Gain Power with Email
We're moving on now to email. This is relatively easy, but it's also gonna lead to other media. And we can let you steer this if you're willing to do it. I'm gonna talk about gaining power basically starting with the do's and the don'ts. This is gonna be really easy. Use the person's name. Duh. So here's the question though. Do you use the word dear so and so? Do you simply write the person's first name and a comma? What's the rhetorical answer?
That depends, right? Let's move on, 'cause we're gonna get more into that in a little bit. Appropriate contact info. This should be obvious, and yet, most of the emails I get don't have contact info. It drives me crazy. Sometimes I need more than your email. I want your website. I wanna know you're at symbol, what you're using. What's your handle for Twitter and Instagram? What's your phone number if there's some opportunity to call you? And obviously, you don't wanna give out your phone number to everybody, but when it's appropria...
te, give it out. Rather than... One of the things you don't want is a client saying, "What's your phone number?" It should be there. They're gonna ask anyway. But it should still be there. When you write, don't write about what you want. Write about what the other person wants. This should now be obvious to you, because you're remapping the brain. You're thinking rhetorically. Right? It's not about you. So anything and every situation involving an email is a persuasive situation. Why? Because you're enhancing your own reputation, or you're trying to get people to do something. Or you're trying to get them to simply be in a better mood. Less that. We're gonna get into that with don'ts. Rewrite your emails. My wife is such a great... She still thinks emails are letters, so they're too long, frankly. Sorry dear. She writes so beautifully. And it doesn't come naturally to her. She is a very verbal person. She's great with...she's a fundraiser. So she just agonizes over important emails. And she'll write them three or four times. And they're beautiful. I mean, they put my emails to shame. And as a result, they get such great reactions from people. People save her emails, 'cause they're so beautiful. And not just the personal ones. The business ones, as well. I think that's really important. So rewrite them, and when you rewrite them, they should be shorter than when you started. You're editing, okay? Detail and brevity. They sound contradictory, but that's why you're editing. When you talk about details, don't say some. Don't say many. Don't use vague terms. Say how many. Use ranges. 100 to 300. Don't just talk about we're gonna get a broad area. Say specifically what that area you're covering is. Detailed but brief. And we're gonna get to how brief and how. Don'ts. Don't tell jokes by email. What's the secret to comedy? Timing. How'd I do? Let me do it again. What's the secret of comedy? Timing. It doesn't work with email, because emails don't do timing. Not only that, but what's the other problem with jokes on emails? You never know who's gonna read them. So when you do an email, you are speaking to the world, as far as you know. Bad things happen when emails get into the wrong hands. Especially when you tell a joke. A joke, every joke, is inappropriate to some audience. Even if it's just boring. The most inoffensive jokes just don't come off well with the wrong audiences. They make you look like an idiot. Then, really great jokes are gonna be offensive to one audience or another, and you never know who's gonna get those emails. I don't have to tell you this, do I? Apparently, I do with millions of people. Because people are constantly losing their jobs over emails. Talk to any lawyer or PR person. They wish nobody ever emailed. Don't complain in an email. Complaints should be done in person. Unless it's a formal complaint or a formal process that has to begin with an email. You just have to do it. That's a little bit different. But don't complain about how hard your work is or how unfairly you're being treated. Don't ever get personal about somebody being a bad person to you in an email. No matter how confidential you think that is, you have to assume that email is gonna get into other people's hands, okay? What we're talking about here is kairos: the art of opportunity. And the problem with emails is emails have nothing to do with opportunity. Because they exist forever. And they're not one occasion. They're every occasion. And occasion is usually about specific people in one place. And emails are not. So emails are, in rhetorical terms, unkairotic. They have nothing to do with occasions, 'cause they're every occasion, everywhere. Do I sound really passionate about this? Can you tell that maybe some things have gone wrong in my life with emails? I'm speaking personally. Except, not for romance. Sorry, I get that in saying it's personal. Do not romance people over email, especially in an office situation. And for that matter, honestly, maybe I'm old fashioned enough to believe that it's a really bad idea to woo people over emails. They're better ways than to do it. Again, why? 'Cause it can get in the wrong hands. I don't have to go into details about that, do I? Which leads to, don't hit send all. It's now harder to hit send all than it used to be. There used to be a button everywhere which led to all kinds of tiers. People accidentally hitting send all. Gossip, complaints, romance. What you have to assume that every email sent is gonna be a send all. It's gonna get in the wrong hands. You can't control who's gonna forward emails. And don't copy too many people. Don't blind copy when you can avoid it. Send emails to as few people as possible. Do not forward other people's emails, except when it's necessary. Why am I telling you all this? It's just about business practice here? I'm talking about rhetoric. Again, rhetoric has to do with specific occasions. When I say, "That depends," what I'm really saying is, "That depends on the occasion." And emails are really bad at occasions. So when you forward someone else's email, you're taking that email to an unintended audience. And sometimes you do. I forward emails every day. But I think twice before I do. I think, "Is this appropriate people to send it to? "Would the person I'm forwarding from, "would that person appreciate my doing this? "Is this helpful?" This is something where, do you know about this? This is something that a whole lot of research has shown. That the higher the level in a hierarchy a person is, and by hierarchy I mean that very broadly. How important is the person? How rich are they? How important are they to you? The higher you go in any hierarchy, the shorter the emails. And this is actually kind of decorum. These are manners. If you write shorter than the person above you, that may be kind of a power play that doesn't get appreciated. One of the reasons is, and this actually makes sense in practical terms, because what your boss wants, or the higher level person wants, is more detail and information. So that that person can make decisions. On the other hand, that person doesn't have to justify his or her opinion, because they're in the power relationship. So they can simply say, "Yeah. "Go ahead." "No." Boom, you're done. That's not being rude, by the way. That's simply being efficient and brief. When you're dealing with a colleague, give as much detail as necessary. Be as warm as you'd like to be according to how the relationship is going. As long as you're not telling jokes or romancing. And then send your email in a way that people will appreciate. That you're the kind of person who's got that caring, craft, and cost thing going on. Let's talk about when not to use email. Probably some of this is obvious to you, as well. Proposing marriage? Probably not. Breaking up? Probably not. What else? When do you not send an email? (audience member speaking quietly) Can you grab a mic? We can have a little bit of a conversation here about this. You said when...
When it's something urgent.
When it's something urgent. Can you describe a situation when it's an urgent situation when you shouldn't email? And why wouldn't you send an email if it's urgent?
We'll say I messed up something on my cake, so my client's not gonna get the cake on time. So I need to let them know right away, so that they can either buy it somewhere else or they can advise me on what else they would prefer to get instead of that.
Okay, so what do you do if you're not sending an email in that specific situation? What medium do you use?
You call them on the phone. Here's another thing that you're doing when you call. They're hearing your voice. So one of the things about kairos, the art of opportunity, is that you are expressing yourself in various ways through the media themselves. The medium is the message. You've heard this expression. What that really means is certain media work in various ways better than others. In the very beginning of this class, we talked about logos, pathos, and ethos: logic, emotion, and character. So some medium more logical than others. Some are more emotional. And some express character better. Voice expresses character. What's interesting is, you instinctively said, and of course it also makes sense, making a phone call let's them know right away. And you know they've received the message, so there's this back and forth, right? Texting can work pretty fast.
It can, but it's not professional. We're talking professional environment.
Professional and also in portrayal of your caring, craft, and cause. So you care enough to take the time to call and make sure you've reached them. 'Cause you care. You wanna be first with the news, and you want them to hear your voice. You're expecting a craft, because you're gonna talk about solution and how you're gonna fix it. And at the same time, you're conveying a kind of general character which is your cause. You wanna make it best for the customer, right? That's you're seethray. So a phone call is great at expressing character. It's not necessarily really good at conveying tables of information. Or really detailed stuff. Sometimes, a phone call is not a great way to convey emotion, because people can't see your face, can they?
Now, there are other ways that you can convey information. Let's leave pastry. You can leave the mic, too, if you want. Or just hang on to it. You can sing... So let's talk about social media. What is Twitter if you're talking about logos, pathos, and ethos: logic, emotion and character? What would Twitter be? Would it be emotional? Would it be character? Or would it be logical? (audience speaking quietly) It depends. Wow, you're good. It does depend. So a lot of emotion does get expressed over Twitter. But at the same... Is it logical, though? Generally, not the most logical medium. The interesting thing about Twitter is that it tends to bring people together in tribal ways. So you could say it conveys character. Twitter is a lot about values. It's confirming people's beliefs in very short bursts. You're not really justifying yourself so much. You don't have time. Twitter is longer than it used to be, so you can justify yourself a little bit. You can send a link, but you're not really making an argument that you're proving through Twitter, are you? You're bringing groups together in tribal ways. You're bringing them together in a group. You also may be raising attention. But again, that's creating an audience, isn't it? And that is an identification thing. So a lot of character has to do with people's identification with you or with your message. So Twitter, theroetically anyway, has to do with character. What other media are we talking about here? Let's say radio. That's voice. Voice is character. Okay, what else? Video. Let's talk video. Video is really terrific at emotion. But a video also conveys all media at once. It's voice, it's picture, it's moving picture. It's storytelling, so you can say it's caring, craft, and cause depending on how you're conveying yourself. That's video. But video is also, more than anything else, video is great at conveying caring, because it reaches out to people and can be very emotional. If you think about every American commercial, it tends to make you laugh or cry. And that is... Moving pictures can be moving. What are we missing here? We talked other social media? I mean, social media tend to be very tribal, because they bring audiences together and make them identify with each other or a brand or a cause or a particular kind of concept. It makes people identify with them. Social media are really tricky this way, because they bring together audiences and they make people feel part of that. So it's really powerful, isn't it? It makes people really identify with you and whatever you want to convey. And that gets people wanting to just do anything you wanna do, ideally. It also screws everything up, because it's tribal. So social media tend not to be very good at solutions to things, right? It's not a great way to do deliberative argument and talking about the future and how to solve problems. You kinda need different things to do that. But websites can be good at that, aren't they? Websites, people seek out. So they're looking for information. When they go to a website, they have a reason to do it. Right? They're looking for things. That's a great place to use deliberative rhetoric. Here are solutions to problems. Am I losing you on this? Getting in the weeds here, but they're great weeds. Alright, so what did we do? We talked about emails, but we talked about more than emails. And what we just went through is stuff that people get PhDs in. So awesome you. What we've done is to talk about the medium and the message. And one of the things to think about is what's the message I wanna convey? What's the urgency of that message? What kinda relationship do I wanna sustain? You know, and here, aren't we going back to what your goals are? What do I want here? Do I want a relationship? Do I want to change moods, minds, willingness to do things or stop doing things? Do I wanna reset people's priority levels? Resetting people's priority levels is really interesting. One way that, classically, people reset priority levels is through motion pictures. You thought this was unimportant. Let me show you this picture with this character who struggles and does awesome things in the end, because people get together and love each other very much. You're now resetting a priority level. Dickens, the novelist, got everybody in Britain to care about poor people by talking about little kids who were suffering and overcoming difficulty. Right? He moved people that way through story. So stories are really good at getting people to reset priority levels. You think this is unimportant? Let me show you this character struggling. That's gonna reset your priority levels. See how this is all kind of folding back and forth? What am I doing here? What I'm trying to do is to get you not just to have a set of tools. We're gonna deal with these tools, and we have been all along. But more importantly, I'm trying to get you to think in a different frame of mind. To think rhetorically. That you're now thinking more and more about the audience. You're saying, "That depends on the situation. "That situation depends on the audience." And you're thinking, "What are my goals, "and how am I gonna achieve those goals? "How do I get people to like and trust me "and identify, not just with me, "but with what I'm trying to convey? "And can I do that really well when I'm screwing up?"