I'm about to give you some *very* convincing reasons not to overlook the importance of HOW you say something
It’s Friday afternoon. (Conveniently, it actually IS as I’m writing this. Small world.)
There’s a task lingering over your head that you really need to do before you shut it down for the freakin’ weekend. It’s just sending an email.
Should be simple, right?
Except…you’ve been putting that email off since Monday morning when you realized your client cancelled their appointment without giving 24-hour notice, as stipulated in your contract but of course, or even giving you a heads up that their schedule had changed unexpectedly.
You know you need to remind them of your cancellation policy and fees. You know you need to reschedule. And you know you need to get the edits you were supposed to discuss so you don’t fall any further behind on the project.
But you don’t know HOW to say all that. You’re afraid you’re going to come off as too dismissive (like, oh no, it’s cool, last-minute cancellations happen allll the time) or too bitchy (WTF is up with the cancelling?! Pay me the cancellation fee ASAP or we can’t keep working together. I’m not playing.)
Yep, my friend, that’s entirely possible. Here’s HOW you’re saying WHAT you’re saying is messing up your message.
When you’re: too polite
You look: like a door mat (a super cute one but one that people still traipse all over)
Is your mail laced with too many mollifications and questions? Things like:
If you don’t mind
If it’s not too much trouble
I did not mean to suggest
If it’s all right with you
Please forgive me for
If it pleases the court
Okay, scratch that last one…
While there’s nothing wrong with being polite and having manners, you can totally swing too far into Emily Post territory. When that happens, your client is going to think they can treat you like their own personal boot scraper because you’ll be too proper to speak up.
It’s absolutely fine to say please and thank you (and I should tell you that you should, lest the ghost of Ms. Post displace my current household bogie, Mr. Business), but keep it to a minimum.
If everyone sentence has some sort of placating tone or gratitude in it, you’ve gone too far.
When you’re: too hard
You look: like a domineering poo pianist who’s difficult to work with
At the end of the day, whether we like to admit it or not, we work for our clients. Sure, we run our own businesses, but our clients are paying us for a service.
As such (ooo, there’s that ghost), it’s best to steer clear of anything that could be misconstrued as merciless.
You want to be professional, you want to make your point, but you don’t want to sound like you’re some gangster with high pants, a fedora, and a little friend with your client’s name on it.
When you start getting all pushy and overbearing, you become the nightmare – not your client.
Most people don’t respond well to being scolded or yelled at so dial back the anger a bit (or wait a day or two before you send an email fraught with emotion). And maybe throw a placating turn of phrase or two in there. Just for good measure.
When you’re: too funny
You look: like you don’t have an actual point
Come on, admit it: You’re surprised this one’s here. Am I right? I’m right. It’s okay to tell me I’m right. I won’t hold it against you.
Yes, I do love my fun and my funnies and my jokes and humor. And I’m all for making every touch point with a client a fun experience filled with laughs or chuckles or snickers or chortles or guffaws. Even giggles. I’ll take giggles, too.
But when there’s too much emphasis on being funny and the jokes are flying faster than an Aroldis Chapman fastball (that would be 105.1 mph – thanks, Google!), your message could get lost.
Your client might be so busy laughing they miss, through their tear-filled eyes, that you were actually asking for something.
Open with a joke. Close with a funny sign-off. Infuse some humor into the email. But don’t overload every sentence like it’s the only stand-up routine you’ll ever give. (It could be, but you don’t *know* that.)
And if you really can’t pass up a good pun, consider bolding your request or main point so it stands out and your client will have a harder time overlooking it.
When you’re: too formal
You look like: one of those Nigerian prince scam letters
Okay, fine, you look like you’ve got something to hide. I don’t know what it is. You probably don’t even know what it is.
But that’s how it comes across when you’re all sir and ma’am and capital letters everywhere and extremely proper grammar and punctuation.
Your client’s probably reading that email really closely (if it even made it past the spam filter) wondering what they’re missing and trying to read between the lines. It sure looks like it came from your email address, but, gee willikers, what are you really getting at?!?
Much like the Nigerian prince is really trying to get at your credit card info so he can rob you of all your money and your dignity.
You know what else happens when you’re too formal in that email you’re about to send? You don’t look real, relatable, or human. And that’s NEVER a good thing when you’re dealing with a client.
When you’re: too straightforward
You look like: you’re heartless (like Kanye, I wanna know…how could you be so heartless???)
Yes, you are a business owner.
Yes, you have a right to get paid.
Yes, you most certainly are the baddest bitch in all the land.
But sometimes – hear me out, hear me out – being too direct makes you look like the ol’ maker forget to give you a heart. You didn’t even get a mini heart – you just got completely passed over and there’s just a hollow sea shell in your chest where that blood pumper should really be.
You look like you eat kittens for breakfast, snack on otters, and end your day with a dessert of puppy a la baby seal.
Words like cold, conniving, ruthless might come to mind.
No, no, you and I know that’s not true. But when you’re all business (i.e., Hey, You didn’t pay me. – Kimmie), there’s a lot to be desired.
Namely, empathy, sympathy, kindness, understanding…
There’s totally a way to be to the point without being harsh. (For starters, use your client’s name! And maybe stop writing emails like you’ve only got 140 characters…)
Another fabulous way? Templates with Personality! Sometimes, you know what you want to say, but you don’t know the best way to say it. With the eight templates in this guide, you’ll see how to balance being friendly with direct and never not send an email again just because you were afraid it would sound wrong. Grab your copy right this way.