Without a friendly greeting (Hello, Hi, G’Day, Hey) at the beginning of your business email, you risk your email being perceived as demanding or terse.
When you call someone on the phone, you don’t just start talking without a greeting. In off-line letters, you do the same. So why is it then that in email, so many feel this little courtesy doesn’t apply?
It can’t be because it takes too much time or effort. Typing a simple “Hello” and a name takes little time and effort. So why do so many skip this step?
Assumed informality. Business email communications are not the same as text messaging. However, many treat these essential relationships and networking communications as if they were. Short, terse, no basic courtesies.
All Email is Informal?
I’ve found over the years that many think writing skills and best practices do not come into play with email. It’s an informal communication tool, yes, but that doesn’t negate the need for courtesy or being perceived as an educated professional when it comes to business.
There is nothing informal about building relationships, promoting your brand, or growing your network. Skip the steps necessary to you being perceived as a courteous and educated person who knows how to communicate with the written word, and you do so knowing competitors can easily outperform you.
Here’s an example: No Greeting vs. Greeting
Without a greeting:
I want you to follow-up on my last memo and make sure that everyone noted received their copy. John
With a greeting (and a dash of courtesy):
Can you please follow-up on my last memo and make sure that everyone noted received their copy?
Of course, the added “Thank you” is always a nice touch when asking someone to do something on your behalf.
Over time, negating the use of a greeting can cause the other side to cringe when they see your name in their inbox. They’ll wonder what bossy request you may have next.
And to think… This perception can easily be avoided by simply taking the time to add a little: “Hello,”
Do Not Underestimate Greetings (and details)
“Email is informal — that stuff isn’t necessary!” You may be able to get away with that train of thought in your personal emails, but not with business emails.
Coincidentally, it is the same group that also thinks it not necessary to include necessary details. Nor do they believe it to be important to have their name and a closing statement. For example, “My name is in the From field.”
Besides being a common courtesy when communicating with the written word, without a greeting and closing, your emails risk being viewed as unprofessional. Opportunity lost?
You bet. Don’t be surprised if potential customers choose to do business with competitors who take the time to add these little extras. Competitors who make communicating with them an easy, enjoyable, and efficient experience.
Greetings = Tone = Perception
Here is another example to illustrate what a difference the little details can make.
First, the emailer who feels greetings, clarity, and courtesy are not necessary:
my site isn’t working you need to fix this now – get back to me ASAP
What exactly isn’t working? No “Hello,” no thank you, no proper sentence structure or courtesy involved. Just a statement of what the sender wants to get across.
Now, add a greeting with a dash of detail, a little courtesy, and a closing…
Hope you are having a nice day. I was wondering if you could check out an issue with my website? The portfolio page is not laying out correctly and the internal links are not working. The page’s URL is… (request continues).
Thanks for your help!
The second example was courteous and transparent in their request by providing the details I need. The sign-off makes one feel as though their efforts are appreciated.
By providing the details needed to address her issue that allows me to get to work. This approach enables me to resolve her request and note what the situation was in my reply.
With the first inquiry, besides the demanding tone, I would have to reply and ask questions to determine the “problem” before investigating further. In addition, extra unnecessary emails required that ping efficiency.
Can you now see how the very same request can be perceived differently simply by adding a little greeting, common courtesy, and a closing? Which type of communicator would you prefer to partner with?