For my regular readers you know that my posts are inspired by my own e-mail experiences. Very often I find myself in a communication thread that I know is probably something you would run into. So the thread goes into my “Share with Net [email protected]” folder.
“You Attract More Bees with Honey”
I received an e-mail the other day from a potential client that included several very demanding comments about how, if they chose to work with me, they would expect me to run my business. After reading the e-mail I actually said “Wow” out loud. Clearly this person had some bad experiences in the past with others they chose to work with and got burned. That was now being passed on to me to compensate for.
No big deal. I’ve ended up partnering with many a leery client whose confidence and trust had been damaged with those before me. I don’t take it personally because it’s not about me.
But think about it. What type of impression do you think this approach will have? Any consultant worth their salt would run in the opposite direction of a potential client that approached them in this manner.
When I am approached in that manner, I’ll think twice about whether I can form a mutually respectful partnership. I do not read anything into e-mails like this, I take them at their face value based on the choice of words used. I will always respond with professionalism and grace — leaving their next communication to confirm if it is worth either of our time to continue on. I do my best to not assume that they are the jerk that their e-mail may imply.
I answered each comment point by point, by down-editing — factually and unemotionally. Including declining to lower my rate to compensate for money already spent (wasted) with others. With a professionally stern tone.
Their response? “Didn’t mean to insult…” That’s not what I meant…” “I didn’t intend to hurt your feelings.” My “feelings” were not hurt nor did I say so. I simply stated I was disappointed that they felt the need to communicate with me, someone they did not know or had never worked with, in the manner that they did.
You Type It; You Mean It
Their response ended with “It was not meant to be personal, so please do not take it that way.” But that is what and how they typed — to me. This communication style let me know that this was an individual that most likely would not respect what I could bring to his project.
Have you communicated with people who just type what they want without taking a moment to review if their questions/challenges are apropos or even accurate? If not, you are lucky!
Although it may be tough, always try to give them the benefit of the doubt by replying with grace. Many folk still do not realize how terse or demanding their e-mails are perceived. This provides the opportunity for them to clarify their tone.
With that said “It was not meant” or “didn’t mean to” doesn’t fly if you type it! If you find yourself starting to type “I didn’t mean it…” also humbly apologize and clear the air. Don’t make excuses — own it.
In this case, this potential client was playing “boss” with me. If they would have taken a moment to review my site(s), bio or information, they certainly would not have sent the e-mail they did. But then again, maybe this particular e-bully would have…
You Know What Happens When You Assume?
Don’t expect the other side to know what you meant or what you mean. Choose the appropriate words and read your e-mail out loud before clicking Send to makes sure your tone is clear.
The moral of the story? You are what you type; you are the words you choose to use. Know that what you type will be taken at it’s face value by the other side.
You take your time, you choose your words carefully so as to relay your concerns while you make darned sure that what you type is what you mean because that is exactly how it will be taken.
And, if you don’t want to make that effort, don’t be surprised when the response you receive is not what you desired — that is if you get one at all.