4 ways to manage the tone of your email

“Can I get those documents by 5:00 PM today?”

If spoken with a smile, perhaps this question would elicit a “yes, sure” answer.

However, if included in an email, anything can happen.

If your reader is having a good day, she may respond, “Of course, never mind!”

But if she’s feeling stressed or overwhelmed, or if you’ve had stressful conversations in the past, she may react badly. He might think you’re demanding, harsh, or cold.

That’s the problem with email tone: it largely resides in the reader’s mind. Yet we as writers need to make sure that our readers see our emails as friendly and upbeat.

Why is it so important to manage our email tone? Think about a time you received an email whose tone you interpreted as cold, angry, or rude. When you read that email, how did you feel about the person who sent it? Did the tone make you more likely to accept the person’s message or be more resistant to it?

Maintaining a friendly email tone is essential because it determines whether our reader’s mind will be open to receiving our message or slammed for opposing us. In other words, the wrong tone spoils our messages and reduces our effectiveness as communicators.

To more effectively manage your email tone, try these three tools:

1. Re-read and imagine your reader.

Think about a time you wrote an email that offended your reader. Were you surprised by their reaction? Maybe not. If you had read your email again and imagined your reader was reading it, you would have known to revise. So take some time to review your email before sending it. Imagine that your reader is assimilating your message. How do they feel?

2. Smile while writing.

research It shows that smiling improves your mood. (It also makes you look younger and slimmer!) If you keep your mouth relaxed in a slight smile, you won’t be writing a crappy email.

Also, don’t be too happy. In a business email, avoid too many exclamation marks, textism like OMG, excessive emoji, and any other text or punctuation that appears sacrosanct to you. Your good energy must be real.

3. Greetings to the friendly reader.

A short introductory phrase such as “Hope you are enjoying the season,” or “Welcome back from your vacation,” signals to the reader that you see them as a human being, not some utilitarian party. You’re not going to win a Pulitzer for this early gamble, but it doesn’t matter. Break the ice with just a human comment.

4. Close with appreciation.

Let’s face it: We all like to be appreciated. This is why emails that contain a thank you are more likely to respond to it than those that normally close with “Sincerely.” Grammer Listed different ways to say “thank you,” including “thank you for your help,” “thank you for your idea,” or, to have a more powerful impact on your reader, “thank you for the effort you put in.” “Included. Streamline today’s program.” The more specific you are with your thank you, the more authentic you’ll come across.

Your tone sets the context for your communication. If the tone is pleasant, the material will seem more favorable. If the tone is harsh, you’ve beaten yourself. So imagine your reader as you revise, opening and closing as humanly as possible, and keep smiling.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.