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Posts Tagged ‘personality’

Six Ideas to Bring Life to Your Business Emails

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Work can certainly be boring sometimes, but you don’t need to let your own emails contribute to this.  Show some passion for your work, and you just might find yourself enjoying work just a bit more.

1.  Show some personality

Read your last three emails.  Do they sound dry?  Do they talk only about the problem at hand?  Why not show a little reaction to what’s going on?

I’m not saying that you should be completely off the cuff, or that you should tell your boss exactly what he can do with that unexpected problem, but a little reaction is usually okay.  For example, instead of saying:

The printer encountered a DSX00034 error again.  Can someone from IT come down and fix the problem?

You can add a little personality to show why it’s important.  You might be able to get a more permanent solution.

The printer encountered a DSX00034 error again.  Each time this happens, we lose at least an hour of productivity.  This frustrates us and makes it harder to focus on getting our jobs done.

Can someone from IT come down and fix the problem?  Is there a more permanent solution?  Is there something we can do to avoid the error?

In the first email, the problem will likely get fixed (for now).  The second email shows a bit of personality, and asks the IT department for a bit of brainstorming from their experience.  IT is also likely to see the requester as a person rather than a problem.  This makes them more willing to help.

2.  Add a quote that shows your personality

This one comes with a caveat:  make sure it’s appropriate for your business.  I love to use one from Mark Twain:  “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

When people can relate to your quote, they’re more likely to want to help you.  I enjoy Mark Twain’s quote because it speaks to my creativity in solving problems, as well as my passion for writing.

My mind’s always running, and I don’t mind sharing that with people.  If I find some aspect of work boring, I’m always looking for ways to make it fun.

3.  Praise people where possible (and appropriate)

Everyone loves to see praise with their name in the place of honor.  When used carefully, this can do a lot to build relationships across your team.

Plus, it’s cheap, costing only a few moments of your time.

Even better, most people, after being praised, start to look for something they can praise about someone else.  It’s contagious.  When people look for positive things at work, they’re more likely to enjoy life there.  Most of us spend a third of our lives working — shouldn’t we enjoy it?

As a side benefit, if you’re known for giving praise, people are more likely to read your emails and respond to them more quickly.  Even if there’s no praise there, they’ll be hoping that the next email contains some praise.

Even something as simple as saying “Wow, that was fast, Bob!” will go a long way towards making sure it happens again.

4.  Use your recipient’s name

This goes hand-in-hand with #3.  People are drawn to their name, and using their name will have additional impact.

However, be careful with this method.  Use it only if you’re asking for specific action or giving praise, and only rarely if giving criticism.

When giving criticism, you should actually avoid using your recipients name to avoid making the criticism personal.


Bob was instrumental in getting this fix out the door in the fastest possible time, while maintaining a high level of quality.

Bob, do you think you can have an answer back to me by 5pm tomorrow?

The fix was late due to missing information on the XYZ component.


Bob’s failure to respond caused the fix to be late.

Remember, you should be trying to give life to your emails, not kill morale at the office.  While the DON’T sample might be temporarily satisfying, it’s going to cause a ton of friction between you and Bob.

5.  Share interesting (and related) news articles with your team

Most people who use the Internet and email to do their work do take short breaks to surf.  Use this time productively to find interesting articles related to your business and help your company succeed.

As an example, let’s say that you find a story that talks about a more efficient process to perform task XYZ at work.  If you pass this information along to your team, you might be saving your company thousands or millions of dollars.  All employers love lower costs, so by doing your part to help this, you may very well be helping your own career along.

6.  Invite debate

This one’s a tricky one.  Often, it’s best to pick a direction and proceed, and people do respond to positively to decisiveness.

However, for medium to large decisions that affect multiple people, it’s often good to propose one or two solutions and  invite constructive criticism.  You’ll often receive a better product in the end, and people will see you as a team player.

As a side benefit, you also get a better understanding of the people you work with.  You may find that people just go along with whatever’s proposed — perhaps because it doesn’t matter, or perhaps because they don’t care about the final solution.

However, more often, people love to voice their opinion, especially when faced with two or three choices.  When you get to choose how your work affects you, you’re often more happy with the decision, even if it results in (gasp!) more work.

In the spirit of this last tip, what do you think?  What other ways do you add life to your emails?

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