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Don’t Fall for the Email Terse Trap

Why you should avoid being terse in business emails.

Life is crazy. Business is busy. When life and business stress collide, some tend to get terse. I’ve been guilty of that myself when under the gun.

Lately, the trend where the frustration that comes with that is seeping into business emails appears more often. Increasingly it seems blunt, terse, stressed-out emails with demanding requests fill our inboxes.

I get it. Running a business is challenging and includes a bunch of stress. Throw in some life stress, and you have a volatile cocktail. But with that is an opportunity for all of us to rise above.

Here is a list of questions I have that I need your response on today!

Sent at 4p from a client I’ve not heard from in 2 years.

Why are you not responding?

In regard to an email I had just received an hour before.

I need this ASAP!

Responding to now my month-old follow up asking for more info for what they “need ASAP.”

Email Tone Reflects Respect

It is business as usual for those who email in this manner. I cringe when I see their names in my inbox.

Sadly, they do not respect my time or our partnership by communicating this way. It also makes me wonder how their businesses will succeed if this is the way they unnecessarily communicate with business partners.

Unfortunately, the tone of many of these emails can make you want to let them know you don’t appreciate their style. But don’t fall for the “Terse Trap.” This is your opportunity to respond as the true professional that you are.

Always Professional. Always.

When you email me, you get a Hello and a friendly greeting regardless of your tone or whether you were nice enough to do the same. I then take the time to answer all questions point by point.

Regarding my WordPress Consulting services, I respond with details and always end with, “If you have any questions, please let me know.” In addition, I finish all emails with a nice closing or a “Take care” and like to keep that personal human touch to all my emails.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to do business and communicate with people I like. People who show courtesy and concern above and beyond what they may want. No person’s time is more or less valuable than someone on the other side.

When you portray this attitude in your business email, it will cause resistance to long-term partnerships. As a result, I’ve learned to carefully screen potential clients based on how they approach me.

Customers shouldn’t think they can be rude or terse to providers simply because they are paying customers. But, unfortunately, with this approach, you may quickly find you will be a customer that some may not work all that hard to keep.

Managers Set Examples

The same goes for managers who communicate rudely to subordinates because they are under the gun. Or they are “the boss.” They will realize, sometimes too late, that the apparent lack of trust and teamwork is due only to their lack of inspiration.

True professionals communicate in a kind and cordial manner regardless of what kind of day they are having. No matter how much stress they are under or frustrated by the tone of an incoming request.

True professionals do not use email to pull rank or offer uninformed commentary they wouldn’t otherwise make if face-to-face. Nor do they disregard courteous protocols that reflect you’ve made an effort to understand the technology in which you are participating.

Newsflash: You don’t demand respect; you earn it.

Email is all about perception. Those you communicate with a look at how you type, what words you choose, and how you choose (or don’t make an effort) to use them.

Don’t kid yourself for a minute by thinking that email etiquette can be disregarded for even one business email. It may be just that email where you lose the other side’s confidence, trust, partnership, or even willingness to communicate with you further.

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