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Rethinking the Details of E-Mail Communication

Source | | Lin Grensing-Pophal

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:

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