By Paola Pascual on Oct 26, 2020 1:59:05 PM
This year’s pandemic has impacted our lives in ways none of us would have predicted. With it, communication patterns have switched and the usual formalities had to be reassessed. In a way, one could argue that social interactions have become more human, and we started worrying about other people’s situation, health, and wellbeing. However, does “Stay safe” actually reflect the warmth you want to convey?
It is difficult to know how to phrase our emails during this time. We are all trying to find the right balance between acknowledging the current situation and not going over the top with health and safety comments. We want to show understanding, but we also want to sound upbeat. And the last thing we want is to sound tone-deaf. We are getting fatigued by COVID-related topics, and although it is still a huge part of our present, some people do not want to chit chat around this topic anymore.
We see that “Hope you had a great weekend” has turned into “Hope you’re doing OK,” and “Stay safe” has replaced “Cheers!” in today’s emails. Back in March, a Yale Law student tweeted “Emails now be like: I hope you are staying safe, sheltered in place, stocked with toilet paper, and healthy during these absolutely unprecedented, wild, chaotic, terrifying times. Just wanted to follow up—.” Is this necessary?
While it is undeniably hard to strike the right balance in your emails this year, we want to share our advice to send genuine, professional emails during the pandemic.
#1 Remember you’re emailing another human being
Remember you’re emailing another human being, someone whose life might have been critically affected by the pandemic. You cannot send genuine emails by only making self-centered comments about how your company is thriving and helping many people around the world.
You do not need to apologize for these extraordinary times. You just need to be warm and make it about them, express gratitude (“I appreciate your getting back to me”), and be mindful of the potentially difficult situation that the other person could be going through.
And very importantly, ask people how they are doing. And mean it. Not only to friends, but also to customers and colleagues. Then actively listen to what they have to say.
#2 Be transparent and honest
One of the pillar tips we give in our free guide How to Write Professional Emails is to clearly state the purpose of the email (why are you writing?) and what you would like to happen next (what’s the call to action?). This piece of advice remains relevant these days.
Being transparent means not hiding a sales pitch behind generic well-wishes. It means revealing the real point of your email and doing so with honesty. Do not use the COVID-19 pandemic to talk about your business (unless the body of your email is directly related to it), and avoid sensationalism to capture the attention of the reader (avoid phrases like “Did you know that…?”)
#3 Look for ways to provide genuine help
To sound genuine in your emails, focus on helping rather than selling. Offer resources or just a friendly chat (this also strengthens point #1), and if you want to talk about your company, mention how you are helping your clients, give them some sort of gift or resources, like a free webinar or an online training session (“We hope that this small gesture supports you during this time.”)
#4 Keep your emails short
Keeping your emails short is one of the most relevant rules for emailing in 2020. We are busy and our attention is highly precious - it was before the pandemic, and it is even more so now (with our kids stealing the spotlight in virtual meetings and us juggling work with personal life).
Don’t send unnecessarily long emails. Make your point and sign off. This way, you show respect for the other person’s time, and it is ultimately more efficient communication (also for you!). If you are not sure how to shorten your emails, our communication expert teachers can help you write effective emails and communicate effectively in English. Request more information here.
#5 Adjust your greetings and sign-offs
Many people have embraced some version of “Stay safe” or “Be well” or “Take care.” And I have also even seen the double version “Stay safe and warm regards.” These are arguable safe bets, and at least they avoid hyper-generic well-wishes, like the overused phrases “We’re here for you,” “We’re in this together,” “We value our customers,” or “Hang in there, better days are coming.” Plus, they do acknowledge the situation, which is a positive thing.
Athough many of us use the sign-off “Stay Safe,” for some people this expression can induce anxiety, especially if family is mentioned.
So, what other phrases are acceptable, genuine options for your emails during the pandemic? This will heavily depend on who you’re writing to. If you know them very well and you communicate with them on a regular basis, you might want to skip pandemic-related comments and focus on the (new) normal daily tasks.
Sending “Virtual hugs” might not be professional enough to use with customers, but it can be a sweet way to connect with your contacts over email, especially if you have met them before (at least virtually).
You can also give them some small honest insight into your current situation, and instead of writing “I know this is probably a bad time”, you could write something along the lines of “I am working from home for the first time, with my 3-year-old son running around the house and becoming the star of some of my work meetings. Guessing you can probably relate.”
Some professionals believe that ending an email with “All the best,” “Regards,” or “I hope you had a great weekend” might seem too detached right now, but I personally think they add some sense of normality to this unusual year, and I keep using these 150+ email phrases.
Here are other nice phrases to send to your customers:
- Here are some resources I found recently that have helped me stay sane while working from home...
- If you’re struggling with [problem], I’d love to hop on a quick chat and share some ideas I’ve gathered from other [job title] in your industry.
- To support your business during this time, we’re offering...
#6 Stay positive - but be careful with humor
Yes, these are hard times, but there’s always room for a thin silver lining. Accentuate the positive and avoid negative words like “I can’t” or “I’m not sure”.
However, only use humor when you are 100% certain that it will be understood and welcomed by your reader. Stay away from it unless you know them very well. Some websites recommend using funny sign-offs like “Have a great socially distant day,” “Yours from afar,” or “Sent from my living room.” While these can actually be funny, I would actually advise against them, as you never know how these things will land.
Quick reminder - We can help you write professional emails in English that resonate with your readers and sound genuine. If you would like to know more about our online training, get in touch and we will create a program just for you.
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For any additional information or questions, you can also reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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