How to ruin a first impression in 5 easy steps…..without even knowing!

Hey dear,

Thank you for your birthday wishes, I had a wonderful 51st birthday!! Many of you generously donated to my new Educational Foundation, the B.DEAL FOUNDATION. I cannot thank you enough for making a difference in the lives of children on Bali. Thank you so much! (And of course you can still contribute anytime!)

I loved doing my FREE HUGS on Saturday – if I hugged you, thanks for giving me a hug! You can see a few pics of my memorable day here.

Ok, now let me cut to the chase.

Guess what?
People are busy.
People get distracted.
People don’t have time to figure out what you mean.

You only get one shot to get it right,

So, let’s say you write a mail to a potential client – this person could be very important for your work, and you’d like to set up a call to find out more.

And you write this:

Hi Sheila,

Can you please let me know if you we can set up a call next week? I have sent you a request a few days ago but you didn’t respond yet. Thanks!

Greetings, (your name)

Do you know what you just did?
You got pretty rude pretty fast.
And you don’t even know it.

This is the deal.

1. In English, we often start with ‘framing’ our message, and open mails with an icebreaker or a thank you. So you’re already off on the wrong foot.

Starting with something like ‘I hope this finds you well’, ‘Thanks for your mail’, ‘How are things on your end’ are some general ones that are used often.

2. If you start an initial contact with ‘Can’, this is the most informal way of making a request in English. This might not strike the right tone for someone who expects a more formal attitude. Using ‘would’ or ‘could’ is often better. Then, after you have built up a professional connection, you can ease down to ‘can’.

3. Putting ‘please’ before the verb often creates a sense of urgency or expresses frustration or irritation. Not a great way to sound when you’re dealing with an important new contact.

4. And….if you use the word ‘ago’, you cannot use the Present Perfect (have done, has seen, etc). You need to use the Past Simple (did, saw, etc). This confuses the reader and gets in the way of efficient and effective communication.

5. Guess what? English people don’t speak Dutch (unless they are crazy, like me ;). We don’t know that ‘Greetings’ is the English version of ‘Groetjes’. We only see it in an English context, and that doesn’t ‘t work. Unless you are an alien.

No one has time to figure it out. Of course they might still understand you, but just getting understood is not enough. You want to connect with people in a professional way, and not let small mistakes distract from your message. And this short mail which you just sent off had 5 communication pitfalls in it. That’s a LOT! (And you probably didn’t even know.)

Let’s try again…..

‘Hi Sheila,

I hope you’re doing well. I can imagine things must be pretty busy on your end, so perhaps you missed my previous mail from a couple of weeks ago. I’d like to know if we could set up a call next week to have a brief chat about your services. Could you let me know what day or time would suit you best? I’d really appreciate it.

Many thanks!
Best, (your name)

Same message.
Better packaging.
Much better!

And these days, when people have the attention span of a goldfish, packaging is everything!

If you would like to work more intensively on packaging your message and improving your English communication skills, both in speaking and writing, I’m happy to invite you to my new English coaching program, Great in 8. You’ll get personal coaching calls, weekly feedback, challenges and goals every week which will make you full of confidence and ready to take on the world in English! There are just a couple of spaces left, so hit me back with GREAT and I’ll get in touch with you soon!

Thanks so much for reading, as always, and I hope you have a wonderful week!

X buffi

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