What’s the tone of your voice in emails? Are you short and to-the-point, businesslike? Maybe sometimes even abrasive? Of course, you’re not at work to write a novel in emails. But using salutations in emails isn’t a big thing while the results can be incredible – as both research and practice show! We explore the research in the Academy (join us if you want to know more) but let’s take a look at some experiences.

One student shared: “I’ve always used greetings and sign offs – hi, hope your day is going well – thanks and take care. I’ve had feedback before that it’s “takes too long to read” (what does that say about our culture?), but to me it feels natural. It’s who I am – basically a friendly person.

I made a conscious decision to be deliberately positive in all my emails – just like I’d speak naturally. I slipped up on this once about a year ago during a particularly challenging time at work and made a sarcastic remark to something ridiculous. I got an immediate response, saying I wasn’t upholding the culture I was meant to be role-modelling. A good lesson.”

“Some personalities, however, do not seem to be impacted much by personal greetings,” observes someone. “That’s okay. These individuals can still count on me for the positive spin! At some level, I know it makes a difference.” He’s right about that. Greetings make a difference to the vibe and influence the interpersonal relations and expectations.

Transactional or personal?

Another student: “I differentiate between emails that are transactional and those that are interpersonal. For example, the report that I have to send to 20 plus people within and external to the organization are not goig to get personalized messages. Those that are looking for a confirmation that a task is complete will get a one word response, “Done”, which would be the norm in our culture.

Sending an interpersonal relationship message to the same person who received a “Done” message is completely different, and the recipient understands this as well as I do. The messages do have a personal greeting, will focus on positive aspects of how things are going and exploring options to deal with things that are not going well. They may very well also include an invite to get coffee.”

This is a great example of what is normal and understood in their culture. It’s either transactional or personal, and that seems to work for them. Yet, even businesslike messages could be made warmer by adding a name (and still keep it short): John: done. Or: Hi, it’s done!

From greetings to compliments

Somone noticed that adding greetings to emails, actually makes it easier to send a compliment as well. Moreover, doing so started to influence the culture. More people started to send positive emails.

“For my own team, I try to include a specific quality or action I am grateful for, when sending individual emails. It does set a different tone—I know when I receive a personal greeting or sincere compliment, I truly appreciate it and am more likely to “pay it forward” in my next email. It grows!”

This aligns with the research. It’s simple (as many successful interventions are) and easy to do – and it really works. Positive emails help in building more trust, more positivity, and it’s something that you could do as of now.

By the way, when you start sending positive feedback by email, you may receive it in return. Most people love getting email compliments: it is nice to save them for a rainy day. When things don’t go great, you can read them and instantly feel a little more positive. That’s the spirit that will help you and your team proceed.

If sharing compliments by email goes too far at this point, start by adding greetings. It makes a difference to your email tone of voice. Then, observe what happens over time. You might be positively surprised…

Do you want to learn more about what positive emails can do for your organization? Join this Positive Culture Academy. Many people are starting in September, if you want to learn with others! That’s why we have a special, temporary offer. Go to the enroll page to check it out! The curriculum can be done self-paced as well. Help your team or organization develop its positive potential.

© Marcella Bremer, 2018. All rights reserved.

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