Sarah Sands: More email kisses would oil the wheels at work x x x

Share
Related Topics

A friend of mine, a clever, civilised man, once worked as a private banker to Fred Goodwin, during his reign of madness at Royal Bank of Scotland. My friend's field was not actually customer relationships, but Goodwin insisted that he would deal only with the most senior person in the bank where my friend worked.

It was a difficult personal relationship, partly because Goodwin had no understanding of the choreography of normal, social conversation. One day, my friend's PA sent out a letter to Goodwin that was, accidentally, a first draft, and carried a few of her red pen corrections of her grammatical mistakes. Goodwin exploded into a terrifying rage and told my friend that his career in banking was finished. In fact, he went on to head a bigger bank, while Goodwin... well we know what happened.

I was reminded of this during David Hare's play about the financial crisis, The Power of Yes. A character revelation about Goodwin was that he did not think that he had done anything wrong, although he agreed to apologise. A colossal self-belief, an inability to empathise and a hideous temper – these are not exclusively male vices, but they are associated with alpha male bankers. Let us not forget the staff motivational talk on tackling rivals by the former chief executive of Lehman Brothers, Dick Fuld: "I want to reach down their throats and rip out their heart and eat it – before they die."

If a woman had made the same speech, it might have gone more like this: "I know you're all working hard, and some of you have half-term coming up, but we just have to push harder [a childbirth metaphor] to be one of the companies that survives." She might finish with a phrase used long before it was appropriated by George Osborne: "Remember, we are all in this together."

According to a new book called Code Switching: How to Talk So Men Will Listen, women's office emails are as different from men's as Sylvia Plath is from Norman Mailer. Male emails are short and precise. Women's emails are longer, more personal and discursive. I would guess they are more likely to end with kisses.

Actually, the length and discursive quality of my emails probably depends more on how busy I am. But women do put more thought into office emails. They are more sensitive to tone and interpretation. A man might write: "Kate. Are you at the gym this lunch time or at your desk? When you are free we can do the figures."

A woman would see an ambiguity. Is it slacking or admirable to go to the gym? Is there sarcasm in the phrase "When you are free"? She might amend the email to the following: "Hi John, let me know when's a good time to go through the figures. I'm very impressed to see your gym kit by your desk! I thought it was a productive meeting in Luton yesterday. Best wishes, Kate xx"

In her concern for the self-esteem of her colleague, has the woman sacrificed her own authority or star quality? As for kisses, I try never send them to colleagues, although I persist outside the office. Of course, once you have started, you cannot stop – it is a bit like nuclear proliferation.

According to one of the alpha males in The Power of Yes, fear and greed remain the great motivators in the City, and need only to be correctly aligned. Yet now that very few companies can offer financial incentives, a female approach may be more recession-friendly. It's not a time for ripping out hearts, but for conducting patient physiotherapy.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Actor Zac Efron  

Keep your shirt on Zac – we'd all be better for it

Howard Jacobson
Author of Adrian Mole: Sue Townsend  

Errors and Omissions: A protagonist is one thing that doesn’t travel in pairs

Guy Keleny
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit