Business Writing

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Syntax Training | Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

January 19, 2018

Be Nice and Make Less Work for Your Reader

The other day at my health club I asked an employee what time the bank parking lot was available for club members' use. I knew I could use the bank lot when the bank closed, but I wasn't sure what time that was. The employee responded, "You'll have to ask at the bank." 

The health club has arranged with the bank for club members to use the parking lot. Why wouldn't the club employee want to know about the closing time herself? Why make individual club members find out from the bank? 

I didn't give any flak to the employee because I'm trying to spread joy rather than annoyance. Instead, I thought about how the situation relates to writing. How can people avoid coming across as uninterested and instead take the next step for their readers? Below are a few ideas I thought of. Please add yours. 

If someone: 

1. Asks for something and you aren't the right person to provide it, forward the email to the person who can. But before forwarding, make sure there's nothing in the original email that the writer would not want forwarded.  

2. Emails a question and you can't answer it now, reply anyway. Let them know when you will have the information, so they don't have to worry that you didn't get the message. 

3. Will need to schedule a meeting with you, email suggested meeting times rather than waiting for them to do it. If you work with them, add the meeting to their calendar. 

4. Needs to take a step forward on a project, offer suggestions of next steps instead of just asking "What do you want to do?" 

5. Wants to connect with an associate of yours, don't just provide the person's email. Introduce them by email to make the job easier for both of them. Read How to Introduce Two People in Writing for tips and examples. 

6. Needs information from a website, give them a specific link within the site, not just to the home page. 

7. Needs an answer from you--and your answer is no--reply promptly. Don't make them ask again. Here are tips on How to Say No.

Can you think of other ways to make life easier for readers? If you share them, you may make life easier for readers around the world. 

This week a article "How to Send Stern Work Emails Without Burning Bridges" featured some of my ideas. Check it out!

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