(Personal) Hygiene


Last week I received an email with a single word in the subject line: “Hygiene”. Upon opening it, I discovered it was from my dentist. Apparently it’s time for me to get my teeth cleaned.

I guess I’m glad it wasn’t from my gynecologist.

That said, it struck (and continues to strike) me as an extraordinarily poor choice for an email subject line from a dentist who wants to keep my business.

All of which got me to thinking about the many ways in which we allow technology to depersonalize our communication—and how important (and easy!) it is to keep that personal touch at the forefront of all our interactions.

Particularly when we want positive results.

In this particular case, what subject line would I have preferred? How about, “It’s time for your semi-annual teeth cleaning.”? As noted in How to Wow, “you” is the most persuasive word in the English language. Dropping “your” into the header would have provided the personal touch we all crave.

So as you sit down to craft your next email subject line, take the time to consider how it might land for your reader. Beyond ensuring your choice isn’t sterile, vague or garbled, does it include a personal touch that will reassure the reader you spent (at least) a moment considering his or her day?

Frances Cole Jones