It’s amazing how much of ‘work’ in our age is done via email. Yet, it is one of those things for which we never receive any kind of formal training! We are expected to go out into the world and just ‘do it’ and hopefully, just ‘do it right.’
Email is likely to pop up more than a few times on this work hacks feature as a result since I’ve learnt a tremendous amount about email over the past few years and have witnessed the amount of value it can add if done right (which, like most things, is pretty hard!.
Today’s focus will be on email nice-ities.
Disclaimer: Email nice-ities are a personal style thing. We all have our own preferences and styles. So, I’ll do my best to focus less on what I do vs why I do it. The principles should hold in most, if not all, cases.
Hacks and Principles:
1. Starting the email with a ‘Dear’
In a formal context, I am big on using ‘Dear’ as a precursor to the name. ‘Hey’ works if I know the person well. I never send an email addressing the person just by their name.
Here, the principle is very personal. When I receive an email that starts without a ‘Dear’ or a ‘Hey’, it feels to me a bit like an order/what one would use if pissed off. And, since I am not a fan of the style, I don’t send it to anyone else.
That said, I realize this is very common and not intended this way. I warned you though.. some of this is just personal preference. My view, in any case, is that you can’t go wrong starting an email with a ‘Dear’. And when you are young and learning the ropes, I find it’s best to take ‘no risk’ approaches in such things.
2. Warm first line like ‘Hope you are doing well.’
If I am reaching out to someone for the first time, I like putting in a first line like ‘Hope you are doing well.’ This is similar to calling a person and saying ‘How are you?’ before jumping into business. Even if the answer is a formal ‘Good, good, thank you!’ and a note about the weather’, I’ve learnt that these nice-ities matter.
3. Ending line like ‘Do let me know if I can help in any way.’/’Thank you so much’/’Looking forward to hearing from you!’
This is all contextual of course but again, the principle is that nice-ities matter!
4. Closing line like ‘Best Regards’
Lifehacker had a very good article on email closing lines that I featured once. A good read and hopefully that helps.
In my case, I typically alternate between ‘Thank you, and best regards’, ‘Thanks and best’, ‘Best regards’ and ‘Best’ depending on context.
5. Signature (if applicable) like ‘Sent from my handheld’
For most of us, the company probably puts this in by default. We often do have control over our mobile phone signatures. Again, I have a post from the past that is inspired from a Lifehacker article.
The end result. in my case, is ‘Sent from my handheld. Please ignore all typos’
6. Smileys – a bonus
While I would never use smileys in an email to anyone unfamiliar, I do use smileys when I know someone well. I am a fan of them because they often depict the mood of an email and lighten the little things like when you are asking someone for a favour.
Of course, this is all contextual but I’ve found them to be very useful in conveying the ‘feeling’ of an email right.
As I said, a lot here is style dependent. I’ve picked most of these up from others and some of these from articles and the like. Would love to understand how you do it as well..