Ahhh, communication. There are so many directions I could go with this post. I have my pet peeves like everyone and I am sure I make my fair share of mistakes so, I apologize to my Mom and all of my English teachers out there but, I digress. This isn’t a grammar lecture!
My thoughts today are on how to be warm and friendly without being too friendly before you’ve gotten to know someone. Or the opposite, being too stiff and formal even after you’ve gotten to know someone. The tone of communication is important and in today’s environment of social media communication, email included, there are blurred lines or at least the perception of blurred lines.
I’ve had 2 recent experiences on both sides of this coin. The first in response to a message I sent a potential candidate for a search we are conducting. When I first received this, I couldn’t decide if I should respond and if I did, how to respond. It read like this, “you are giving me everything, hunnie…” Was this a joke? What did it mean? So, being curious I messaged back to make sure this person didn’t accidentally respond to me rather than a BFF. Nope, it was meant to for me. The second response was almost as odd as the first. First and second impression, well, hmmmm.
The second experience is with someone I met in person and thought I had gotten to know. Most times when I received an email from, they started with: “Dear Ann.” Now, I don’t know about you, but I find this really odd. In a cover letter with a resume attached to an unknown person, I have no issue with Dear so and so. Once you’ve gotten to meet someone and have gotten past the formalities, “Hi Ann” or “Hello Ann” or just “Ann” would be great. When I receive a “Dear Ann” email, it’s very stiff, unfriendly and formal. It simply doesn’t feel right.
My advice is to avoid being overly familiar or casual with someone you don’t know. It’s a gray area and if you’re not sure, ask someone to read your email before you send it. Err on the side of being professional and with complete sentences. And, on the flip side, just don’t do “Dear Ann” if we’ve met, had a conversation or exchanged an email or two.