We mentioned in the previous post that ensuring politeness and a soft tone is important when wanting to make a good impression, and receiving a positive reply!
Here are some examples of what we mean:
“My lunch has been disappearing from the lunchroom fridge, and I was wondering if perhaps anyone has mistakenly taken mine, thinking it was theirs?”
There are several helpful tools in the above sentence:
- It places the object (your lunch) as the subject of the sentence, not your colleagues. This ensures the tone is not accusatory or personal.
- It uses vague language, such as ‘perhaps’. Again, this ensures the email does not sound accusatory and it invites conversation, rather than confrontation.
- Helpful phrases such as ‘I was wondering’ are crucial. Why? Because it creates distance. Distance in tone means it is, again, less personal and confrontational. This will invite the reader to consider your words, rather than dismiss them because they feel offended.
Note the ‘was’ in the above phrase. Now, we know that you are writing now and you want some answers now. However, placing your message in the present tense creates a sense of urgency and comes across as demanding – which again can cause people to feel under pressure and not want to engage with you.
Another example of this phrase being helpful is in follow up emails:
“I was wondering if you’ve had a chance to read the email I sent yesterday?” Rather than, “Have you read my email yet?”
Read each of these examples aloud, can you hear a difference? That difference can make all the difference in communicating your point effectively!
Now, you may rightly point out, this is making my email longer rather than keeping it succinct. True – in order to soften the tone & make our written communication polite, it does sometimes require that we use more words, not less. However, as long as we don’t include subject matter that is irrelevant or superfluous, these vital, ‘softening extras’ go a long way to ensuring a successful result from your emails.
Think of your emails – especially the really important ones – as precious cargo. If you’re wanting to send a valuable object in the mail, you ensure adequate padding and packaging is used, right?
It’s no different to our emails. Package your message correctly, using the above template. And make sure it has padding surrounding it – those softening devices – to avoid misunderstanding, confusion, or outright rejection!
Lastly, end your email on a strong and positive note. Thank the recipient for their time and express that you look forward to hearing from them at their earliest convenience. Signing off on a good tone can make a lasting impression on the receiver.
In following these simple tools, you will be consistently producing effective emails – to colleagues, managers and clients.
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