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How To Write an Email, Part 3: The Greeting


Robby

I know that these days, emails are often fired off in a few seconds while you’re standing in line at the grocery store. That doesn’t give much time for any kind of greeting, but to me this is an essential part of an email. Take a look at this example message:

Can you please print five copies of the latest version of the Peterson report for our 2PM meeting?

This message is certainly brief. It seems effective and respectful—it even contains the word “please!” But look how much nicer it is with just a tiny bit more polish:

Hi Robby,

Can you please print five copies of the latest version of the Peterson report for our 2PM meeting?

Just adding an introductory word and the name of the recipient has an incredible psychological effect. As Dale Carnegie once said, The greatest sound in the English language is the sound of your own name! We love it when people call our name. We feel important and recognized, and we know that a message was meant for just us.

This tip also helps out tremendously when you’re writing a message to multiple recipients. Not only does it make it clear who you’re talking to, but it forces you to think about how the message will be interpreted by individual people. Take a look again at the same message, but presume it’s also being sent to Mary Ann, who will be joining by teleconference:

Can you please print five copies of the latest version of the Peterson report for our 2PM meeting?

It’s not entirely clear why Mary Ann is being sent this email. But if you write a greeting, the need for a second sentence becomes more clear. After all, now you’re thinking about both John and Mary Ann as individuals:

Hi John and Mary Ann,

Can you please print five copies of the latest version of the Peterson report for our 2PM meeting? Mary–be sure to get the latest version from our Intranet site since you will be on the conference call.

It might seem like a minor point, but a greeting word such as “Hi,” “Hello,” or even “Greetings” can really set up an email. Putting the name of the recipient helps out significantly as well.

Try it and see what you think. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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About the Blogger: Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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Mon, June 27 2011 » Technology Tips

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