Learning & Development

Rethinking the Details of E-Mail Communication

With millions of Americans working remotely, there are much fewer nonverbal social cues that come from in-person interaction. While the sophistication of modern telecommunications technology has been a saving grace in the midst of widespread remote work, it is not, at least at present, a perfect substitute. This means it’s more important than ever to ensure that communication via other media is as clear, concise, and appropriate as possible.


Say ‘Thank You,’ But Be Specific!

E-mail is a great example. So much of the communication that had once been conducted by yelling over the cubicle wall or walking down the hallway to a colleague’s office is now handled via e-mail. But it’s a mistake to assume that the old rules of e-mail communication fit perfectly into the new reality of widespread remote work.

Some would argue that those old rules were in need of a revamp even before the shift to remote work, right down to the seemingly obligatory “thank you” at the end of virtually all e-mails—even the confrontational ones! The argument goes that this automatic “thank you” comes across as meaningless at best and insincere at worst. “I find that when I take the time to be more specific about what I’m thankful for, I not only get a better response from a client or colleague, I build a better relationship with them,” writes Ken Sterling in an article for Inc.

Some Examples

Sterling suggests swapping a generic “thank you” with something more precise and personalized. He gives several examples to illustrate his point:

  • “Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to be of service.”
  • “Thanks again for all your collaboration on this with us. We understand it’s a distraction from your regular work and there are a lot of moving parts.”
  • “Mike, we appreciate your partnership and take our commitment very seriously to bringing you the best solutions for ABC, Co. We understand there is a lot at stake, and our aim is to continue earning your trust.”

Revamping the salutation on e-mails might seem minor and nitpicky, but it’s a great example of how people are looking for ways to revisit old communication habits in light of new circumstances. When striving to make communication as efficient and effective as possible, it doesn’t hurt to pay attention to the little things.