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Archive for the category “Tips”

Handy list – How to start / write / reply professional emails

I have been working for past 5 years.  During this tenure, I have worked in different offices. One thing is common everywhere. Emails! Although in some places we were encouraged to talk face to face or over the phone, in some places it was mandatory to keep everything on record. In some places we have to use emails because your colleagues are not in the same office, city or country. You also share different kinds of relations with different people across offices. You have a very different relation with your client altogether. So far, do you guys agree with me?

Emails are the most important and necessary means of communication in offices these days. Yet, we sometimes are either out of words or ideas. We are on emails all the time and still we do not have the confidence to reply to a certain few. How ironic! I have faced situations where the person sending the email has written it so well that I became unsure of how I should reply. How much is too much? How less is too less? How much is just right?

Whether you are writing to your immediate supervisor, your colleague, or your ultimate boss, your mail goal is to send the message in a way that the recipient will understand it the way you want them to. Incorrect grammar or language or tone of message can ruin your impression. To avoid such mistakes you may want to do a spell check and grammar check on your email before you send it.

In this article, I am attempting to collate different kinds of emails that you may get on a day to day basis and how you can correctly reply to them. This is not about whether you should be replying formally or informally. Take a call depending on how your relationship with the person is. I will not confuse you with distinct options. These are professional emails and might help you get out of ‘How do I reply to this?’ or ‘How do I start this email?’ situation. If you find it helpful, bookmark it and use it when you find the need to.

 

Why are you writing this email?

  • With reference to our previous conversation, I would like to let you know that……
  • With reference to our telephonic conversation, I would like to inform you / let you know that….
  • Thank you for your email regarding the changes in… / modification in the scope of work. Here are some points I think we should look at before we start the job.
  • I am writing to make a reservation/ make an appointment/ to confirm my booking / to confirm our meeting today/ to apply for the position of… / to enquire about the recent developments.
  • Just a quick note. I wish to invite you to this seminar….
  • This an invite to join us in the team building activity
  • Hope you are doing well today. I just want to let you know..
  • I heard you are not keeping well and have not come to office. I just wanted to inform you about the latest changes in the scope of work….. Hope you feel better soon. Shall get in touch with you when you are back.

Emailing a person who is not in constant touch with you

  1. Hope this email finds you well
  2. Hope this email finds you in good health
  3. Hope you had a great weekend
  4. Heard you gave a lecture at ABC recently. Hope that went well
  5. I hope you are enjoying the season
  6. I hope you are enjoying your stay at ABC
  7. I trust you all are doing fine
  8. I trust you are doing well

 

Ask for some information or making a request

  • Could you please let me know if you are attending the conference today?
  • Could you please let me know if you will be available tomorrow for a short meeting?
  • Could you possibly fix a meeting with the finance team?
  • Could you possibly help me arrange a meeting with your Manager?
  • I would appreciate if you could please reply before 23rd August
  • Please let me know how much the whole arrangement is going to cost us
  • This sounds great. Do let me know what I am supposed to inform the dealers
  • That is not what I hoped for. What should I tell my manager?
  • I would also like to know if you will provide transport facility to and from the venue for the conference.
  • I read your email. I was wondering if you could come and see me next week.
  • There is a slight change in the schedule. Would you mind coming a little early to help us rearrange the presentation?
  • Do you think you can connect me with John?
  • Get back to me as soon as possible

A simple letter of acknowledgement

  • Thank you for your inquiry about the new tools we are using to do the analysis. One of us will contact you tomorrow and give you a full detail on how we are using this tool.

Thank you again for writing to us.

  • Thank you for checking in. I am glad that you are curious about the information on the report. Could you possibly let me know a good time to call you?

Looking forward to hear from you.

What is a good way to remind someone to reply to your email?

This could be a little tricky. Sometimes, some people are very busy and your email or your work is not a priority for them. Constant reminders or a rude tone can tick people off. Sometimes we are unaware that the recipient was not in town for a few days while we were waiting for their reply. When they come back and see rude emails they might not feel good about working on what you have sent. In some cases, it could be a genuine mistake that he/she missed your email.

We should always use a tone that suggests that you know how busy they are. Yet, you need to grab their attention.

  • Hope this mail finds you in good health. I had sent you an email regarding…… a few days back. Have you had a chance to look at it yet?
  • I was wondering if you have had a chance to look at the email attached below. (Mention why it is important. For eg: I would like to send Mr. X an update on this one today. OR Mr. X inquired about it today OR Mr. X needs it tomorrow for a meeting)
  • Hope you had a good weekend. I had sent you an email on Saturday. Please let me know about this when you get the chance.
  • We had sent you an invoice earlier this week. Please let us know about it when you get a chance. I understand you are busy with the new launch campaign. Hope it is going as per your expectations.

Sending some information or offering to help

  1. No problem. We are willing to arrange another meeting with the dealers.
  2. That won’t be necessary. We would be glad to send you another copy of the invoice if need be.
  3. I regret to inform that I won’t be able to attend your seminar tomorrow.
  4. I regret to inform you that I won’t be able to help you with this. You will have to speak with ……. I can connect you with him/her.
  5. I will surely be able to help you with that. Would you mind sending the file to me?
  6. Please do let me know if I can be of further assistance.
  7. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our team, should you need further information/ assistance.

Complaints

Here is another tricky ‘How do I put this across?’ situation. Remember, even though you are complaining, you should use a tone that will no intimidate the recipient. You need them to acknowledge your dissatisfaction and work better towards fulfilling your wish. At the same time, you cannot be too soft; they need to know you are upset.

  1. I am writing to express my dissatisfaction regarding your service….
  2. I would like to know how you or your company can compensate for the loss we have incurred due to your negligence.
  3. I wish to receive a full refund and compensation for the damages done.
  4. I regret to inform you that I was not satisfied with your product.
  5. I regret to inform you that your product was defective when we received it today from the delivery boy. Please arrange for a replacement as soon as possible.
  6. I regret to inform you that your performance on this project was not satisfactory. Let us discuss on how you can improve upon you skills.
  7. I am sorry to say that you’re late with the project delivery. By when can we expect it?
  8. I hope you don’t mind me saying that the candidate you had recommended was not at all suitable for the job.

How to apologize without sounding desperate for forgiveness?

  1. We will make sure that this will not happen again in the future.
  2. I promise it won’t happen again
  3. I am afraid I will not be able to join you for this meeting. Please fill me in later.
  4. I am sorry, but I can’t make it to the meeting. Fill me in later? Thanks!
  5. Please let us know how we can compensate for your losses.
  6. Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay.
  7. I am really sorry for the delay

Attaching files – An alternative to boring PFA or ‘Attached with the mail’

  1. I am attaching my CV for your consideration
  2. I am attaching the time table for your perusal
  3. Could you send me the file in PDF, Word, Excel, PNG, JPEG……etc., format?
  4. I am afraid I am not able to open the attachment you sent me. Could you please send it again?
  5. Please find attached the file you requested
  6. I am sending you the art work as an attachment
  7. I can’t seem to open the attachment in my computer. May be you can send me the file in ______ format.

Respond to a critical email from your Boss

Ideally, it is best to not reply to a critical email by an email. It is difficult to gauge a person’s emotion via email. The matter might not be as severe as it seems while reading the email. It is easy to get into a trap of replying to the email too emotionally. Try and have a one-to-one conversation with your boss. You can also respond in a phone call. Do ask questions to clarify what he/she really meant and what he/she wants you to do about it. And if you can’t do both then what choice do we have left?

  1. I will get on with it right away.
  2. I have wanted to discuss the same with you for some time now. Can we have a meeting in an hour?
  3. I am sorry. It won’t happen again.
  4. I am sorry. I will get on with it as soon as I get the data from …..
  5. I have not been able to solve this on my own. I might need your help with this. I should have come to you earlier.
  6. I have not been able to focus on X project because of X2 project. I will get on with it asap.
  7. I understand your concern but I had mentioned earlier that I have been pulled into another project. Please do not worry. I will look into this matter as soon as possible.

Reply to an appreciation email

Some of us are experts in handing grievances and complaint emails but it can become a little awkward to respond to praise at work. It is even more difficult if you are not used to genuine appreciation from your boss.

  1. Thank you very much
  2. Thanks!
  3. Thank you for recognizing my efforts
  4. Many thanks!
  5. Really grateful for the opportunity
  6. Really grateful for the support, guidance and encouragement
  7. Your appreciation means a lot to me.
  8. Thank you for your kind words
  9. Thank you very much. Rest assured that I will continue to do my best at work and support our team
  10. I received your email yesterday and I would like to sincerely thank you for your appreciation.

I hope you all find this handy. If you have any more suggestion or want to cover a situation that I have not covered already please do write in.

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Child-like Curiosity

Do you remember the time when life was simple? Do you remember the time when you thought anything in the world is possible? A rainy day was a perfectly good day to play outside and jump in the puddle; knowing you are going to get it from your mother. You were not afraid your clothes will get dirty. You were not afraid that you will fall sick.

When something as simple as Rs 5. worth chocolate from a visitor would make your day. Did you care about the cavity in your tooth? You cared more that you will have to share it with your sibling. Yet, you used to end up sharing it with them. Were you ever worried about scrapped elbow, bruised knee, bleeding teeth?

One little thing would light up your day. One close friend was all you needed to be happy and feel important. If dad got you a toy (not necessarily your favourite), it was the best day of your life; no matter what had happened before or after that. It was the best day ever, every time! You used to be so enthusiastic about an activity that you never cared about the consequences.

Don’t you just wish to collect all these memories, the enthusiasm in a bottle, shake it up and drink it all up, so that you may be like that again? So that you can cheer your adult, responsible life for once, with all the innocence and purity? We often try to take a vacation, go out of town to de-stress ourselves and mostly stress ourselves more to decide where to go, how to go and the other details. Instead, in our daily life if we can have a child-like curiosity, won’t it be great? Can’t we be innovative in what we do in our daily lives? At least, dare to dream and ask questions, no one can think of. Does it strike a chord? Do you know someone who fits the description? I bet it would be a 5 – 6 yrs old kid.

How ridiculous? I am 40 yrs old, how can think like a 5 year old? Choose a number, your age. It is your choice. I started at 21. You can start whenever you want. I have compiled a list of (silly) ideas. I am not saying I have done them all. But I wish to!

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Don’t be satisfied before you get an answer – If there is something you are curious about, find the answer. Do not settle for ‘because it is so’, or ‘because it is like that’ for an answer. Be persistent, not irritating though, till you are satisfied with the answer.

Ignore people who say, “You can’t do it” – They simply don’t know. They have never tried it themselves. So how can they tell you that you can’t? Even if they have tried and succeeded what makes you limit your chances to try the same thing? If you can do it, so can I.

Each day is new and brings endless possibilities – Look at each day as today you can make some thing possible.

Be flexible – Remember how kids change their minds easily? It can be irritating sometimes but it is irritating for you, not the kid. He is happy with his change of mind.

If past was tough, forget about it – Yes, we fail all the time and every time you have failed, it seems tougher. But everyday is a new start. Could be a lot easier today than yesterday because you already know the monster you are facing.

Cry – I cry all the time. I cry when I am too happy, I cry when I am angry and I cry when I am heartbroken. I get the best sleep once I have cried it all out. Some days are more difficult than others and the constant need to put up a strong face can get on you. It is okay to cry. Yes, even for men.

Do nothing– If sometimes you have nothing to do, do not stress over it. Doing nothing is the most difficult thing to do. How many times have you purposely switched your music off and looked out of the window of a bus? Or just sit in a room on a sofa with no phone in hand, TV switched off, no newspaper; just sit.

Assume you will do great at a new task – Half the war is won when you are not scared of new challenges. Playing a musical instrument, take up a course, dance, sing, it could be anything.

Get yourself a piggy bank – Remember the joy when the jar starts to become heavy over a period of time? Save small. Put the coins in. Once it is full, buy yourself an ice cream. It is the same money you had, just out of a piggy bank. So much better!

Surround yourself with colours – Didn’t you have a favourite colour as a kid? You used to end up buying something just because it was that colour. Surround yourself with your favourite colour. It lifts your mood up.

Sit on the floor and eat – Most Indian families still do that because it is a custom or some families do not have the furniture. What I am talking about is sitting cross-legged and enjoying your meal. You can sit cross legged on a chair as well. I am short. So, at times, I sit cross legged on a chair, in office as well. It gives you a different kind of comfort.

Make a mess in kitchen – Most of us women aspire to be wonderful cooks. With cooking what is more important is the cleanliness of the kitchen after you have cooked a delicious meal. Sometimes, just don’t bother. As long as you have enough space in the kitchen, let it mess up.

Tell your parents that you love them – They are the two people in the world you have whom you take granted for, the most. Of course, you love your parents! Won’t they love to hear it from you once?

Share a meal – Do you remember sharing your lunch with your classmates? Mom used to pack 1 dish. You used to have 7-8 different kinds of food for lunch. Every friend’s tiffin was famous for that one dish! Mine was idli chutney. No one can beat my mom at that.

Make friends with work people – You spend most of your time at work. It will be great to know more about them than what project they are on. They are people, after all.

Lastly….happy thoughts! Think of a lot of happy thoughts. Spot a bird, pretend you can understand a puppy’s expression, look at the wide blue sky, get drenched in the rain, drink a cup of hot cocoa, share, do a good deed, play with a baby, help a friend/stranger, listen to someone, talk silly, dance, and laugh. These things are my happy thoughts. I am glad to share them with you!

And if you have more to add to my list you are most welcome. I can use a longer list before I run out of ideas!

Love Marriage vs Arranged Marriage – Indian Women’s Dilemma

This tug of war has been in India for ages. Thanks to Bollywood movies of 80s and 90s there has been some change in people’s mindset. The typical story of a girl and a boy falling in love and parents’ refusal due to age old hostility between two families or the economical background or just because it is a love marriage. Bollywood movies have made Indians more acceptable of marriage outside caste as well.

Yet, today every girl who is of ‘marriageable age’ has this question. Love marriage or Arranged marriage?

I am a working woman in her mid 20s and I have a bunch of single lady friends about the same age currently pondering upon the same thing. Some who already are in love know what they want but they fear to tell their parents about it. Some are really hassled thinking what would be a good choice. There is no real data here. It is about human emotions, feelings and willing to compromise and adjust with their partners. So what do women really choose? And on what basis? Also, there is this pressure when people say “When are going to get married?” It doesn’t leave you with enough time to think. You are managing your life in a city and there is constant buzz in your house about when is this girl going to settle. The thing is, women don’t really have a choice sometimes.

How much ever you want to avoid the marriage topic it will come back. And every time with added frustration. Worse is a situation where, ‘When are you getting married?” actually means, “Do you want a love marriage or arranged?” How does one decide? Love just happens, no? You don’t decide to fall in love. And if you do want a love marriage, you have someone in mind, they think you are just too young to decide who want to spend the rest of your life with. What happened to democracy? Hehehe.. That’s too much. But girls will agree with me.

Let’s see some facts- Although you do not fall in love based on data let us see some figures around arranged marriage that UNICEF had published some time ago.

Global divorce rate for arranged  marriage – 6%

Divorce rate in India – 1.1%

Am I trying to say that arranged marriage works? Am I trying to say that a match found for you by your parents can’t be wrong? Not really. But I am also not saying that all arranged marriages are forced. A lot of them are just meant to be. They find love after marriage or maybe in between their engagement and marriage. I am also not saying that love marriages don’t work. Two people who have decided to love each other, support each other can live happily together without any hassles.

The Big Question! The question still remains. Love or Arranged? Have anyone of you been able to answer this with conviction? Let me try and attempt to justify my choice here. I would prefer an arranged marriage. Why not? As an Indian woman, I have grown up with values and discipline that puts this thing in our psyche that if you are falling in love, you are breaking the rules. Culturally, I would not be accepted if I choose a path that is not meant to take. Does that mean I will blindly walk on the path I am pushed on? No.

Today, even in arranged marriages, women have a right to say no. All that the parents are expecting is that we see guys whose background they have already checked. For nothing but security. I do not have to marry the first guy who walks in with a party hat. You can have a balance of both, emotional needs and security. Indian women today have a choice of refusing the prospects on any grounds. So boys, beware!

I know a couple of friends who are rejecting guys for things like he doesn’t have a car, he is not settled in US, he is too tall, too short, too fair, too dark etc etc.  and god knows what all. It might sound bizarre. No one is perfect right? But since women these days are so qualified that they can’t compromise on somethings.

All I am trying to say here is. You can marry the first or hundred and first person you meet. Your parents are and will be worried about you. They might expect a lot of things from you as a grown up but you are their child, for life. If they are letting you choose from whatever prospect list they have, why not give it a try? You might just fall in love with someone there. As for people already in love, girls I am with you too! After all, the choice is ours.

How to upgrade Ubuntu from 10.10 to Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal”?

They say it is better late than never. So I have finally decided that I will upgrade my Ubuntu from version 10.10 to version 11.04. I have a heard some amazing reviews but couldn’t get myself to do this earlier because it takes some time to upgrade, and I did not have enough time. So then, we come to the point. How do I upgrade Ubuntu 10.10 to Ubuntu 11.04?

Here are the steps:

Step 1: Press Alt+ F2 OR GO TO Applications

Step 2 : Type Update manager in the search bar

Step 3: Find the button “Update” in there and click it. Ubuntu will now automatically download all the packages and install them for you. You just have to sit back and relax as you get a makeover for Ubuntu!

Summer is here! Tips to beat the heat.

Summer is finally here. It is time to take out your Scarf, cap and sunscreen. Seems summers in Mumbai have started a bit too early and heat is already getting onto me. Although, I am not the cautious kinds, I find a desperate need to follow some tips to keep myself away from heat. No matter where you live in Mumbai, the energy crunch will affect you all summer. The most important thing is to do is to listen to your body.

Here are a few tips to stay hydrated and cool.

1)    Rest Periodically: If your work demands you to travel then take sufficient rest under the tree-shade or at any such cooler places. This will keep you relaxed and hydrated. Once you feel alright and recharged, you may carry on.

2)    Change Your Wardrobe: It is important that you dress in the light coloured clothes in summer. Preferably wear cotton and avoid synthetic clothes.

3)    Use Sunscreen: Use sunscreen of SPF 15 or 30. Choose products that protect you from UVA/UVB rays. Br careful during cloudy days in summers as it may cause painful sunburns. To deal with such weather, apply sunscreen on sun exposed areas such as face, arms, feet, lips neck and back of the neck.

4)    Carry an Umbrella: I personally do not follow this for 2 reasons, one because I do not like the idea of carrying an extra luggage and secondly, sunscreen is good enough for my skin. Advice precisely for those who have extra sensitive skin. “Carry an umbrella or a big scarf”.

5)    Drink: In summer body dehydrates faster than usual. Drink a lot of liquids like water, fruit juices or vegetable juices. Avoid cold fizzy drinks for the health reasons. Even in summer cold drinks, alcohol and caffeine won’t do you any good. If for a longer stretch you are busy indoors than drink at least 3 litres of water. If you are traveling, drink 4-5 litres of water. Do not leave home without a medium-sized water bottle. Keep yourself hydrated and replace your usual mid-day and evening snack with the healthy fruit juices. Take extra care of yourself and exercise regularly.

6)    Citrus fruits: While traveling Keep some citrus fruit handy. Citrus fruits help you to stay hydrated. If you feel hungry at the middle of the day, have an orange or a Mousambi. It will relieve hungry pangs and keeps you fresh.

7)    Avoid oily food: Junk foods are oily and it’s harmful for our body. These fast food items reduce the level of water in our body, so in summer, avoid oily food and eat light.

8)    Vehicles: Never sit inside the car under the sun, even if the windows are open. The car heats up and can lead to dehydration. And, likewise also, do not leave your pets or kids in the car in this manner.

9)    Work Schedule: Schedule the task that demands extra physical activities, for the cooler part of the day, when weather is relatively cooler. Heat and the humidity will leave you with no energy to complete the rest of the work. If you are on a picnic, make sure you are not to exposed to the sun for a long.

10) Sunglasses: Use sunglasses that protect your eyes from UVA/UVB rays.

11) Foot care: Our foot carries us everywhere and we seldom forget to take sufficient care of them. Wear shoes with a thicker sole with comfortable socks that covers your feet. While walking, if you feel your feet has a burning sensation, then inspect immediately, simply sit and remove your socks, shoes and check it. Do not pour water on it. Apply bandage on the tender parts and let it dry.

12) Eat Light and Sleep Well: Get plenty of sleep and rest as and whenever you may. Eat light food and choose items which has high volume of water and low on fat i.e. fruits, vegetables, Etc. Avoid use of oven, toaster and microwave.

13) Keep it cool: Sit under the fan or in an air-conditioned room. Splash water on your face and sit under the fan. Use ice to wet a piece of cloth and wipe your face, arms and other exposed parts of your body. Take a cool shower using refreshing soap and body wash to recharge your energy!

I wish your experience in this season is pleasant and you make most of it.

Have yourselves a happy, happy summer!

My hair, my pride

How important my hair is to me? It is like asking how important is mane to a lion. I won’t be wrong if I compare my hair to a lion’s mane. It is not a bunch of filamentous biomaterial that hangs to my scalp. I take care of it not because I have to or the hell will break lose, but because I love them. They are my pride, as I mentioned before, like a mane to a lion.

When I was a kid, my mother had put loads of effort to keep my hair nourished and shiny. Oil, reetha, shikakai and what not. My love for my hair is deeply rooted in my childhood. Now too I take good care of them. I put a scarf on my head when I sit near a window seat in trains and buses. I oil my hair every alternate day without fail. Wash them with mild shampoo and condition it. I do not blow dry it. I let them dry the natural way and do not tie them up tightly. I do not use thin rubber bands to tie my hair. I have my hand brushing though my hair all day, so that I make sure there are no tangles. I sometimes visit washroom only to see how my hair looks. And I am very possessive about them. No one gets to touch. No means no. Strictly forbidden. Teehee! I remember I have hit boys in schools for pulling my pony tail. Now you know how possessive I am about them.

I haven’t cut my hair short since a very long time now. My salon guy also knows now that he is to ‘keep the length’. I love my hair so much that I almost worship them. They are like babies to me. I nurture them, take care of them, as much as I can. All my friends know this and know this good. Blame the stars if you want. I am a Leo by sun. Now you know where the traits come from.

What do I get in return? That is a question in vain. My hair are so lustrous, long and strong, that they make me confident. I know I look good as far as my hair is looking nice. All boils down to my hair and I can do anything to keep them attached to my head and healthy. So that I can let them down and walk around proudly even in a crowded hall. Thank you hair for making me a confident young lady. Thank you.

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