Engaging in an empathetic exchange via email

You get them—business emails, some you want, some you don’t, some you subscribe to and some that are spamming you.

And you write them—business emails, some that people want and some they don’t want.

What’s the secret to making yours most welcomed and read?

Have empathy and care in how you craft your emails.

Yes, empathy and care.

How in the world do you convey empathy and care in a written document that may or may not be read in the time frame, mood or light in which you write it?

Be sincere and imagine you are the recipient, the reader of the intended email. This does not mean you write the way you read, rather it means writing with consideration of how the reader will likely read the message.

Since this is not a column on psychoanalyzing someone, nor will it ever be, here are four tips:

Start with the subject line.

Make the subject interesting.

Note if there is a due date or urgency (true urgency) and use of RESPONSE REQUESTED by DATE.

Keep the subject short and concise.

Change the subject line if the information, or message, content changes.

Meet the recipient with a greeting and their name.

Saying something like “Hi, Steve!” or “Good morning, Juanita!” leads with feeling.

Skipping the greeting, or using only “Hey” or their name “Bob-“is better than nothing, yet adds no point of connection or personalization.

Start with something other than the word “I” in your first paragraph. This allows for the reader to know the message is for them and not simply about you or from you. The difference in writing “I am reaching out to say thanks for our meeting yesterday” and writing “Thank you for making time to meet yesterday” is the difference in your perspective and the recipient’s time/interest.

Avoid “See attached” or “Per your request” as your full message, as those are cold and distant.

Skip the “See below” messages that are time consuming for the recipient to figure out and show little thought about the recipient’s take on you or your approach, as the reader has to read through your signature and back through to the original message with your edits. Instead, copy and past the questions asked and answer them in your email directly.

Use punctuation for flow and the reader to know where, minimally to stop and start, as well as share your thoughts without simply being “train of thought” typing.

After sharing your ideas, or requests, in the body of the email (briefly and with bullets when possible), close your email by owning the follow-through. What is that? It’s sharing a message such as “Considering you may have a full schedule, should we not be in touch this week, I will happily call you next week” instead of “Let me know your thoughts this week.” The former close is positive and lets the reader know they can reach out or not, and that you are going to be good either way.

Whether you use this language or this approach exactly, engaging in an empathetic exchange via email can be done with some forethought, purpose and perspective as you realize people’s inboxes are filling, and yours is one they will likely want to read.

Debbie Lundberg is the founder and CEO of the Florida-based firm Presenting Powerfully. An 11-time published author, certified virtual presenter, certified life coach, certified leadership coach and certified image consultant, she is a performance coach who co-hosts the Business of Life Master Class podcast. Her latest book, Remote Work Rockstar, has become a guide for working and leading virtually.

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