The 7 emails that nobody wants to receive — and how to answer each one, with love.

 
 

That email you just tappity-tapped out to Aunt Sadie?

 
 

It’s traveling at 85,000 miles per second — about half the speed of light.

Exponentially faster than a cheetah, a speed-boat, a Japanese magnetic levitation train, the core of a tornado — even interstellar spacecraft. Whoa.

 

Email is astonishing.

 
 

It’s one of the most significant, life-altering inventions of our generation.

And yet, most of us have already become numb to its wondrousness.

It’s become a drag, a chore, just another “thing to do.”

I’d like to change that.

To make email FUN again, my theory is: we’ve got to write better emails, get fewer emails and reframe the way we think about emails.

Basically …

 

We’ve got to teach people how to treat us — and how to email us — by modeling the kind of loving, clear, direct communication that we’d like to see in the world.

 
 

To begin? I offer you …

7 fill-in-the-blank responses for the 7 emails that NOBODY wants to receive — especially if you’re running a business, website or blog.

Copy + paste. Personalize. Kapow!

Inbox = clear as the dawn.

 
 

Not-Fun Email No. 1: “Hello, you don’t know me but … here is my entire life story.”

 

Hey {person’s name},

I know how much courage it takes to share your true story with another human being. I’m honored that you chose to share it with me.

I’m sending love to {their city} + wishing you lots of strength as you continue to move through {briefly describe the situation they’re dealing with, or simply say: “your current challenges.”}.

You’re clearly a strong + wise soul.

I know you can handle anything.

{Your name here}

 


 

Not-Fun Email No. 2: “Hello, you don’t know me but … I would like you to donate your time / energy / products / skills / etc in support of my project, for free.”

 

Hey {person’s name},

I’m honored that my work is resonating with you. Thanks for your kind words. :)

In terms of your request: I’m going to give a loving, respectful “no.”

I choose a handful of {volunteer / charitable / pro bono / philanthropic} projects at the beginning of each year.

This year, the projects I’m supporting are {name of program / charity / non-profit / etc}.

And while it’s never easy to say “no” to new opportunities + worthy causes (like yours), I need to honor my current commitments + avoid spreading myself too thin.

It sounds like you’re somebody who lives to serve others + strives to make the world a better place — so I’m sure you understand this particular challenge. If only we had clones, right? :)

Thanks again for writing. And thank you for doing the work that you do.

{Your name here}

 


 

Not-Fun Email No. 3: “Hello, you don’t know me but … I have a series of questions about my life + career that I would like you to answer, for free.”

 

Hey {person’s name},

That’s a terrific question! With your permission, I’d love to answer it on my {blog / podcast / radio show / webTV show / in my next book}, because I bet lots + lots of people are grappling with a very similar problem.

Sound good?

{Your name here}

P.S. In terms of the rest of your questions … I’ve already addressed most of those {on my FAQ page / in my archives / in my e-book / right over here.} Happy exploring. :)

 


 

Not-Fun Email No. 4: “Hello, you don’t know me but … I have a series of questions that you have already answered on your website, except I didn’t see them / didn’t read them.”

 

Hey {person’s name},

Deep thanks for writing.

It sounds like you’ve got a question about {working with me / hiring me / how I got started / how I do my hair / what my favorite spatula is / etc}.

I’ve got your answer to that question — and many others — {right over here – link to helpful page}.

Have a look. I bet you’ll find precisely what you need.

And if you have any additional q’s after that, I’ll be here. :)

{Your name here}

 


 

Not-Fun Email No. 5: “Hello, you don’t know me but … I am irrationally furious about a minor infraction that I feel you committed against me, probably because I’m deeply unhappy + desperately need somewhere to focus my seething rage.”

 

Hey {person’s name},

Thanks for your note. It sounds like you {ordered a product / tried to sign up for my class / tried to unsubscribe from my newsletter / tried to download such-and-such / insert action here} and something went wonky.

How frustrating! Sometimes, technology is not our friend. And sometimes, regular ol’ human mistakes do happen.

Let’s get you squared away:

{describe what they should do / what’s being done to remedy the issue}

That should take care of everything.

Thanks again for writing — and for giving me the chance to tie up a loose end. :)

{Your name here}

 


 

Not-Fun Email No. 6: “Hello, you don’t know me but … you offend my sensibilities + I just felt you ought to know.”

 

Hey {person’s name},

It sounds like {my work / my ideas / my writing / my communication style / my latest project / my face / my existence} has upset you.

I’m sorry to hear that — I certainly never want to create angst or discomfort for anyone.

The good news is that I’m not the only {consultant / coach / philosopher / poet / writer / healer / yogi / teacher / roller-skater} in the world. :)

There are hundreds + thousands of other people out there, sharing ideas + striving to be helpful — just like me, but differently.

I trust that you’ll find somebody else whose worldview resonates more strongly with your own.

Sending love, for the journey …

{Your name here}

 


 

Not-Fun Email No. 7: “Hello, you don’t know me but … I’d like to know why you’re taking so long to respond to my previous email (from me, the stranger you don’t know).”

 

To circumvent this issue, experiment with using an email auto-responder that manages people’s expectations. Like this one:
 

Hello, world:

Like most people, I send + receive about 100 emails a day — and write about a novel’s worth of emails a year.

Some weeks, I’m able to clear my inbox with astonishing speed.

Other weeks, not quite so much.

If you’re reading these words, it means I’m having a “not quite so much” week.

Thank you in advance for your patience.

And while you wait for a reply to your note, why not {watch this inspiring video / learn a new dance move / take a nap / explore my blog archives / peek at my upcoming tour schedule / hug somebody / close your laptop + go play in the sunshine}?

Back soon-ish,

{Your name here}

P.S. I know that auto-responder messages like this one can be annoying, but nobody has ever died from not-getting-an-instantaneous-email-reply-itis. Not even me. And I am tremendously impatient. ;)

 


 

xo.

 

P.S. Registration for I ❤ EMAIL is now open. It starts on January 10th. If you would like to write better emails, get fewer emails and feel differently about emails, period, you might want to have a peek.
 

P.P.S. Registration for HOW TO SAY IT — my new script of the month club! — is opening verrrry soon. If you like fill-in-the-blank templates — like the ones I shared, just above — this is your goldmine. Hop on my mailing list to stay in the know.

 
 

Comments

What a fabulous resource! Thank you so much for sharing this. I think #5 and 6 are especially helpful … no matter how many emails you get a day, those nasty ones can hurt, but replying with love helps to heal on both sides, I think. Thanks again!

This is great! Thanks Alexandra! I am enjoying your emails and your website. Inspiring to say the least. Resonates with my style. xo

This post made me smile. Thank you!

Nicole L. on Jan 2, 2014 Reply

Alexandra, this is a star5 collection! *****
I always struggle with the “right NO” answers.
Thank you!

Because of you,

dear Alexandra Franzen, I’ve ordered a cheese-of-the-month.

And your new script-of-the-month-club? Greatest idea ever for 2014! {One of the things where one has to think: Why haven’t you thought of this, like, five years ago?}

I am really looking forward to what you’ll write and create in 2014,
Barbara

Cheese for the world! Enjoy every nibble. :)

Alexandra Franzen on Jan 3, 2014 Reply

Looove the first one. I SO need this, as I get these kind of “life story” emails on the regular and while I’ve learned to be short and sweet in my responses, it’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who doesn’t take the time to craft a full reply. Thanks! xo

Hi Alexandra! I just want to let you know you are an amazing writer with a really wonderful perspective of life! Thanks so much for these inspiring and creative ways to respond to those not-so-fun emails!
Big hugs!
Kathy

Great idea to show how others how we want to be treated (via email or in any other situation) by doing it ourselves.

I especially like number six, what a good way to diffuse the situation without apologizing unnecessarily or getting defensive.

Thanks!

Well said :)

I feel inspired to craft a loving email response to a “I’m so confused (wanna be) client” who really only want a free “clarity” session (which I don’t do) and keep the draft for future “I’m so confused I need a free session client”.

Merci Alexandra for bringing the love back into hard to write email response.

And a happy, love-filled new year to you!

XO

You are quite welcome, Madame Frenette!

I’d love to hear you translate + read these templates … in French! :D

Alexandra Franzen on Jan 3, 2014 Reply

Pure f#%^ing perfection! Love this, thank you & Happy New Year.

Torrie on Jan 2, 2014 Reply

This is fantastic. Thank you.

This useful post is going to be bookmarked fo’ sho’!

Love love love this….

Soooo useful, well written and clearly backed with love. Thanks as always for the generosity and inspiration!
xo

SUPER post, enough said – thank you xx

I will definitely use a few of these at work. Thanks!

You don’t know me, but that was a stellar blog post. :)

Paige on Jan 2, 2014 Reply

Best comment, Paige! ;-)

Ha! Word.

Alexandra Franzen on Jan 3, 2014 Reply

OK, seriously loved this enough I wanted to leave a comment to say so. I feel like I’m so good at email, yet I definitely ignore the type of emails above and when someone takes the time to email you, whether or not you love it, it deserves a thoughtful reply. Thanks for the great post. :)

OMG.. this is AWESOME! Thank you!! copied!

You are so great :) Happy New Year and efficient email filtering!

Kim on Jan 2, 2014 Reply

Amazing Alex. I heart you. Thank you!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I will be using these for sure. I often get emails like the first example, and I have taken to ignoring them, which doesn’t really feel good, but its because I can never think of what to say….but now I won’t have that issue :)

This is SO brilliant. I will use every one of them. You have made my life easier and my frustrations less.

Thank YOU!

WONDERFUL!!!! you are so talented with words! And I id feel the love!
The one I often get over and over, is some writing and insisting I lower my price, or taking it in their own hands and blatantly offering an insanely lower price on an item in my shop than what I have listed. My prices are super reasonable, and I’m struggling to make it as is, but more than that, it’s the principle!

Your response to creepy hagglers:

“My pricing is fair + my pricing is firm.

I don’t offer discounts, because I like to keep things clean, simple + consistent.

I’d expect exactly the same treatment from you + your business.

If you’d like to pay the price listed on my website, {product name} is all yours! If not, I’m wishing you nothing but the best. Be well + happy shopping.”

BOOM.

Alexandra Franzen on Jan 3, 2014 Reply

Hi lady! When i read that you are struggling with your pricing as it is, it reminded me of when I started working as a personal stylist 6 years ago. My pricing was so low i couldn’t make a decent living with my my craft. Eventually few of my clients told me i needed to reconsider my pricing. And i also started noticing the wonderful life transformations my work created for my clients. It took me 4 years to get to a pricing i feel is fair to me and my clients. Maybe you are in need of a pricing/branding assessment? Women tend to undervalue our offerings. Kisses from Ghana, where I am taking time off for my yearly strategic planning.

Brilliant as always! Thank you for sharing, I’m sure they will come in handy ;)

Oh my Alex…these are amazing and I know I’m going to put every one of them to use!

Thanks so much!

I just sent one of these to a gentleman who spilled his whole existence to me via a PM on Facebook. Thank you, doll. Thank you.

Perrrrfect. I’m sure he felt loved up … and you got to keep your boundaries intact! :)

Alexandra Franzen on Jan 3, 2014 Reply

OMG, this is superb! Love it so much.
Thank you for sharing.

Amazing and so absolutely helpful! Thank you :)

Very refreshing. You’re a gift so thank you for sharing your gift to us.

Such a perfect blend of Love + Tact. Thank you, thank you :)

This is both fabulous and funny! You certainly know how to solve these problems with both kindness and directness. These will come in handy, thanks for the ideas!

You really do have a wonderful way with words! Love all of these and will be keeping the ideas handy for when I receive similar emails (which are few and far between but you do such a good job of handling what could be an awkward situation).

I know that you address here on how to say no to working for free, but I would love to hear about how you deal with someone asking for a discount on the rates you have provided. This has happened to me a few times recently (in web design) and though I have tackled the question with an honest – ‘no sorry I won’t reduce my rates’ I find it very uncomfortable to be asked and have to respond stating my worth.

oooohhh I just read the comments above and you have already answered this! Thank you and I will certainly adapt the advice you have given to my own situation!!

These are genius. Thank you!

Thank you for this gem. I so appreciate the kindness woven through the wisdom and humor.

This is brilliant!
The funny thing is that I think I just sent an email that nobody wants to receive. I hope I was nicer :) Anyway… I will know where they got a reply from if I get one of the above emails. Thanks for sharing!

Definitely appreciate these suggestions! I often feel overwhelmed, taxed and frustrated by my inbox, and I’m resolving this year to respond more quickly and clear that sucker out. I’m also unsubscribing from the many (many!) sales emails I get from retailers as well as the newsletters I don’t read regularly — all in the name of decluttering. Love these polite but pointed responses. Thanks!

Ohmygoodness. This is everything. ILoveYouSoMuch right now.

Wow, for years I have tried to figure out how to respond to stranger’s emails, requesting that I do research for them for free, hold their hand, or furious me for doing social justice research that makes them feel uncomfortable about racial and gender inequalities. What a wonderful resource! Thanks!

Breeze

Alexandra, so great I found this post (Thank you Theresa for sharing it on your blog! <3) Even though I haven't quite gotten any emails of this nature I have had to have "somewhat sticky" conversations with people that came across this way so having this resource will be wonderful as I go forth from now!

Love-love-love your loving approach!

Awesome – thankyou soo much! I am sure these will come in very handy :)

Thank you! Another tool in my toolbag to zip out when needed!

Alexandra – either men don’t care about annoying emails or they’re usually the senders of them! Why am I the first MAN to tell you how great these responses are? You should write a book…goodness knows, there are plenty more sorts of email to which I’d like to respond with your wit and wisdom. Many thanks!

Just used email #6 – I feel SO FLIPPIN AWESOME. Thank you.

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