Improve Your Email

What information and questions should and shouldn’t your response include? Before you hit the Reply button, consider these tips for better email replies.

By Randy B. Hecht

ou’re at your computer when the familiar chime of incoming email sounds. Lo and behold, it’s not from some spammer who wants to make your mortgage payment smaller or your anatomy larger. It’s a real email from a real person who saw your profile and wants to get to know you.

The first step is to read your new admirer’s email and check out the
No need to jump down someone’s throat for what could be a simple keystroke error.
profile. But what are the good signs to look for? What are the red flags?

Share your enthusiasm
A message from someone who could be your match probably contains at least a few references that catch your eye. Maybe you’ll even read something that makes you think, “Wow! I can’t believe we have that in common!” Work those points into your reply and the words will flow easily, and that can set the stage for a great, communicative relationship.

Read between the lines
In emails and profiles, what’s omitted can tell us as much as what’s included. Is your prospective suitor’s marital status listed as “I’ll tell you later?” Uh-oh. (Same goes for smoking or drinking habits, if those are important to you.) No need to jump down someone’s throat for what could be a simple keystroke error, but if you see something you question, don’t be afraid to (politely) question it.

Don’t lose your head
At this early stage, we present ourselves and see our prospective matches in their best light. Don’t fall into the
Those are great jumping-off points for getting acquainted, but look deeper, too.
trap of thinking you’ve found the “perfect” person, and don’t reply with such an overflow of enthusiasm that your reply terrifies the person who contacted you. Everyone has flaws, and the trick is to find someone you love in spite of (or maybe even, perversely, because of) those flaws.

Maintain your anonymity
Exercise caution with any variation on the line, “To be honest, I’m not too crazy about communicating by email and would rather chat by phone, so I’d rather if you (give me a call/let me call you).” Remember,’s anonymity feature is designed to let you start new relationships slowly and safely… let it do its job!

Look for values, land a bargain
No marriage lasts 40 years just because of a shared taste for sushi, an interest in big-band music or a preference for Caribbean vacations. Those are great jumping-off points for getting acquainted, but look deeper, too. What does your prospective match say about family? Do you seem to have similar levels of interest in a committed relationship? Do you share common attitudes about the principles that are most important to you? Values endure… and if a prospective match has the right ones for you, your relationship has its best chance of enduring, too.

Randy B. Hecht is a freelance writer who frequently contributes to Happen magazine.
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