Even after the advent of social media and improvements in text messaging, email is still the mode of communication that continues to prevail in the professional realm. The ability to give direction, put out fires, and more without being face-to-face has enabled many businesses to use email as a productivity tool. However, there are times when professionalism goes out of the window, and etiquette rules are forgotten. Today, we will take a look at 27 email etiquette tips for business professionals.
1. Greetings and Send-offsI never start an email with the contents. An email always begins with a sound introduction or with the recipient's name. This will, in the beginning, let them know to whom they are speaking with. When you begin by acknowledging them by name (e.g. Hello, John Doe), you will let them know whom you intend on talking with. When you are done with an email, always finish by saying "Thanks" or "Cheers", to practice good etiquette and respect.
2. Know When to CallNot all communication has to occur through email. Once conversation begins to mention specifics, it may be wise to schedule a phone call—this can prevent misunderstandings and can even expedite your correspondence. It is also respectful to pick up the phone when a meeting, scheduled by email, is cancelled.
3. Mind Your PunctuationProfessionalism involves knowing how to mind your punctuation. In a standard email correspondence, you should use periods and question marks about 95% of the time. Leave exclamation points to when your conversation is light-hearted, and you're familiar with the recipient.
4. The Clock is TickingWhen dealing with business, never keep them waiting. As the saying goes, "time is money". You should never let a recipient wait more than two days for your reply. Just like a phone call, waiting on an email can hold up progress on whatever project you are attempting to establish. After all, isn't that why you're emailing and not using snail mail?
5. Write it RightGrammar and spelling should be two considerations when emailing in a professional environment. Even though the content is the star of the email, ensuring that your grammar is in check allows the business acquaintance to know that you are taking the conversation seriously. Most email clients have spelling and grammar checks, so use them!
6. Consider Company CultureLet's be honest—while grammar and tone should be professional, we must still consider the companies that we are contacting. Inner business emails between more relaxed companies will of course be a bit different from, let's say, the White House. While minding your grammar, continue to give off an approachable vibe while emailing.
7. Engineer the Perfect Subject LineThe first thing your recipient sees is the subject line. Frankly, they will discern the importance of an email by a subject line before reading its contents. Make sure you leave a great impression by being mindful of capitalization, being concise, and to the point.
8. Reply vs. Reply-AllNothing is more embarrassing than sending a mass email that was intended for only one recipient. This is the result of an email that began with multiple recipients. When replying, you will have the option to "Reply"—which emails the sender—or "Reply-All", which sends your message to everyone the original message was sent to. Double check before sending, or you'll be sorry.
9. Consider The Privacy of OthersThere will be instances when you'll have to send business emails to multiple recipients who may not know each other. The recipient's email address is added to the "To:" section in average emails, but in multiple recipient emails, you should add the addresses to the "BCC" or Blind Carbon Copy section, to prevent others from viewing recipient addresses.
10. Tailor a SignatureUnlike a greeting or send-off, an email signature is automatically added to the bottom of a message, where you can add a small biography and contact information. This doesn't replace a quality greeting, but it does allow a new acquaintance to learn more about you and to know where to get in contact with you.
11. Go in Vacation ModeSeveral times a year, during vacation, I usually find myself separated from my email. As seen in tip #4, time is of the essence, and it's rude to leave an email in your inbox unanswered. To alert individuals of my absence, I add an auto-responder (through Gmail, but also available on other clients) mentioning of why I'm gone and when I will return.
12. Be Mindful of LinksHackers have found ways to add viruses and malware to attachments and links. When forwarding emails, ensure that the links and attachments are safe. Also, reduce the number of chain messages you forward and never send any from an unknown recipient.
13. Create a TL:DR SummaryTL:DR is an acronym standing for "Too long, didn't read". It's quite blunt and is the case for many busy business acquaintances who simply are too busy to read long email conversations. For this reason, when forwarding or periodically when replying to conversations, summarize previous points in bullets to keep recipients up-to-speed on email contents.
14. Job Search Tip: Resume and Cover LetterWhen searching for a job, email etiquette is of the utmost importance. When replying to a job board, always ensure that you include your resume and cover letter. By default, these should be attachments unless they explicitly are against them.
15. Ask Before AttachingThe reason companies don't like large attachments is because companies are given a specified storage space they pay for. Your large attachment eats up their storage allowance. Before sending a large attachment, or multiple ones, always ask for permission from the recipient.
16. When is Irony Appropriate?Irony is a popular form of comedy for most people. However, in a business setting, you should shy away from it. Irony in any written form can be misunderstood at best, and at worst be taken as offensive. Save the irony for emails within your company.
17. Rethink Your FontA company email isn't a PowerPoint presentation from your sixth grade English project: leave the fancy fonts for another time. Not only does it come off as unprofessional, some companies may not have the email clients that can present such fonts. Besides, who wants to read Edwardian Script font anyway?Professional Fonts to Use
- Times New Roman
- Book Antiqua
18. Documents Open for AllObscure file types can prevent companies from being able to open the attachments you send, which can slow down business operations and projects. Leave attachment file types to PDFs, .doc, .txt, or .jpeg. They usually are of a reasonable size and can be opened on most machines and operating systems.
19. Separate Work from PlayIt's not wise to use your company email to send personal messages to friends and relatives. Use your business email for colleagues and business acquaintances only, for two reasons: to maintain the professional nature of your inbox, and to limit wasteful use of email storage space.
20. Ensure Your Email Wasn't TrashedIf you haven't heard back from a receiver, chances are that they are busy. Inquiring on whether or not they got your message could make it worse, but there are times when emails are quite pertinent. Wait a week to a week-and-a-half if time allows, and if you still don't have a reply, call them or dispatch another email.
21. Make Your Intentions ClearWhen recipients only have a minute or two to read an email, you should make your message as concise and to the point as possible. Provide an outline in the beginning of the email of what you expect from the recipient before going a bit in depth.
22. Connect Email to Your PhoneTo prevent recipients from waiting, connect your business email to your phone to ensure that you are able to reply to them in a timely manner. In the settings of most smart phones, you are able to adjust your signature.
23. Inner Company AcronymsWhile acronyms are ill-advised to new acquaintances, creating company acronyms between co-workers can be a clever way to ensure that they understand the importance or intent of the message. Acronyms like "NRN" (No Reply Needed) can allow colleagues to know what messages are urgent and what can wait.
24. Extend What's in EmailIt's easy to blame forgetting or misunderstanding a meeting request given through an email. Most email clients don't have alarm systems. This means it's your responsibility to apply outside the inbox what is relevant (creating calendar alerts for meetings, etc) to be productive.
25. Consider Time DifferencesIt can be aggravating to request a call or meeting through email and not hear back within a timely manner. It is necessary, however, to ensure that this isn't due to time zone differences. If you are requesting a call from an Australian acquaintance and you're in New York, ensure time zone differences are worked out.
26. Check Your CalendarTo prevent unnecessary back and forth emailing, it is wise to be mindful of traditions and holidays in the culture or religion of your recipient. If you are in a country where Christmas isn't widely celebrated, it may not be wise to schedule a meeting for December 24th when the rest of your location is on business as usual.
27. Inform Employees on EtiquetteIt's fine and dandy to follow all of these email etiquette tips yourself, but if you are the only one following them, it still gives your business a bad image. Share valuable email etiquette tips with your co-workers to ensure the business name is kept sound.Let us know in the comments below of a moment when your email etiquette left a good impression on the recipient. Also, let us know when email etiquette was tossed out the window, and its outcome.
- ► 2017 (172)
- ► 2016 (959)
- ► 2015 (1034)
09/07 - 09/14
- 27 Email Etiquette Tips for Professionals
- Health Benefits of Garlic
- Shall I Quit?
- Story: Dine Out with another woman
- Time Pass Cartoons :)
- 12 Short Stories Worth Reading
- How to Raise Happy Kids: 10 Steps
- Challenge Your Brain with These 9 Riddles
- Who You Love is a Mirror Image
- Story: A Cry for Help
- 25 Ways to Ask Your Kids 'So How Was School Today?...
- Excel Tip: Replace formulas with values Quickly
- Story: The last wishes of Alexander the Great.
- Anger Management: 10 Tips to Tame Your Temper
- Story: Borrowing The Pen
- Story: The Pearls
- Story: The Whisper
- 5 passwords you should never use
- 7 Qualities of Great Spirits
- Story: My Friend and His Pen
- How Sitting Too Long Affects the Body
- Story: The missing watch
- Gossips and Rumors- How to React
- Story: Finding Happiness
- Story: Do Good Have Good
- Notice to Employees :)
- Story: The Dear, Lion and Forest Fire
- Futuristic Floating City In China
- Pass the Honey, Honey :)
- Top 10 mistakes in Bathroom Design
- ▼ 09/07 - 09/14 (30)
- ► 2013 (802)
- ► 2012 (882)
- ► 2011 (188)
- ► 2010 (90)
- ► 2009 (58)
Life is tough but you have to face the challenges in this small journey which is called life. Different ups and downs come, sometimes the situations get worse but we never think that if there were no sorrows in life then would the life would be adventurous or enjoyable. I personally don't think so. Because the happiness always come after a hard struggle.
She said I Love You but I know this other Woman loves you and would Love to spend some Time with You.
The other Woman that my Wife wanted me to visit was my MOTHER , who has been a Widow for 19 years, but the demands of my Work and my three Children had made it possible to visit her only occasionally.
That night I called to Invite her to go out for Dinner and a Movie.
'What's wrong, are you well,' she asked?
My Mother is the type of Woman who suspects that a Late Night Call or a Surprise Invitation is a sign of Bad News.
'I thought that it would be pleasant to be with you,' I responded.
'Just the two of us.'
She thought about it for a moment, and then said, 'I would like that very much.'
That Friday after work, as I drove over to pick her up I was a bit Nervous.When I arrived at her House, I noticed that she too seemed to be Nervous about our Date. She waited in the Door with her Coat on. She had Curled her Hair and was wearing the Dress that she had worn to Celebrate her last Wedding Anniversary.
She smiled from a face that was as Radiant as an Angel's.
'I told my Friends that I was going to go out with My Son, and they were impressed, ' She said, as she got into the Car.They can't wait to hear about our meeting'. We went to a Restaurant that, although not Elegant, was very Nice and Cozy. My Mother took my Arm as if She were the First Lady.
After we sat down, I had to read the Menu. Large Print.
Half way through the entries, I lifted my eyes and saw Mom sitting there staring at me. A Nostalgic Smile was on her Lips.
'It was I who used to have to Read the Menu when you were Small,' She said.'Then it's Time that you Relax and let me Return the Favor,' I responded.
During the Dinner, we had an Agreeable Conversation, nothing Extra-ordinary, but catching up on recent Events of each other's Life. We talked so much that we missed the Movie.
As we arrived at her House later, She said, 'I'll go out with you again, but only if you let me invite you.' I agreed.
'How was your Dinner Date?' asked My Wife when I got Home.
'Very Nice. Much more so than I could have Imagined,' I answered.
A few days later, my Mother died of a Massive Heart Attack.
It happened so suddenly that I didn't have Time to do anything for her.
Some time later, I received an Envelope with a Copy of a Restaurant Receipt from the same place Mother and I had dined.
An Attached Note Said: 'I paid this Bill in Advance. I wasn't sure that I could be there; But nevertheless, I paid for Two Plates
One for You and the Other for Your Wife. You will never know what that Night meant for Me. I Love You,My Son.'
At that moment, I understood the Importance of saying in Time:
'I LOVE YOU!' and to give our Loved Ones the Time that they Deserve.
Nothing in Life is more important than God and your Family .
Give them the Time they Deserve, because these Things cannot be Put Off till 'Some Other Time.'
Pass This Along To Everyone With An Aging Parent, To A Child, To An Adult, To Anyone With A Parent, And Most Importantly, To Someone You Truly Love.
2. A father's advice
3. The power of uniqueness.
4. Looking Back
7. LOOKING BACK
…happiness is a tremendous advantage in a world that emphasizes performance. On average, happy people are more successful than unhappy people at both work and love. They get better performance reviews, have more prestigious jobs, and earn higher salaries. They are more likely to get married, and once married, they are more satisfied with their marriage.
So looking at the science, what really works when it comes to raising happy kids?
Step 1: Get Happy Yourself
The first step to happier kids is, ironically, a little bit selfish.
How happy you are affects how happy and successful your kids are — dramatically.
Extensive research has established a substantial link between mothers who feel depressed and “negative outcomes” in their children, such as acting out and other behavior problems. Parental depression actually seems to cause behavioral problems in kids; it also makes our parenting less effective.
And this is not merely due to genetics.
…although the study did find that happy parents are statistically more likely to have happy children, it couldn’t find any genetic component.
So what’s the first step to being a happier you? Take some time each week to have fun with friends.
Because laughter is contagious, hang out with friends or family members who are likely to be laughing themselves. Their laughter will get you laughing too, although it doesn’t even need to in order to lighten your mood. Neuroscientists believe that hearing another person laugh triggers mirror neurons in a region of the brain that makes listeners feel as though they are actually laughing themselves.
More scientific methods for increasing your happiness here.
Step 2: Teach Them To Build Relationships
Nobody denies learning about relationships is important — but how many parents actually spend the time to teach kids how to relate to others?
(Just saying “Hey, knock it off” when kids don’t get along really doesn’t go far in building essential people skills.)
It doesn’t take a lot. It can start with encouraging kids to perform small acts of kindness to build empathy.
This not only builds essential skills and makes your kids better people, research shows over the long haul it makes them happier.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients who were trained to provide compassionate, unconditional positive regard for other MS sufferers through monthly fifteen-minute telephone calls “showed pronounced improvement in self-confidence, self-esteem, depression, and role functioning” over two years. These helpers were especially protected against depression and anxiety.
More on creating good relationships here.
Step 3: Expect Effort, Not Perfection
Note to perfectionist helicopter parents and Tiger Moms: cool it.
Relentlessly banging the achievement drum messes kids up.
Parents who overemphasize achievement are more likely to have kids with high levels of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse compared to other kids.
The research is very consistent: Praise effort, not natural ability.
The majority of the kids praised for their intelligence wanted the easier puzzle; they weren’t going to risk making a mistake and losing their status as “smart.” On the other hand, more than 90 percent of growth mind-set-encouraged kids chose a harder puzzle.
Why? Dweck explains: “When we praise children for the effort and hard work that leads to achievement, they want to keep engaging in that process. They are not diverted from the task of learning by a concern with how smart they might — or might not — look.”
More on praising correctly here.
Step 4: Teach Optimism
Want to avoid dealing with a surly teenager? Then teach those pre-teens to look on the bright side.
Ten-year-olds who are taught how to think and interpret the world optimistically are half as prone to depression when they later go through puberty.
Author Christine Carter puts it simply: “Optimism is so closely related to happiness that the two can practically be equated.”
She compares optimists to pessimists and finds optimists:
- Are more successful at school, work and athletics
- Are healthier and live longer
- End up more satisfied with their marriages
- Are less likely to deal with depression and anxiety
More on how to encourage optimism here.
Step 5: Teach Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is a skill, not an inborn trait.
Thinking kids will just “naturally” come to understand their own emotions (let alone those of others) doesn’t set them up for success.
A simple first step here is to “Empathize, Label and Validate” when they’re struggling with anger or frustration.
Molly: “I am SO SO SO MAD AT YOU.”
Me: “You are mad at me, very mad at me. Tell me about that. Are you also feeling disappointed because I won’t let you have a playdate right now?”
Molly: “YES!! I want to have a playdate right NOW.”
Me: “You seem sad.” (Crawling into my lap, Molly whimpers a little and rests her head on my shoulder.)
Relate to the child, help them identify what they are feeling and let them know that those feelings are okay (even though bad behavior might not be).
More on active listening and labeling (and how hostage negotiators use this) here.
Step 6: Form Happiness Habits
We’re on step 6 and it might seem like this is already a lot to remember for you — let alone for a child. We can overcome that with good habits.
Thinking through these methods is taxing but acting habitually is easy, once habits have been established.
How do you help kids build lasting happiness habits? Carter explains a few powerful methods backed by research:
- Stimulus removal: Get distractions and temptations out of the way.
- Make It Public: Establish goals to increase social support — and social pressure.
- One Goal At A Time: Too many goals overwhelms willpower, especially for kids. Solidify one habit before adding another.
- Keep At It: Don’t expect perfection immediately. It takes time. There will be relapses. That’s normal. Keep reinforcing.
More on developing good habits here.
Step 7: Teach Self-Discipline
Self-discipline in kids is more predictive of future success than intelligence — or most anything else, for that matter.
Yes, it’s that famous marshmallow test all over again. Kids who better resisted temptation went on to much better lives years later and were happier.
…preschoolers’ ability to delay gratification–to wait for that second marshmallow–predicts intelligence, school success, and social skills in adolescence. This is at least in part because self-discipline facilitates learning and information processing. In addition, self-disciplined kids cope better with frustration and stress and tend to have a greater sense of social responsibility. In other words, self-discipline leads not just to school success and sitting nicely at the dinner table but to greater happiness, more friends and increased community engagement.
What’s a good way to start teaching self-discipline? Help kids learn to distract themselves from temptation.
One way to do it is to obscure the temptation–to physically cover up the tempting marshmallow. When a reward is covered up, 75 percent of kids in one study were able to wait a full fifteen minutes for the second marshmallow; none of the kids was able to wait this long when the reward was visible.
More on increasing self-discipline here.
Step 8: More Playtime
We read a lot about mindfulness and meditation these days — and both are quite powerful.
Getting kids to do them regularly however can be quite a challenge. What works almost as well?
Most kids already practice mindfulness — fully enjoying the present moment — when they play. but kids today spend less time playing both indoors and out… All told, over the last two decades, children have lost eight hours per week of free, unstructured, and spontaneous play…
Playtime isn’t just goofing off. It’s essential to helping kids grow and learn.
Researchers believe that this dramatic drop in unstructured playtime is in part responsible for slowing kids cognitive and emotional development… In addition to helping kids learn to self-regulate, child-led, unstructured play (with or without adults) promoted intellectual, physical, social, and emotional well-being. Unstructured play helps children learn how to work in groups, to share, negotiate, resolve conflicts, regulate their emotions and behavior, and speak up for themselves.
No strict instructions are necessary here: Budget more time for your kids to just get outside and simply play.
More on the power of playing (for kids and adults) here.
Step 9: Rig Their Environment For Happiness
We don’t like to admit it, but we’re all very much influenced by our environment – often more than we realize.
Your efforts will be constrained by time and effort, while context affects us (and children) constantly.
What’s a simple way to better control a child’s surroundings and let your deliberate happiness efforts have maximum effect?
…research demonstrates a strong link between happiness and not watching television. Sociologists show that happier people tend to watch considerably less television than unhappy people. We don’t know whether TV makes people unhappy, or if already unhappy people watch more TV. But we do know that there are a lot of activities that will help our kids develop into happy, well-adjusted individuals. If our kids are watching TV, they aren’t doing those things that could be making them happier in the long run.
More non-television happiness activities are here.
Step 10: Eat Dinner Together
Sometimes all science does is validate those things our grandparents knew all along. Yes, family dinner matters.
This simple tradition helps mold better kids and makes them happier too.
Studies show that kids who eat dinner with their families on a regular basis are more emotionally stable and less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. They got better grades. they have fewer depressive symptoms, particularly among adolescent girls. And they are less likely to become obese or have an eating disorder. Family dinners even trump reading to your kids in terms of preparing them for school. And these associations hold even after researchers control for family connectedness…
More on the power of family dinners here.
Here are the ten steps:
- Get Happy Yourself
- Teach Them To Build Relationships
- Expect Effort, Not Perfection
- Teach Optimism
- Teach Emotional Intelligence
- Form Happiness Habits
- Teach Self-Discipline
- More Playtime
- Rig Their Environment For Happiness
- Eat Dinner Together
We’re often more open to new methods when it comes to work and careers, but ignoring tips when it comes to family is a mistake.
The most important work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes.
- Harold B. Lee
I hope this post helps your family be happier.
Challenge your brain with my riddles-galore, you'll answer a couple and want even more!
1. Brothers and sisters I have none but this man's father is my father's son. Who is the man?
2. What kind of tree can you carry in your hand??
3. The maker doesn't need it. The buyer won't use it. The user can't see it. What is it?
4. Which word in the dictionary is always spelled incorrectly?
5. What can travel around the world while staying in a corner?
6. What gets wetter and wetter the more it dries?
7. Paul's height is six feet, he's an assistant at a butcher's shop, and wears size 9 shoes. What does he weigh?
8. There was a green house. Inside the green house there was a white house. Inside the white house there was a red house. Inside the red house there were lots of babies. What is it?
9. What kind of room has no doors or windows?
Please try and answer will be........????????????
1. Quite simple - my son.
2. A palm tree.
3. A coffin.
5. A Stamp.
6. A towel
8. A watermelon.
9. A mushroom.
What's Your Riddler Rank?
0: Back to riddle school with you! Next time, try and think a bit more outside the box, we know you can do it!
1-3: You're a novice riddler, who still misses most but is starting to grasp the basics of riddling.
4-6: You're a riddler in the making, no doubt about it! Your ability to think outside the conventional answers is quite impressive, good for you!
7-10: Are you some kind of super riddler? How did you DO that?? We take our respective hats off before your mighty riddling powers, and can only hope you can teach us your clever, clever ways.
You meet and love your partner as a mirror of what you think and feel about yourself. What you ‘get’ is what your vibration attracted for good or otherwise. Look at the other one as you in a different body. You may have different background, skills, likes and dislikes but your energy in the beginning mirrored theirs. If you loved your inner self, you attract someone who merges with that, even if they are on the cusp of loving themselves likewise, but perhaps the attraction is your mutual love can bring that out of them.
Once upon a time, there was an island where all the feelings lived: Happiness, Sadness, and all of the others, including Love.
One day it was announced to the feelings that the island would sink, so all repaired their boats and left.
Love was the only one who stayed. Love wanted to persevere until the last possible moment.
When the island was almost sinking, Love decided to ask for help.
Richness was passing by Love in a grand boat. Love said, "Richness, can you take me with you?" Richness answered, "No I can't..There is a lot of gold and silver in my boat. There is no place for you here."
Love decided to ask Vanity, who was also passing by in a beautiful vessel, "Vanity, please help me!" "I can't help you Love. You are all wet and might damage my boat," Vanity answered.
Sadness was close by so Love asked for help, "Sadness let me go with you." "Oh...Love, I am so sad that I need to be by myself!"
Happiness passed by Love too, but she was so happy that she did not even hear when Love called her!
Suddenly, there was a voice, "Come Love, I will take you." It was an elder. Love felt so blessed and overjoyed that he even forgot to ask the elder her name.
When they arrived at dry land, the elder went her own way. Love, realizing how much he owed the elder, asked Knowledge, another elder, "Who helped me?"
"It was Time," Knowledge answered.
"Time?" asked Love. "But why did Time help me?
Knowledge smiled with deep wisdom and answered, "Because only Time is capable of understanding how great Love is.
This year, Simon is in fourth grade and Grace is in first grade, and I find myself asking them every day after school, "So how was school today?"
And every day I get an answer like "fine" or "good," which doesn't tell me a whole lot.
AND I WANT TO KNOW A WHOLE LOT!!!!
Or at least get a full sentence. So the other night, I sat down and made a list of more engaging questions to ask about school. They aren't perfect, but I do at least get complete sentences, and some have led to some interesting conversations... and hilarious answers... and some insights into how my kids think and feel about school.
1. What was the best thing that happened at school today? (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?)
2. Tell me something that made you laugh today.
3. If you could choose, who would you like to sit by in class? (Who would you NOT want to sit by in class? Why?)
4. Where is the coolest place at the school?
5. Tell me a weird word that you heard today. (Or something weird that someone said.)
6. If I called your teacher tonight, what would she tell me about you?
7. How did you help somebody today?
8. How did somebody help you today?
9. Tell me one thing that you learned today.
10. When were you the happiest today?
11. When were you bored today?
12. If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed someone up, who would you want them to take?
13. Who would you like to play with at recess that you've never played with before?
14. Tell me something good that happened today.
15. What word did your teacher say most today?
16. What do you think you should do/learn more of at school?
17. What do you think you should do/learn less of at school?
18. Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?
19. Where do you play the most at recess?
20. Who is the funniest person in your class? Why is he/she so funny?
21. What was your favorite part of lunch?
22. If you got to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you do?
23. Is there anyone in your class who needs a time-out?
24. If you could switch seats with anyone in the class, who would you trade with? Why?
25. Tell me about three different times you used your pencil today at school.
So far, my favorite answers have come from questions 12, 15 and 21. Questions like the "alien" one give kids a non-threatening way to say who they would rather not have in their class, and open the door for you to have a discussion to ask why, potentially uncovering issues you didn't know about before.
And the answers we get are sometimes really surprising. When I asked question 3, I discovered that one of my children didn't want to sit by a best friend in class anymore -- not out of a desire to be mean or bully, but in the hope they'd get the chance to work with other people.
As my kids get older, I know I am going to have to work harder and harder to stay engaged with them -- but I know it's going to be worth the work.