You are a special snowflake. Don’t let that disappear when it comes to writing emails!

A duotoned dark purple and beige version of the Apple 'ink pen' emoji, in front of a blue circle

I spent the early years of my career learning the rules of communication in the workplace and emulating other people’s language, thinking that ‘fitting in’ was the pathway to ‘doing well’. I thought if I talked like everyone else, they would understand me and things will go smoothly. As a member of Generation Y, much of this was email writing; it was “Dear [person]” and “Kind regards”.

Fast forward to 2019: I am on a mission to un-learn these things. I had no idea they were so deeply hard-wired but I kept noticing my default email writing voice sounding like a robot and thought it would be much better if it sounded like a human. Better yet, if I could sound like me. This was around the time Gmail started giving me auto-completion suggestions, which I took as a challenge to say literally anything else! (I’ve since turned the Smart Compose feature off.)

Engaging communication comes from being yourself, talking like a human, and flavouring your writing with plenty of real things (yes, nouns!). Tell me, which of these sentences is more appealing:

  • I’m inspired to write something in the hopes that it will help others.
  • I’m sitting quietly in my backyard tapping on the laptop keyboard, musing over what I’ve learned so I can share it on my blog.

They’re both accurate, it’s just that one has teeth and the other does not! (Penny Modra taught me about writing with teeth and hot damn if you live in Melbourne and have a spare 300 bucks I highly recommend the Write Right half day course for many other tips on levelling up your writing skillz. Adding a ‘z’ at the end of a word doesn’t count.)

I’ve definitely softened since the ‘Kind regards’ days but won’t allow myself to get complacent: I query every email for boring language before hitting send. Now I challenge you to read your next email aloud and see if it sounds like you. If not, consider seasoning it with some new word choices.

Best wishes on this sunny Sunday,