How a super rich entrepreneur taught me the greatest correspondence lesson ever

Entrepreneur and Artist Adam HumphreysMy big bro Adam (pictured) has become a budding businessman after several years of thumbing his nose at commerce. This is a good thing as he’s very talented and competitive.

Adam now has to deal with frustrating client emails, the way I used to in spades running the Pacific Website Co.

I made a million mistakes as an entrepreneur in my early 20′s dealing with client emails emotionally. But then a few years ago I met an extremely successful real estate financier who taught me a different approach.

“Hi Tommy, Thanks for your email” he started every message he wrote to me.

“Wow, that’s nice,” I thought. It didn’t matter what came after those first words, I was completely disarmed by his gentle opening.

This man had been around long enough to know that he would catch more flies with honey than he would with vinegar, as the saying goes. And he obviously caught a lot of flies. Here was a multi-millionaire becoming completely humble to a 25-year-old.

I have adopted this lesson for my own emails, and I haven’t had a blow-up since. The minefield of client correspondence is no longer an issue for me.

I now share this lesson with anyone who will listen, including my bro, the budding entrepreneur. He was sitting beside me in Brooklyn this morning putting it to practice as we laughed together about this simple trick.

Writing “Thanks for your email” will solve a lot of problems even before they start. Detach emotionally from corporate correspondence and you will win more business.

Even when you’re right, and they’re wrong – let it go. 

What do you think?

About Tommy Humphreys

Tommy Humphreys is a writer, consultant, investor and speaker focused on early stage mining, oil and gas, and technology companies. He founded the Pacific Website Co. in 2006 and CEO.CA in 2012.

  • Thanks for your post

    “Thanks for your post. You’re an absolute fuckin wanker.”

    Hmm, maybe it’s just me but I think there’s more to it than just starting with a platitude.

    If I’m asking a question then replying starting with a plain generic “Thanks for your email” with no specifics about what it is you’re thankful for is telling me it’s just part of your email template or email routine or hello and it doesn’t mean anything. Had I sent some feedback then it’s less obvious, but still without references to any specifics it makes me think it’s probably just an automated reply and no one actually even read the mail. So either way, if you aren’t referring to anything specific I said I’m interpreting a plain “Thanks for your email” somewhere between “Hello” and “I don’t give a damn, but I’m hoping you won’t notice”. Maybe it’s a cultural thing so I just try to ignore it.

  • SDsurfin

    I always do three things when I correspond with people:

    1. Thank them for taking the time to write.
    2. Let them know you value their business.
    3. Empathize. I usually say: “I’m sorry to hear that you’re having a problem”

    Nothing drives me crazy more than when a business tries to be evasive and deny a problem. I get the fact that they don’t want to accept blame for something that is not their fault. But, if a customer says he has a problem than give him the benefit of the doubt. Acknowledge that he has a problem. Then, work to find out what is wrong.

    People who go into denial-mode right off the bat tend to put you on the defensive. Then it becomes a fight to try to prove who is right. Treat your customers with honesty and respect and they will reward you with their repeat business.

  • http://www.facebook.com/maia.alvesdacunha Swami Prem Vikram

    I really liked your approach, and I can say that,this should be done to life itself. A really big friend of mine is passing the weekend with me because of a test she has to do in town.What I learned in first hand with her is that it doesnt matter who is right or wrong ,but the way you do things, so that people understand that even if you have a different opinion you will respect them and try to help.This works wonders and is the seed of love, just dont try to do it if you dont really mean it because chances of backfire are great and it it does, it ends worse than if you have not done anything.

    p.s.: sorry it there is any english grammar mistake, english is not my mother language :)