As my school webmaster, all of the form emails from the website come to me. I then forward them onto the person that can answer the question, and I always reply to the email as well, usually with something along the lines of,
Thank you for your email. I’ve forwarded it onto __________, and I’m sure [he/she] will get back to you soon. Have a great day! – Aviva
With this webmaster/email job, I usually receive 50-100 emails a day, especially at the beginning of the year, so to help respond to all of them quickly, I often check my email at lunch and before and after school. Yesterday, I received one of these form emails from a new parent, and just like always, I forwarded the email along and replied to the mom.
Yesterday was a little bit different though, as when I checked my email again, the mom wrote me back and thanked me so much for the “personal and swift” reply. The thing that really captured my attention about her email was that she signed this follow-up message with her first name.
It seems like such a little thing, but when I communicate with parents (either in an email, on the phone, or during face-to-face discussions), I always introduce myself as, “Aviva.” Usually parents then follow-up and introduce themselves by their first name too. With something as simple as a name, the interaction changes.
To me, a first name helps me form a connection with someone. I’m saying to that person that we are equals, and that I value what he/she has to say as much as he/she values what I have to say. I want to form this bond with parents, as ultimately we’re working together for the same thing: what’s best for their child.
Please don’t get me wrong here. I know many fabulous teachers that always introduce themselves as Miss, Ms., Mrs., or Mr., and they still have wonderful connections with parents. In my experience though, this comes faster when we get on a first name basis.
What do you think? What’s the benefit of using your first name versus your last name, and what do you choose to do? I’m very interested in hearing your thoughts on this.