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Building E-mail Rapport

January 21, 2000
Related Topics: Featured Article
In conventional communication, 55 percent of what we learn or perceive from other people comes from their body language; 38 percent comes from the tone of their voice, and only seven percent is derived from their actual words. But in the age of e-mail, these visual and aural nuances are no longer available. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you’re conveying the right message in electronic communication.

Here are the skills you need to send the right tone and meaning in your messages, improve customer service, and improve your professional reputation online:

  1. Backtrack key words and phrases. Try repeating some of the more important words and phrases the sender used. For example, if the sender says, "I feel strongly about this matter," you can acknowledge in your reply that you, too, "feel strongly" about it.
  2. Use sensory language. Research shows that most people naturally use words that relate to their senses of seeing (focus, illuminate, look, see), hearing (sound, tell, quiet, listen) and feeling (impact, touch, grasp, solid). The same is true in business communication. By using the same type of sensory language as the person you are communicating with, you add a dynamic, compelling and rapport-building quality to the messages you send.
  3. Compose G.R.E.A.T. emails. Read each email you compose to see if it passes the G.R.E.A.T. test:
    Goal: Have I specified the e-mail’s purpose?
    Relevant Facts: Have I provided enough information?
    Emotional Tone: What mood have I set for this e-mail?
    Action: Have I made a specific request?
    Time: Have I requested a timeframe for reply?
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