Something Useful Suzanne Taught Me

When Suzanne Richardson took over as Managing Editor of ETR, I was pleased. I had recommended her – so her promotion was a feather in my cap as well as hers.

I expected to teach her a lot about writing and editing. But on that first day of her new job, it was she who was doing the teaching.

I e-mailed her my ETR essay for the week, and she e-mailed back a quick reply with a single word on it: “Thanks!”

“Thanks!” That was it. But, boy – it made me feel good.

She hadn’t even read the essay yet. But she thanked me for sending it. And her thank you ended with an exclamation point. With that exclamation point, she seemed to be saying: “I’m feeling good today, and getting your essay on time made me feel even better.”

Now maybe I was reading too much into that – but the next time I sent her an essay, I wondered if she would send me the same reply. Sure enough, she did. And guess what? It made me feel good all over again.

If you knew Suzanne personally, you would know that she is a cheerful person. Highly intelligent, highly articulate – she had found a very concise way to convey that cheerfulness to me in a single word.

It doesn’t matter to me that she surely sends the same message to every other ETR contributor. I believe she means it. And it warms my heart.

I used to bartend with a guy named Geno Rice. Geno was the best bartender I ever worked with. Not only was he amazing at making drinks, he was always the best-liked bartender in any place he worked.

Geno had a secret. He greeted everyone who walked in his bar with a hearty, “Hey, [NAME], how’s it going?” He greeted not only customers that way. He did the same with his fellow workers. And when Geno said, “Hey, Michael! How’s it going?” I felt good.

Dale Carnegie correctly pointed out that a person’s name is always his favorite word. And when Geno said anyone’s name, he said it with the same tone of voice that Suzanne conveys to me with her exclamation point.

Since that first “Thanks!” from Suzanne, I’ve made an effort to thank people whenever they send me something via e-mail – almost anything. And I use her technique: one word with an exclamation point.

It’s a small lesson, but a valuable one.

When you are communicating by e-mail, it’s easy to give the wrong impression. Just yesterday, for example, I received an urgent e-mail from an accountant I work with, asking if she had said anything to offend me. I couldn’t imagine what she was talking about. It must have been something in an e-mail that she misinterpreted.

So I e-mailed back that she was aces with me and could do no wrong. And I ended by thanking her for alerting me to the misunderstanding. And, yes, I ended that e-mail with an exclamation point!

[Ed. Note: A single word – like “Thanks!” – can have enormous power. But it’s not the only word that can alter people’s perception of you. When you have a wide-ranging vocabulary, you’ll find that people treat you with respect and even admiration. A broad vocabulary can even help you earn more money! ] [Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]