When responding to emails, show you care. (Dina Lima 1:1)
Before I am a professional, I am a Mom.
Mothers care. We pay attention to details. We read between the lines. We go by “gut feelings” that most of the time prove us right. And more than that, we sense the spirit and attitude behind words, actions, and smiles. It’s a God-given gift, an intuition, our own built-in emotional GPS that signals “This feels right” or “Something doesn’t feel right.”
Whether professionally or as a parent, I’ve noticed that people, in general, lack heart when responding to emails.
What do I mean “lack heart”?
- Lack of love and care in listening to the other person’s pain or problem
- Lack of acknowledgment of the other person’s concern
- Lack of understanding the other person’s need
- Lack of providing a viable solution, however minor it may be
- Lack of tactfulness when hearing their concern without you trying to prove yourself, justify your actions, and while doing so, shove your justification in the other person’s face
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.Proverbs 25:11
Have I failed at responding properly at times? Absolutely. And I’ve learned from my mistakes. I’ve taken those experiences and added them to my toolbox to do a better job the next time; especially treating my family better. What good is it if I treat everyone else better than my own spouse and children?
I’ve experienced a lack of tactfulness in email responses, some of which were plain hurtful and left me feeling unheard, misunderstood, or worse, reprimanded, belittled, or brushed off.
I agree with Maya Angelou’s philosophy:
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
I paid attention to how those emails made me feel and came up with a solution to ensure that I don’t hurt others, whether it be in professional or personal communication.
Here’s the secret formula I developed to ensure I am helpful, tactful and make the other person feel they’re heard.
The Three A’s Response
- Acknowledge – let the other person feel their concern matters to you.
- Address the problem – provide some type of solution however minor it is; don’t justify.
- Allow the other person to feel an open door – state that you welcome further discussion.
Example #1: For Anyone
“Dear [Name or Mr./Mrs. X],
Thank you so much for your email. I/We understand your concern [about whatever it is] and desire to provide all our [employees, students, etc.] a pleasurable experience. Given the [current challenges, situation, whatever the heck it is], we have [employed certain guidelines or whatever changes you’ve done] to [improve, enhance, whatever it is]. In response to your request, [this is the solution we have come up with]. We hope this mitigates the [inconvenience or whatever] it has caused you. Please call me if you have any further questions.”
Make the other person feel heard and understood, provide some kind of solution however small it may be, and leave an open door for continued communication.
When it is something very important, I pick up the phone and make a call. A candid conversation can clear up confusion, assumptions, and mend the whole situation peacefully.
It is vital to make others feel important.
Especially our loved ones and the more vulnerable — children and elderly.
Example #2: For Professionals
Whenever I submit offers for home purchases, I spend a lot of time drafting the email. Many times the other agent’s reply is “Received.” That’s it.
If that’s not cold and unprofessional, then I don’t know what is. There is a better way to respond.
Think about it, the showing agent has taken the time and effort to show the property to the buyers, researched and gathered all pertinent data, helped the buyers sift through so many deciding factors to put in an offer, and out of hundreds of other houses, the buyer selected that particular home. All this effort deserves acknowledgment and honor.
A better response to the offer submitted would make the experience more positive. It’s super easy to stand out in this industry when it comes to relating with people relationally with heart and soul.
I use the same “Three A’s response” for my listings.
A better response would be:
Thank you so much for showing this very nice home to your clients and for submitting an offer. I will forward it to the seller and get back with you with their decision. I hope we can work together and make it a win-win for both our clients. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call me.”
Now isn’t that much better! I long for the day when I can experience more of this!
I believe in the law of sowing and reaping. Therefore, I will keep sowing and keep expecting to reap good fruit in this area.
4 Tips When Responding to Emails
- Don’t respond in anger – cool off, byte a pencil, walk away, grab some coffee, get some chocolate, vent with a trusted friend or by journaling, if you can wait 24 hours to reply that’s even better.
- Don’t bury your emotions – don’t make the mistake of burying your emotions and hope they will go away. When you bury the emotions you bury them alive. They are a time bomb. So it’s best to let your emotions out of your system so that they do not impair you emotionally.
- Follow the Three A’s model – Acknowledge the sender, Address the problem and provide some type of solution however minor it may be, and Allow the other person to feel they can continue the conversation with you.
- Show you care – it is the secret ingredient to all personal and professional relationships. Words or phrases that help the other person “feel” you care include: I understand you; I feel your frustration; I’ve got your back; I’m here to help.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver.
Oh, how true it is!