Where I live, bright red signs of Valentine's Day are everywhere–hearts, flowers, candies, cupids, and sugary cookies. You can buy a special valentine for almost anyone: sweetheart, lover, wife, husband, mother, someone like a mother, friend, child, sister, brother, grandpa, nana, teacher, boss, etc.
If you would like to earn more valentines at work–in other words, to be liked and appreciated more by coworkers and others–try these business writing tips:
- When you send an email or a text, greet your reader by name, just as you would in person or on the phone. Use Hi, Hello, Good morning, or another greeting. Diving into the message without a greeting ignores the fact that your reader is human.
- Take time to double-check the spelling of people’s names. Kathryn will not feel appreciated if your message calls her Catherine. At least once or twice each week, someone addresses me as Lynne rather than my name, Lynn.
- Use positive phrases such as glad to, happy to, and look forward to communicate warmth and helpfulness.
- Use please and thank you even in routine messages. Begin most of your replies with a thank-you, for example, "Thank you for letting me know," "Thanks for reaching out," or "Thank you for asking."
- Keep yourself on a first-name basis with your reader. Include your first name at the end of an email—not just your signature block. Using your first name helps you come across as a person rather than a position.
- Avoid abrupt one- and two-word messages that confuse people and damage relationships. Curb any desire to go crazy with punctuation. Writing "Why??!!!!!" or "Why NOT?!!!!" boots you off the Nice list.
- Reply quickly whenever you can. Don’t leave coworkers, employees, and customers watching the clock and waiting for your message.
- Take time to write thoughtful messages such as thank-yous, congratulations, sympathy notes, and positive feedback. If you invest in people with these messages, you'll be forgiven an occasional gaffe.
- Avoid replying to all or copying others on an email in which you blame the reader or even hint at a criticism. Public shaming can earn you a permanent bad reputation.
- Even though you want to warm up a relationship, avoid words like hon and sweetie, which are too sticky sweet for business messages. Instead, use the person's name–and spell it correctly.
For detailed advice on the challenging relationship side of writing, get my award-winning book Business Writing With Heart. It can be a thoughtful gift for someone you like (including yourself). The e-book is available from Amazon around the world.
Do you have relationship-building communication tips to share? I would love to read them.
Happy Valentine's Day!