[E-mail Ninja] Your email identity

If you live in constant fear of being watched, you’ve probably figured out that pimples and CCTV are a big scare. And so are mobile cameras and microphones. In a world like this, rules are simple: You want to be seen? Show yourself well. Talking to your boss? Look as smart as he does. Getting married? Best bib and tucker’s a must!

We chicken out of big occasions if we’re not feeling just about perfect. We don’t get a photoshoot in our salivated-on pyjamas. Nobody here at Language Extreme meets a customer after a big work-out sweat, until properly showered, perfumed, and blessed by Kors and Versace. Image matters, right?

If it indeed does, think of your emails – don’t they show you to the world? Don’t they reveal a most personal image of who you are – at least in a given context?

Email correspondence speaks volumes. Read your emails and you will surely know so much about the people you write with. Not because they say too much to all and sundry, but because text is a fingerprint that codes information on so many subjects. If you have corresponded for months, your recipients have already built a portrait of who you are, even if you have never met face to face. They most likely know a lot about the following:

  • Your time management skills (Do you respond in a timely manner? Do you spend enough time on key messages? Do your emails look hurried? Are you still at work at midnight? Or do you, like myself, wake up at 4:00 a.m.?)
  • Your expertise (Do you use vocabulary that reflects your competences and education? Do you answer questions in an exhaustive manner? Do you often ask for time to consult colleagues?)
  • Your grasp of language (Do you care about grammar, spelling and punctuation rules of whatever language you correspond in? Are your messages concise, well phrased and juicy? How accurate are they? Do you, like Donald, avoid words longer than 3 syllables?)
  • Your position and relationships with colleagues (Do you CC every email to your boss just to be on the safe side? Do you care about what your emails look like from your team’s perspective? Do you declare in a preaching tone or do you perhaps prefer to ask?)
  • Your attitude (Do you reply to help, or to play the ball? Do you build relationships, or give info? Do you write to facilitate understanding or to entrench yourself?)
  • Your holiday (Have you reviewed your footer for information on planned absences? What does your autoresponder say about your trips abroad?)

That’s plenty of detail, much of which is strongly related to our careers and private lives. Do you want your emails to show what they really do? What image do you want to build, specifically? Would you prefer to read bossy, concise and demanding? Or perhaps a welcoming, sympathetic, inventive attitude would suit your needs more? If you want to determine your emailing style and be in control, think of some strategic decisions that affect your email identity:

  • Direct address

You have skipped the “dear” a number of times, haven’t you? You’ve moved to the point, and didn’t think it necessary to get a personal, direct, warm word anywhere in there, right? That’s fair in a hectic world, sure. But think of how much your partners like to know you are writing TO THEM. Use their names, add interpersonal power to make your recipients feel they’re your best pals. Even if it’s not yet the case.

  • Lead-in

Nothing happens if there’s no “I’m writing to…”. Miracles happen if you include an opening phrase of this sort. Clarity is increased, your purpose is stated, order is established, readers get happier with every word. A lead-in organizes content and focuses attention. When these goals are achieved, you can develop your argumentation in whatever follows.

  • Formality

The absence thereof shall inevitably result in a radical diminution in respect of the above mentioned excess of interpersonal borders. See? Too much is too much. And yeah, we love to be direct and super clear. Want to know why? Try to make friends with: “Could you take you a look at…?” rather than “Would you perhaps be willing to consider taking a look at…?” and you will see for yourself. Emailing culture is born of respect of rules, and of clever attempts to break away from convention.

  • Proofreading

It is a feature of great emailers that they deliberately check their correspondence for mistakes, redundancies, and general nonsense. They think of structure, correctness, and necessity. If you want your message to have impact, read it yourself first, and think of what you get. It is best to have second opinion, too. Especially when the thing’s big. If you don’t think you can bother your colleagues to have your emails corrected, sign up for our Document Check and send your writing to check@languageextreme.pl

  • Multiple addressees

Human beings love to be included. Team members, too, on condition that they need it. If you have just CCed everyone at work just in case they are interested, somebody’s bound to think you are hyperactive, incompetent or a bootlicker.

  • Your signature and footer

We have seen them, haven’t we? Email footers are artistic objects – fruits of a creative process. They often draw readers’ attention away from the content of the message, though. Make them simple and original, and they will communicate effectively to whoever is with you in the digital world.

A large territory – that’s what emails are. If you want to build your competences and make sure you are a champion at Powerful Emailing, read our next articles. Want real, live experience? Contact Language Extreme at ninja@languageextreme.pl

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