I think you’ll agree that an attribute we deeply appreciate in others is listening skills. So in a fast-paced digital world, how can we enhance our written communications to show we are paying attention? Here are three tips:

1. Echo the language you received. If Alberta writes us asking to help spice up an announcement, why write back saying we’ll be glad to see if we can add some pizazz or make the announcement more dynamic? We can show we’re listening by playing back the sender’s wording and saying we’ll be glad to take a stab at spicing up the announcement.

2. Take advantage of “prime property”: the subject line. If Alphonse sends an email titled Need some help because he wants advice regarding a dilemma, why not respond with Your dilemma in the subject line? (In general, the trick of updating or sharpening the subject line in an email exchange still appears to be a well-kept secret.)

3. Include a detail. Next Monday, many emails will start with something like Good morning, Alma. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving weekend. And that’s a good thing. That’s friendly. But we can do even better with something like Good morning, Alma. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving weekend, and everyone loved your new cherry pie recipe. Now Alma knows we’ve been paying attention.

The swirl of today’s communications challenges us to take extra steps to forge strong connections. Showing we’re listening is key.

You can go to to learn more about my workshops on writing in the workplace, individual coaching, editing, and handbook – 100+ Instant Writing Tips. Thank you.

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