Wednesday, September 11, 2013

5 Tips for Sympathy Notes To Your Boss



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.
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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