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Modern Manners + Etiquette: Upgrading an Email’s “Brand” + More

Friday, August 17, 2012


How to instill a higher sense of artistry or at least interest, in your staff's emails? Didi has the answer.

The boss wants to know how to protect his brand during the August doldrums when emails tend to get curt, House Guest Gift Etiquette when the host won't accept money, Coworker Funeral Etiquette when you didn't know the deceased's former husband, were some of the more timely Q&As at Didi Lorillard's NewportManners.com this week.

Dear Didi,
My staff sends me copies of their emails whether they're orders or answers to queries. I'm bothered by the curt tone of these emails. They're too droning and boring. How do I get my staff to show some flare and more enthusiasm for the brand?  I'm stumped.  K.W., Providence

Dear K.W.,
Just as the human voice has undertones and overtones, emails take on their own tone. When I proof any email, before clicking 'send' I evaluate the tone. Is it too abrupt? Is it too cold? Do I sound abrasive? How would I react to the tone, if the email was sent to me? Inevitably, I'll add a gentle word or bit of humor, insert the person's first name in the first or last sentence, or add a salutation and/or closing before signing my name with my signature, ~Didi.  To perk up company emails, initiate a weekly competition for the rest of the summer with, say, a Starbucks or Newport Creamery gift card as a reward for the best email. Encourage your staff to be whimsical and friendlier. Put an email policy in place to train your employees to show a bit more flare. Emails represent your brand and are a reflection of your company. Start by expressing your own style and emphasize the importance of good communication skills in your emails to your staff. Have fun with this.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
Hi, we recently stayed at a cousin's condo for 4 nights and 5 days. He will not take rent compensation even though he's been out of work for the past two years and has a new job where he has to drives for 2 hrs each way. We were thinking of a gas card gift. How much would be appropriate? I don't want to be too cheap or over the top. Or if you can think of something else I would be open to suggestions.
Thanks,   J.C., Boston

Dear J.C.,
Send him a gas gift card for $200, figuring it cost you fifty dollars a night. If you can afford to give more, then do.Then if he says that's too much, remind him that it would have cost you more to stay in a motel for four nights and his condo was a lot more fun.

Your pragmatic idea of a gas card is a good one because he has an expensive daily commute. Nonetheless, make sure he doesn't have a Prius (or other gas efficient car) before you buy the gas card. In that case, send him a J.Crew gift card. If he's been out of work for two years, he'll probably need a new pair of shoes.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
I am starting to doubt my dress choice. I am the mother-of-the-groom. It is champagne color, just above the knee and it is a 6 pm wedding in Memphis.  L.S.B., Nashville, TN

Dear L.S.B.,
Stop doubting. Champagne color and other shades of beige are the colors of the MOG—as are shades of blue. Make sure it is properly fitted to flatter and accentuate your curves, and that straps that shouldn't slide off your shoulder, won't slide off your shoulder. No matter how confident you are in the dress, go to a good tailor and make sure it's a great fit. That said, wear nude-colored (a color that comes close to your skin tone) shoes to elongate your legs. Carry a small clutch bag for your lipstick and lipgloss.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
Should I go to the viewing or funeral of a co-worker's ex-husband?  L.C., New Haven, CT

Dear L.C.,
If you did not know the coworker's former husband, then you needn't attend the viewing—or the funeral. A lot of people feel it is hypocritical to attend a viewing/funeral of someone they don't know. Certainly you can talk to her about her former husband and say something such as, "It must have been a shock (blow) to you, how are you doing?" Then, you can say, "I'm sorry for your loss." Often, people want to talk about the deceased, so you can say, "What do you remember best about him?" Be a good listener.

On the other hand, if you are a really good friend of the coworker and she had children from her marriage with the deceased, you would go to the viewing and/or funeral in support of her children, even if you didn't know their father. It's important for children to see that although their parents were divorced, their parents' friends came together to celebrate the life of their father.  ~Didi

Didi Lorillard researches shifting etiquette at NewportManners.com by answering questions on relationship dilemmas, wedding etiquette, dress codes and manners. Or find Didi on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, or Pinterest after reading her earlier GoLocal columns, some of which are listed below.


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