Do you just burst in unannounced?

It ticks people off

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"Hello, Hi, Hiya, Howzit, Howdee” are just a few of the many ways to greet people. According to my trusty dictionary, a greeting is "a polite word or sign of welcome or recognition” - simple, quick and powerful.

Many people feel as if they’re banging their head against a brick wall as they wait for people to respond or take action from sending out an email. Sound familiar? OK, well first, a quick question for you: you wouldn’t just burst the door open to someone's office, blurt out what you want to say and then slam the door shut as you leave would you? (Well, if you would, that’s another story!) In the main, you’d walk in and say “Morning, how are you?” or “Hey Jane, have you got a minute?” It constantly amazes me that people fire off emails without a single "Hello" or "Morning" and then wonder why they get mixed - if any - responses.

It’s the quickest way to irritate, unsettle and invite the other person to simply make you wait or ignore you. Never underestimate the power of giving people a sign of “welcome or recognition” to ease them – and you – into your message.

It takes about 5 seconds to type a few words of welcome and a friendly, polite sign off at the end. I call it 'topping and tailing' or 'adding subtle accessories' to your messages. Think about your emailing like going into someone’s office – you are, after all, appearing on their screen.

Topping and tailing makes a real difference to the way your message lands and how it makes the reader feel – and crucially - what they do once they’ve read it. It’s a quick and easy way of engaging people into action.

Notice the difference in how you feel reading these two examples:

  1. When can we get together to discuss XYZ? The deadline’s coming up, let’s find a date.
  2. Morning John, hope all goes well with you. When can we get together to discuss XYZ? The deadline’s coming up, so let’s find a date. Best wishes, Your Name

What about this statement, again a real-life example:

  1. I need to understand more about this before I can agree it. When can we speak?
  2. Hi there John, thanks for sending this across and I’ve read through it all. I need to understand more about this before I can agree it. When can we speak? Regards, Your Name

There’s a myriad of things you can do – and not do – to get people into action and respond to you in a way that makes sense to you both.

Think how many emails you send and receive every day and notice which ones you find easier to respond to and why. I bet the easier ones are from people who take just a few seconds to give you a bit of recognition before they ask, or tell you, what it is they want.

One of my clients told me that if she receives an email saying "Will you get XYZ to me by 5pm?" then that person waits extra-long for her response. As she says "If they haven't got time to be polite, I haven't got time to respond to them. They can wait."

Oh, and if you standardise your sign off, so it appears automatically, make sure it’s in the same typeface as the rest of the email. It’s better than no sign off at all, but if it comes out differently the reader knows you didn’t personalise it. Subtle again, but it’s the subtleties that make the difference, isn't it?

Known as the Savvy & Influential Communication Expert, our Life Labs contributor, Kay White, is hosting a unique 3-day Live Event “Show Up; Sparkle & Be Heard LIVE” in London on 9, 10, 11 June and as a guest of Psychologies, use the code GLITTERBALL and take 50% off your seat.

Let’s make it your time to shine at work without selling your soul. When would now be a better time to go for Promotion, Recognition and Rewards all while being true to yourself?

For further immediate ‘shots’ of inspiration and tactics on showing up at work in a way which gets you heard and understood, try Kay’s Weekly Podcast on iTunes:Show Up; Sparkle & Be Heard. They’re short and snappy and full of tips to inspire and guide you at work.

Kay White

Savvy & Influential Communication for Ambitious Women in Business,


Go to the profile of Ellen Rowlands
almost 6 years ago
Really interesting read. Definitely going to try thinking of an email as walking into a room and greeting people.
Go to the profile of Kay White
almost 6 years ago
Thanks Ellen and it's not about making a big song and dance of course, just a simple use of the person's name as you open is SO much more connecting than nothing!