Warm & Joyful Emails: Emailing with Intentionally Equitable Hospitality #EmbraceEquity #IWD2023

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 3 seconds

Someone recently told me that my emails spark joy for them, and previously, especially during the pandemic, people told me that my emails were warm. It’s a strange thing, to be thanked for your emails, right? I mean, it’s email. But I think I apply Intentionally Equitable Hospitality in my emails, i.e. I recognize the power I have as a “host” of that emailing space, and I try to make it warm and welcoming to recipients – and that will always entail an element of equity because you have to imagine what is “welcoming” for each of the people you’re emailing. But I think maybe there’s something here that I’m doing that’s worth sharing, and someone asked on Twitter for me to elaborate for International Women’s Day 2023 where the theme is #EmbraceEquity, so here it is. And you’ll see it’s more about care than equity, but I am always talking about the intersections of care and equity (my Equity/Care matrix paper with Mia Zamora here) – and of course I know every person reading this has the judgment to differentiate between when these tips would be impossible in an extremely formal situation, and when it would be appropriate or help improve a relationship. There are probably a few borderline situations, and depending on your personality, you’ll take it in one direction or another. For me, for borderline situations, I’ll go the “warmer/less formal” route, because that’s me and that’s a risk I’ll always take – but I know this doesn’t work for all people. But definitely for situations you feel safe doing so, try these tips:

1. Ask how people are (and their loved ones, if appropriate), or at least say you “hope” they’re well

2. Imagine talking to people, looking them in the eye, as you write – don’t use unnecessary formality (contextual, of course). Using accessible language will reduce the cognitive load on your reader in any context, and being accessible is more important than appearing smart or intellectual or scholarly (I’m looking at you, fellow academics!)

3. When you need to send emails to a lot of people with similar messages, whenever possible, send individual emails with “Dear {name}” rather than “Dear all” – to do this kind of care efficiently, u can use mailmerge or Gmail “templates” so you don’t rewrite the email many times

4. Use emojis unless it is a super formal email with someone super distant. 💝 Provide alternative text for images if you’re using any. I actually couldn’t figure out how to create alt text for heart wrapped in a ribbon emoji I just used here – but I just explained it now!

5. Use headings and colors to help people navigate your email if it’s got several items

6. It’s really mostly an attitude towards email, rather than the specific practices I just outlined

7. A more “formal” email tip that I think is also important for these warmer emails is to choose your “subject” well! Personalize it if possible, sometimes include the person’s name if possible! Instead of “Event on AI on Wednesday March 8th” you can say “You’re invited to our AI event on March 8th”, you know? And if you include the person’s name in the title, all the better!

8. Be as concise as possible – most people don’t have time for this 🙂 I sometimes add a tl;dr at the top!

9. Adapt to the audience – add things here and there that are for THAT person reading THAT email on THAT day!

What are your tips? How do you adapt the email to the audience?

Header image created on Canva – Laptop with email icon and heart icons flowing out of it

3 thoughts on “Warm & Joyful Emails: Emailing with Intentionally Equitable Hospitality #EmbraceEquity #IWD2023

  1. These are great tips, thanks! I think I get too worried about not sounding smart when writing to other profs, and I appreciate the tip “being accessible is more important than appearing smart or intellectual”. 😍

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.