Preparing an email is something we should all take special care with – especially when the email is for somebody you may not know very well. The pressures of everyday working life stacked with a hectic office environment can make this a real challenge.
There is no such thing as “overthinking” the preparation of an email. Having a strategic approach is imperative in order to garner the attention of your recipient. The beginning of your interaction sets the tone and can shape the recipient’s judgment of you. With this in mind, it may also determine the fate of your dealings with this person. So in essence, the sky is the limit with regards to thinking about your approach.
If the email you send is of particular importance, perhaps get to know the recipients online persona. This will give you an idea of your recipients character – how he/she responds to topical posts, the content they upload or their personal interests. Is this creepy? Nah… This person has created an online presence and as long as they are publicly publishing content, it is intended for all to see!
Once you feel that you have a good measure of the person’s character, the tone of the email should be tuned to their personality. A good point of reference would be the DISC matrix by William Moulton Marston. (ref image 1)
Once you feel that you have a decent grasp of the person’s disposition, try and apply it to the matrix.
People within the Dominance quadrant tend to be direct and decisive, generally described as a dominant person. They have very little time for small talk and simply want you to lay down the facts. The D style is also quite competitive and always want to come out on top, so keep them feeling in control of the situation. A D style would appreciate an email that is formal, so when greeting the recipient open with “Dear” or “Good Day”. The approach should be direct and straight to the point, they simply have no time to be entertained so be crystal clear with your email and spare the BS!
The Influence personality would be described as fun, outgoing and not afraid to be the center of attention. They are enthusiastic, optimistic, talkative, persuasive, impulsive and emotional. The I persona has faith in humanity, they have trust in others and only try to see the best in people. The style of email this persona appreciates is one with a bit of personality, open with phrases like “Hey” or “What’s up!” Approach the recipient in a casual manner but get your point across at the same time. Keep the context of your email fun and bubbly, unlike the D persona, people with an I persona like to be entertained so this style of this email should be almost like a conversation.
The Steady personality is known to be level headed, stable and predictable. The S personality is warm by nature, friendly to others and very generous with people who are close to them. In an email – sincerity is the key to gaining the S personas attention. They prefer close personal relationships so garnering their trust is essential. Opening your email with a “Hi” or “Dear” followed by “How are you?” or “Hope you are well” would be greatly appreciated by an S. Get your point across in a friendly mannerly way that isn’t too bubbly nor too cold, gaining trust is the key.
Finally the Conscientious quadrant of the DISC. The C style tends to be accurate, precise, detail-oriented, and quite thorough. The thought process of a C style would be analytic and systematic. A C would make well thought out decisions based on reliable research and hard facts, they tend not to make decisions based on intuition. With this, comprehensive preparation is essential with your approach to a C style via email. Open your email formally and lay out a well structured message with fine detail, leave no stone unturned. Like the D style, you need to make an impressive first impression, otherwise it will be the last impression you make!