On Saturday The New York Times ran a humorous column “I Hope You’re Well,” by Kerry Elson. In case you are unable to access The New York Times online, here are two opening exchanges from the piece:
I hope you’re well. I can’t seem to find the attachment. Please re-send.
All the best,
I hope you’re well, too. Thank you for checking on my wellness — wellness has been on my mind. What are the chances that two associates at Sullivan & Partners are thinking about wellness at the same time? Lately I’ve been pondering my spiritual wellness. Sometimes I wonder, “What is my purpose?” The thought is overwhelming. Here’s the attachment.
I hope you’re doing well. Please let me know if the PowerPoint is ready.
I am well, thanks to my homemade spirulina snack balls. I didn’t realize you also were into alternative medicine! I thought I was the only one at Cromwell Consulting who was seeking a more proactive approach to health. I feel that the medical establishment is so focused on disease. Here is the PowerPoint.
The piece contains three more clever email exchanges, ending with one in which the writer does not ask about the other person’s wellness. You can guess what the outcome is.
Other than a teaser after the title (“Is it possible to send an email anymore without this phrase?”), there’s no other content in Kerry Elson’s column–just those funny exchanges. But the point is clear. Do we need to address the other person’s wellness if all we want is something simple, like access to an attachment?
I almost never address “wellness” in my work emails, but I decided to see how I communicate the right degree of friendliness. I just checked my last few work emails and have included the openings and closings below. You will recognize my brief efforts to communicate warmth.
Message 1 beginning:
Hi Sherri, (a potential client)
Thank you for the question.
Message 1 ending:
If you have any other questions, just let me know.
Message 2 beginning:
Hi Kim, (a client)
You have an interesting situation.
Message 2 closing:
Message 3 beginning:
Hi Heather, (our webmaster)
We are having trouble with our table weight shipping.
Message 3 close:
Message 4 beginning:
Hi Samantha, (a fellow association member)
As part of the XXXXX survey, I would like to schedule a short phone call with you.
Message 4 close:
Thanks! I look forward to your input.
Message 5 beginning:
Thank you for ordering Business Writing With Heart.
Message 5 close:
Again, thank you very much for your order!
Check your emails. How do you communicate warmth, friendliness, respect, or a hint of your humanity? Please share what you find, along with any relevant rules you have for email etiquette.
Back in 2012 I wrote a blog post on openings for international emails, “Opening Sentences for Global Email.” You will see that I do recommend warm openings (including about “wellness”) when communicating around the globe.