Wednesday, September 11, 2013

5 Tips for Sympathy Notes To Your Boss

SHE SIGNS YOUR PAYCHECK, BUT...

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How do you feel about writing the boss a condolence note?


 I appreciate some distance between work and personal life though clearly, who we are is a blend of both.  The boss, your supervisor, the team leader-- has family and will lose family.

Here are my 5 tips for expressing condolences in a professional relationship:

  1. Use simple stationery.  Do not use company letterhead but personalized business stationery is fine. Do not use a legal pad or a greeting card covered in roses. 
  2. If there is a printed message on a card, it should be brief  and kind but not syrupy.
  3. Find out and use the name of the deceased: it's okay to ask the person you are writing to, "what is your mother's name?" (note the use of the present tense "is"!)
  4. Some useful Keys To Comfort expressions are:  "this must be a difficult time," "I hope you are having a chance to share stories and memories with others in the family," "many people are probably thinking about ______, and how she touched their lives." 
  5. A simple closing-- 'Sincerely' or 'Take Care' is appropriate and sufficient.
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If you know your boss well, you will know if other caring components are fitting. You do not need to offer future personal support. 

And, if YOU are the boss, set a wonderful example, and write a note to your bereaved employee. One of my brothers is the very busy president of Ithaca College; when he learns of a loss, he takes a few moments to handwrite a meaningful condolence. IT MATTERS!

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