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Tone up your e-mail using three C’s

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Every e-mail you send sets a tone. So if you’ve been distant or cut-and-dry in past messages, it’s tough to change the reader’s impression of you with a single note. Bottom line: Set a cooperative, cordial tone in every letter or e-mail you write. To do so, keep in mind the three C’s:

1. Open with a cordial greeting using 10 words or less. A cordial greeting might be “Thanks for sending that report so quickly,” or “I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas about this.” If you can’t come up with something genuine, skip it. An awkward or insincere greeting will only train others to skim over your first sentence.

2. Make sure to couch any negative comments between buffers. Example: You work with another admin to compile a regular departmental report. But her work typically contains errors, so you’ve decided to say something to her about it.

Start your message this way: “I really appreciate your effort to turn in outstanding work. In the most recent sales report, though, I found three errors. I’d be happy to make myself available to you this week to help you eliminate errors in the next report.”

3. Keep your tone cooperative and helpful, rather than impersonal.

Impersonal tone: “Attendees must be prepared for the meeting. Please study this report in depth beforehand. Thank you.”

Cooperative tone: “We’ll allow time to discuss the report at the next meeting so you can share your reactions and offer suggestions. Come ready to share your insights, so we can hear from everyone.”

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