I recently wrote about Business Email Sign-offs. This prompted visitors to then ask about business email greetings. A couple of folks stated they receive many emails without greetings.
Without a friendly greeting (Hello, Hi, G’Day, Hey) at the beginning of your business email, and miss the opportunity to set the tone for the rest of your communication. Worse yet, 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 that in email, so many feel this little courtesy doesn’t apply?
I believe it is due to assumed informality. In reality, business email communications differ from text messaging or personal emails. However, many underestimate these essential relationship and networking communications skills. What impression will short, terse, sans basic courtesies emails provide?
Aren’t all emails Informal?
I’ve found over the years that many think writing skills and best practices do not come into play with business email. Primarily, they perceive email as an informal communication tool that negates the need for courtesy or being perceived as an educated professional in business.
Nothing is informal about building relationships, promoting your brand, or growing your network. The last thing you want to do is skip the steps necessary to being perceived as trustworthy, courteous, and educated, who knows how to communicate with the written word. By doing so, you risk your competitors easily outperforming 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 get away with that thought in your personal emails, but not business ones.
Coincidentally, it is the same group that also thinks it is not necessary to include necessary details. Nor do they believe having their name and a closing statement is essential. For example, “My name is in the From field. That’s good enough.”
Yes, there is common courtesy when communicating with the written word; you risk your emails being viewed as unprofessional without a greeting and closing. 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 the 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—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!
Big difference, right? The second example was courteous and transparent in their request by providing the details I needed. The sign-off makes one feel as though their efforts are appreciated.
I can get to work by providing the details needed to address her issue. In addition, this approach lets me resolve her request and note the situation 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, the extra unnecessary emails will ping both sides’ efficiency.
Can you see how the 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?