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One Word to Make You Instantly More Likeable

one word likeable

I often hear people complain about their tone getting “lost in translation” in their email and text communication with clients. Everyone has experienced this at one time or another. The sharpest of wordsmiths and most seasoned of professional writers surely have someone take what they type the wrong way from time to time.

Maybe the children of the next generation will figure out a way to get it right every time. The rest of us, however, haven’t yet fully bridged the gap of technology and the spoken word. They are polar opposites when you think about it – but there’s no sense in philosophizing the reasons why, we just need to accept that it’s a fact.

It’s simple statistics really. With the average business person sending and receiving 121 emails per day, there’s bound to be some times when your tone doesn’t come across the way you intended. You might be typing it fast, maybe even dictating it into your smartphone as you drive or catch a quick bite to eat. You might have a client yelling at you over the phone while you type a reply to someone else. You might have written an eloquent email but skipped a crucial word in sentence. Who knows really? Either way, readers hear something different than what you meant to say from time to time.

More often than not, the complaint in tone is that you were harsh, rude or short right? I hardly hear folks complain that I was too nice or explained things too well. Nope, it’s always one or all of those others. Sure folks can be a little too sensitive, but it’s important that everyone that comes across your brand feel welcomed and appreciated at all times. That’s why my little trick is so crucial.

There’s one way I’ve found to make sure my emails always come across pleasantly. It’s one simple word, and it works every single time. It’s the word “hi”.

It comes right before their name, which you should never ever skip no matter how much of a rush you’re in to plow through your inbox (remember, a person’s name is the sweetest word they’ll ever read or hear and they’ll never get tired of it). That little two-letter word, “hi”, sets the tone for the rest of the email. Without it, you risk coming off as a jerk. With it, you’ll forever be the nice guy or gal. That one syllable will change your brand, I promise. It’s so short it seems insignificant, but I can guarantee you it’s not.

So why is it so powerful? Because it’s an impersonal world. Half the emails I get don’t even have my name at the top. It’s also a cold world. Rarely do people exchange pleasantries, and that’s what hi is…pleasant to hear.

My challenge to you: try using the word “hi” and the person’s name at the top of every email you send this week. If you get one complaint that your email was rude I’ll gladly take this post down. But I have a strong feeling this post will be up for a good long time to come.

2 responses to “One Word to Make You Instantly More Likeable”

  1. Xavier Mercier says:

    Hi Gabriel,
    Hi fellow readers,

    Thank you so much, Gabriel, for reminding us of how essential this personalised introductory greeting is!

    Besides the benefits you already mentioned, I can think of two others for us, the readers of your post:

    1) Typing “Hi” has good odds to improve our mood straight away, as this standalone greeting is generally perceived as a cheerful and inviting word. That makes us more open and confident in the way we’ll handle the details of the correspondence.

    2) Typing a person’s first name immediately after the greeting increases our sense of proximity with our email’s recipient and thereby encourages us to focus straight away on what matters to them. Hence, we’re suddenly in a better position to write more effective and relevant content.

    Since my days in college, I’ve always made a point of starting all my online correspondence that way, regardless of whether I’m emailing/texting a peer, customer, business/romantic partner, relative or buddy. I’ve always done it naturally, because it’s an easy way to show respect, care and/or friendliness, and also because that’s the way I’d like to be treated in return 🙂

    Sadly, in an age where we’re drowning deeper and deeper into an ocean of information, distractions, stress and real or false priorities, basic rules of online courtesy are often the first to be jettisoned to the abyss as dead weight, waste of time.

    In recent years, I have been the recipient of many impersonal emails/texts both as a colleague and especially as a prospect. That made me feel so taken for granted… 🙁 How do I resolve the problem? Well, I have always given my attention in priority to the colleague or the competition that made at least a basic effort to win me over with a couple of well chosen words of courtesy.

    So… I do think this post’s topic is indeed more relevant than ever today.

    Yes, as Gabriel recommended, let’s start all our personal or professional emails with a sincere, personalised greeting. I suggest we go even a bit further by genuinely enquiring about something that matters to the person we’re addressing. That’s a good first step to keep our colleagues (or friends!) loyal and our potential customers intrigued.

    Cheers 🙂

  2. Scott Keyser says:

    Thanks, Gabriel. Another great way of checking your tone of voice is ROL: Read your writing Out Loud. It slows you down and forces you to say every word. You’ll hear how your writing will sound to your reader. Every professional writer does ROL…and so should you.

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