Email replies target training

Polite emails: Hamburger Approach

Do you send polite emails?  Each day at work we send and receive many emails.  The longer you spend writing and replying to emails, the less time you have for other important tasks.  Why should you waste time trying to be polite in emails when all you need is some quick information from someone or to give them a quick answer?  The answer is simple: relationships.  Building lasting relationships is key in business, and how you write your emails can help.  Taking a few extra seconds to show professional and personal respect can go a long way.  One easy way is by keeping in mind the ‘Hamburger Approach’ when writing your emails.  You may have heard of this method for giving feedback as a manager.  A hamburger has three main parts: the top bun, the meat, and the bottom bun.  Here is how you can use these parts to create polite emails.

3 Parts of the Hamburger Approach for polite emails

1.  Polite introduction (top bun)

The goal here is to start off your email in a positive way.  This is especially helpful if you are delivering unpleasant news to your recipient.  Jumping right into your subject can be read as being very direct and abrupt.

  • I hope all is well today.
  • Thanks for your email Tim. (when replying to an email)
  • I hope you had a good holiday/weekend/business trip.

2.  Information/Request/Update (meat)

This is where you discuss the main point of your email.  It could be a quick answer, a request, etc.

  • Regarding the management meeting on Tuesday…
  • That proposal sounds good.  Let’s meet…
  • I am writing about the changes to our…

3.  Polite close (bottom bun)

The last part finishes the email in a positive way.  Without a phrase, like the ones below, your email will seem incomplete and unfinished.  This could lead to a negative impression for the recipient.

  • Thanks for your time and have a good day.
  • Feel free to contact me with any further questions.
  • I am looking forward to seeing you next week at the meeting.

Example of a polite email using the Hamburger Approach



I hope all is well today and you had a good weekend.  I am writing about the change in the meeting agenda for our conference next week.  Could you please inform the others about the new schedule before the end of the week?  This is important to make sure everyone is prepared.  Thanks for your help.  I’m looking forward to seeing you next week in Boston.



You don’t have to use this approach with every email.  If you are emailing back and forth all day on a topic, this isn’t necessary.  It is important for the first or second email in an email exchange.  Keep this Hamburger Approach in mind and it will help you write polite emails.  Let us know if you have any other suggestions in the comments area below.  Want more help with polite emails or to improve your writing overall at work?  Click here for information.