I spent many years working in local government in the UK. Sometimes, the job was quite difficult. I often had to ask people to do things that I couldn’t do myself, and I wasn’t their manager. Directly asking for something to be done did not always get an immediate response and I could not expect they would be cooperative. I learnt that when I had something in common with the person, or I found something out about them, that it made the task easier for them to do and that they were, in a way, more helpful.
The status of emails, at least in the English language, has evolved over the past 15 years.
I remember emails from 15 years ago being issued with text message speak and poor or no punctuation. However, today they are a valid form of communication by many in business – equivalent to a letter. Therefore, this has increased the importance of the salutation at the beginning of an email. What kind of tone do you want your email to have? What is the right tone, and does it depend on who you are writing to?
One of my first office-based jobs was as an Assistant Project Manager.
I was responsible for servicing meetings – having to send out agendas, minutes, notify clients of meetings etc.
One time I sent out an email explaining the reason for having a meeting, and, having explained why, then put the important actions at the end. I was told off for doing this – my manager said that no-one would notice this information at the end. I was instructed to clearly put the most important information at the beginning and to keep the email concise and short.
During my last trip to the UK, I hired a car at the airport.
Whilst I was waiting in the car hire showroom, the assistants began to make conversation with me.
They asked me how my flight was, where I was travelling, whether I was on a business journey or meeting family, and so on. They were trying to show friendliness, be positive and put me in a good mood. However, both sides knew that we were not trying to develop a friendship. We were both aware that the interaction was a superficial one. We were being friendly to each other, but we weren’t creating a friendship.