Yesterday I made granadinas, a Spanish almond cookie I have baked for years. Because of the health risks of Crisco, which I have always used for the cookies, I tried lard for the first time. The cookies failed.
My granadinas simply were not as tasty as the dozens of times I have made them in the past. An important ingredient seemed to be missing. When I left home and returned to my kitchen later, I realized that even the lovely aroma of the cookies was missing. That is when I realized the problem was more than the use of lard.
I had forgotten to add the cinnamon.
That quarter teaspoon of cinnamon made all the difference. The lack of it led to cookies that were merely crisp and serviceable, not wonderfully tasty–despite the ground almonds, flour, eggs, sugar, and a dash of salt.
Business writing is always on my mind, and the missing cinnamon soon reminded me of the missing ingredients in writing. Even when your messages are concise, clear, and seemingly complete, something may be missing. It might be something pleasing, like cinnamon.
Could it be a greeting? According to my survey of 686 adults working in the U.S., 45 percent of people prefer that emails to them include a greeting and their name (49 percent don't care).
Could it be the word please in a written request? The survey showed that 70 percent of people prefer please or similar polite language in the requests they receive. An additional 10 percent feel disappointed, irritated, or angry if such language is missing.
Before you send an email, text, or another message, why not take a moment to consider the ingredients. Perhaps some relationship-building language or positive words (pleased, happy to, look forward) sprinkled in would take your message from bland to delightful–just like the cinnamon in my recipe for granadinas.
Note: My recipe is from Penelope Casas' Foods and Wines of Spain. The survey data is from my new book, Business Writing With Heart: How to Build Great Work Relationships One Message at a Time.
Which ingredients are missing from the messages you read?