You’re not neutral; your tone creeps in.
Compare these options in your email reply-to handle:
- “Rowan the Big Kahuna <firstname.lastname@example.org>”
- “Rowan <email@example.com>”
- “Rowan Hardin Price <firstname.lastname@example.org”
If reply-to handles have lots of your personality, so do email greetings:
- Hey Kate
- Hi Kate!
One school of thought: “be yourself”. Communicate how you always do.
But some of us just aren’t wired that way. And we can all over-ride our wiring in small ways.
Consider the “Big Five Personality Traits”:
- Neuroticism or Emotional Stability (sensitive/nervous vs. resilient/confident)
- Extraversion (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved)
- Openness to experience (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious)
- Conscientiousness (efficient/organized vs. extravagant/careless)
- Agreeableness (friendly/compassionate vs. challenging/callous)
If you are sensitive, inventive, and compassionate, you’ll probably speak in the tone your audience expects to hear, whatever that may be. Mirroring, as psychologists call it.
If you are cautious, efficient, and callous, you probably drill-sargent your way through emails:
Did you do the thing?
That’s OK at boot camp. And at an office in Philadelphia in 1985 or even 1885.
In the office world of the 1880s, there were desks, writing machines, filing systems, electricity, telecom networks, daily commutes, elevators, staplers, water coolers, and IBM.
That world persists but it’s fragmenting under the mobile Internet and now the pandemic economy.
Add to the desk: car, bed, car seat on drive to store, kitchen, couch, and a jog. If this is where your message is soaked in, maybe its tone should be a little more you?
(Whatever “you” is – that’s another subject.)
Horton and Wohl studied and documented “para-social relationships” 64 years ago – they said listeners and viewers experienced a feeling of intimacy and friendship with TV and radio personalities. If you were a broadcaster then, the audience knew you better than you knew their friends. Or at least it seemed like it.
One of the striking characteristics of the new mass media–radio, television, and the movies–is that they give the illusion of face-to-face relationships with the performer
A newer attachment theory: you have a business opportunity to foster micro-parasocial relationships through your content marketing. And those can turn into two-way relationships at the click of a button – like if you click ‘reply’ and weigh in here.