Please post your suggestions to this list to ensure email recipients understand our intent as well as our content.

1.Start with a salutation.
Hi Name, Good morning Name, even “Hey Name” when you know each other. But, please start friendly to set friendly tone.

2. Please is a good word to use and softens any directive.

3. Being brief is a worthy goal; being blunt, not so much. Instead of just “yes” or “here it is” or “Will do” (all positive words), make it even more helpful to the reader by adding a bit of friendliness, perhaps:
Thanks for asking! You can count on it by Friday. Or:
Happy to help! You’ll have it before you leave.

4. End with a friendly close.
Try: All the best, Wishing you all the best, Warm regards, Warmest regards. Let your recipient how warmly you feel about them.

5. Stay away from text talk.
If it’s an email, spell out the words.

What else should we add to this list?

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