[E-mail Ninja]: Polite as Hell

Is it possible to be too polite with your emails? 

Of course it is, you silly! Being “painfully polite”, also known as politosis, is a common emailing illness that reduces the emailer’s resistance to bullshit, and slowly kills efficiency. It’s good to avoid it, if you want your correspondence to look splendid.

One thing is your image. Rule number one of aggressive profiteering is: politeness makes you soft. There’s more to it, though. When you try to be extremely kind, you might sound insecure rather than confident. Sometimes that’s the exact opposite of what you want to be. Planning a career, right? Want to be a big boss, right? Going crazy on your polite notes will help, but only at times. You should be perceived as an expert at what you do, not as an eager beginner.

Another aspect is relationships. Many new hires are afraid of using their colleagues’ first names, for instance. They believe that it is rude to be on a first-name basis with unknown person or their boss. We know that so well, don’t we? Instead of getting to the point, we pluck up our courage to even get in touch with this big fish. Slows you down, doesn’t it? While gradual development of our friendliness with people is a natural process, the keeping of formal, linguistic boundaries – is a cultural one. If you want to be smooth, use formality in a smart way.

In the email context, this means a couple of things. For instance, you do not have to reply to every “thanks” email to show that you are more thankful for “thank you” email than your colleague. Respect your own time! Look at this, for example:

MONICA:
Dear John, It was extremely nice to meet you. I hope you are doing well. 🙂 Let me know if you have more questions.
Best regards,
Monica

JOHN:
Dear Monica,
We are even more delighted to meet you, too! You are such a great person. 🙂 We cannot wait to meet you again. I am personally very grateful for the opportunity.
Best wishes,
John

MONICA:
Hi, John,
Oh please… you made me blush like a paprika 😀
Best regards,
M.

JOHN:
Hi, It’s nothing but the truth 🙂
Best regards,
J.

MONIKA:
Oh, thank you so much, you are a true gentleman.
With the very best wishes,
M.

JOHN:
Not at all, you deserve it all. Thanks a lot for the compliment, though.
Yours,
J.

 

Looks romantic, sure. How much time does it take off your calendar, though! Of course, it is very nice when someone appreciates you or your job but after the fifteenth e-mail like this, you will feel dizzy and lose these precious minutes. Plus, you don’t want people to think you’re obsessed about them, do you?

Instead of writing “thank you” three hundred seventy-eight times use one fixed phrase “thank you in advance”. It is easy, comfortable and efficient! If one example is not enough, let’s try with “I appreciate your help”. It may be used if you are asking for assistance and you are pretty sure that your collocutor is going to help you because your working cooperation is in process. Of course, there is one exception. This rule does not apply only if you are talking to your own grandma. In this particular case you can be extremely polite and no one will blame you on it.

Length. I know that asking for a favour might be a bit unpleasant but writing “I’m sorry, I was wondering, if you could perhaps consider offering assistance in the scope of activities related to our business, if it is not a problem, of course”, is a bit odd, isn’t it? So many words and too little content. Your recipient will drop dead before they finish the sentence. There is nothing bad in asking for help, but try to make it smart. Why not try some of these options? To be simple, go with:

  • “Could you help me with…”
  • “Could you give me a hand with this?”
  • “Would you mind helping me?”
  • “Could you do me a favour?”
  • “I’m wondering if you could help me with…”.

It’s time to pick your favourite expression. Go ahead and be effectively polite!


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