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Business Writing: <body class="layout-three-column"> <div id="container"> <div id="container-inner" class="pkg"> <!-- banner - rev2 --> <div id="banner"> <div id="banner-inner" class="pkg"> <h1 id="banner-header"><a href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com" accesskey="1">Business Writing</a></h1> <h2 id="banner-description"></h2> </div> </div> <div id="pagebody"> <div id="pagebody-inner" class="pkg"> <div id="alpha"> <div id="alpha-inner" class="pkg"> <!-- sidebar1 --> <!-- user photo --> <table border="0" align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" id="about"> <tr> <td valign="top" class="photo"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/about.html"><img src="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c02a553ef01a3fa91debe970b-pi" alt="Lynn Gaertner-Johnston" border="0" title="Lynn Gaertner-Johnston"/></a></td> <td width="80" valign="top"><ul class="aboutus"> <li><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/">Visit Lynn's Website</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/about.html">About Lynn</a></li> <li><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/contact_us.html">Contact Lynn</a></li> </ul> <strong>Subscribe</strong> <ul class="subscriber"> <li class="email"><a href="http://www.feedburner.com/fb/a/emailverifySubmit?feedId=2863746&loc=en_US" title="Receive a link to the latest post in your inbox.">Email</a></li> <li class="rss"><a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/businesswritingblog/BwB09" title="Receive the latest post to your favorite newsreader or Outlook.">RSS</a></li> </ul> </td> </tr> </table> <!-- about page link --> <div id="syntax_training" class="module-typelist module"> <h2 class="module-header">Syntax Training</h2> <div class="module-content"> <ul class="module-list"> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Read about upcoming public classes, both online and in person. "href="http://syntaxtraining.com/upcomingclasses.html">Business Writing Classes Coming Up </a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Get tips and monthly e-newsletter. "href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/signup.html">Email Tips: 25 Tips for Email Etiquette</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="The main article of the current issue is titled "Take Control of Your Jargon.""href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/signup.html">Free Monthly Ezine on Business Writing</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Visit Lynn's website for more articles on business writing."href="http://syntaxtraining.com/articles.html">Lynn's Articles on Writing </a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title=""href="http://syntaxtraining.com/heart.html">"Business Writing With Heart": Lynn's New Book</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Lynn talks about "Business Writing With Heart""href="http://youtu.be/VXsKN3YeKdY">YouTube Book Interview</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title=""href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com">Visit Lynn's Website</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> <div id="writing_resources" class="module-typelist module"> <h2 class="module-header">Writing Resources</h2> <div class="module-content"> <ul class="module-list"> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Fine blog on writing, marketing, and business"href="http://www.articulatemarketing.com/blog">Bad Language: The Articulate Marketing Blog</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Lynn's picks for best books"href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/recommended_books.html">Business Writing Books</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Tips from Syntax Training"href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/business_writing_tips.html">Business Writing Tips</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Q&A on questions of style and consistency"href="http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/CMS_FAQ/new/new_questions01.html">Chicago Manual of Style</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Useful statistics on Internet use and traffic"href="http://www.clickz.com/stats">ClickZ Stats Toolbox</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Hundreds of errors listed alphabetically"href="http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/index.html">Common Errors in English</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Review 440 lessons in grammar and punctuation in the archives"href="http://www.dailygrammar.com">Daily Grammar</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Photos to inspire and stretch"href="http://dailywalks.com/">Daily Walks | Diane Varner</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Thought-provoking pieces on marketing "href="http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/weblog.php">Duct Tape Marketing Blog</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="With 150 excellent interactive quizzes"href="http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/">Guide to Grammar and Writing</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Over 1000 interactive quizzes at varying levels of difficulty"href="http://a4esl.org">Interactive ESL Quizzes</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Games and exercises for everyone, including native English speakers"href="http://www.manythings.org">Interesting Things for ESL/EFL Students</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Resources for lawyers who write"href="http://raymondpward.typepad.com/newlegalwriter/">Legal Writer</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="In celebration of punctuation"href="http://www.nationalpunctuationday.com">National Punctuation Day</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Get results from as many as 18 dictionaries"href="http://www.onelook.com">OneLook Dictionary Search</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Join the fight for clear writing"href="http://www.plainenglish.co.uk">Plain English Campaign</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Proofreading symbols listed and illustrated"href="http://www.journalismcareers.com/articles/proofreadingsymbols.shtml">Proofreading Symbols</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Explore the site for MLA & APA Style guidance, rules, exercises, and presentations "href="http://owl.english.purdue.edu/">Purdue's Writing Lab</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Test your spelling at five levels of difficulty"href="http://eslus.com/LESSONS/SPELL/SPELL.HTM">Spelling Tests</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Words spelled differently in British, Canadian, and American English"href="http://www3.telus.net/linguisticsissues/BritishCanadianAmerican.htm">Spelling: British, Canadian, American</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Syntax Training (Lynn's company) website"href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com">Syntax Training</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="A test on which Lynn got 3 wrong! "href="http://books.guardian.co.uk/quiz/questions/0,5957,1303707,00.html">Tough Spelling Test</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Take a free typing test. Available in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, and Finnish. "href="http://www.typingtest.com">TypingTest.com </a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="Words with different meanings in British, Canadian, and American English"href="http://www3.telus.net/linguisticsissues/britishcanadianamericanvocab.html">Vocabulary: British, Canadian, American</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="A list that allows you to search by misspellings--not correct spellings"href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:List_of_common_misspellings">Wikipedia: List of Common Misspellings </a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="New words defined, a great resource"href="http://www.wordspy.com">Word Spy</a></li> <li class="module-list-item"><a title="A search engine to hundreds of online dictionaries, and much more"href="http://www.yourdictionary.com">YourDictionary.com</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="beta"> <div id="beta-inner" class="pkg"> <div id="sharethis" style="text-align:right;"> <span class='st_twitter' displayText='Tweet'></span> <span class='st_facebook' displayText='Facebook'></span> <span class='st_linkedin' displayText='LinkedIn'></span> <span class='st_pinterest' displayText='Pinterest'></span> <span class='st_sharethis' displayText='ShareThis'></span> <span class='st_email' displayText='Email'></span> </div> <script type="text/javascript"> window.ZemantaBlogSettings = ""; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://content.zemanta.com/static/typepad/js/recommend.js"></script> <!-- entries --> <h2 class="date-header">August 25, 2015</h2> <div class="entry-category-courteous_writing entry-category-email entry-category-etiquette entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b8d14e3a7a970c"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/08/caution-read-the-thread-before-you-send.html">Caution: Read the Thread Before You Send</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>Forwarded emails can threaten professional relationships and reputations. And they often communicate the dangerous content where we don't readily see it--lower down the thread, in a previous screen. The three examples below will remind you to scroll and check content before clicking <strong>Send. </strong></p> <p>1.  I was searching for someone to help promote a book for a client, and a marketing specialist responded to my group email. His message presented him well, but I laughed when I happened to scroll down and noticed that his mother had forwarded my message to him. She had instructed him in what to include to sell himself and how much to charge. He had followed his mother's guidance.</p> <p>At first I thought "Thanks, Mom. You made your son look silly." But his mother wasn't to blame. <em>He</em> had not edited his mother's message when he emailed me. </p> <p>2. I wrote to a friend asking her for brief information about a mutual acquaintance. Rather than replying to my question, she forwarded my email to our acquaintance.</p> <p>Normally, that forwarding could be efficient rather than unfortunate. But I had referred to the acquaintance as "the other Lynn" (rather than using her full name), and it was clear from my message that I didn't remember things about her that I probably should have.</p> <p>The purpose of my original message was to be reminded of things so that I could approach our acquaintance in a more friendly way. Instead, I felt embarrassed that my friend had inadvertently revealed my ignorance. I wish she had considered the thread before clicking <strong>Send</strong>. </p> <p>3. An attendee at one of my business writing classes told the story of a hurtful forwarding. As an accounting clerk, she often had to persist in asking for receipts to document expenses. In that context, she found herself referred to as the "accounting nazi" in an email thread. When she read that label, she was angry with the person who wrote it <em>and</em> the person who forwarded it. </p> <p>Remember: Potential danger lurks beneath the first screen in threads and forwarded messages. Scroll down and remove any unprofessional, hurtful, or negative content before you click <strong>Send</strong>. </p> <p>Have you experienced thoughtless forwards or threads? Please share your examples. </p> <p>You might enjoy the chapter "Protect Your Relationships by Avoiding Bad Email Behaviors" in my book, <em><a href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/products/heart" target="_self" title="Get an autographed copy from Syntax Training">Business Writing With Heart: How to Build Great Work Relationships One Message at a Time</a>. </em></p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's mobile-compatible website">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">August 25, 2015 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/courteous_writing/">Courteous Writing</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/email/">Email</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/etiquette/">Etiquette</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/08/caution-read-the-thread-before-you-send.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/08/caution-read-the-thread-before-you-send.html#comments">Comments (5)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">August 19, 2015</h2> <div class="entry-category-frequently_asked_questions entry-category-teaching_business_writing entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c7c16f99970b"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/08/ignore-.html">Ignore These 10 Always-Never Rules </a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>In a recent <a href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/classes/punctuation" target="_self" title="Find out about the class and test your punctuation knowledge">Punctuation for Professionals</a> online class, an attendee said she had learned this rule: to always use a comma before <em>because. </em></p> <p>That "rule" makes no sense. We need a comma before <em>because </em>only rarely. Most commas before <em>because</em> appear for another reason having nothing to do with the word <em>because.</em></p> <p>Examples:</p> <ul> <li>We chose Monday, July 6, because it’s the best date for everyone. (The comma before <em>because </em>is necessary because of the date following the day of the week.)</li> <li>The event will take place in Chicago, Illinois, because of its central location. (Commas should surround a state, province, or country when one of its cities precedes it.)</li> <li>Martha said she liked peach pie, because she wanted to please her mother-in-law. (The comma prevents running together "She liked peach pie because she wanted to please her mother-in-law.")</li> <li>I told my supervisor I was late, because I assumed he would hear about it anyway. (The comma prevents the confusing “I was late because I assumed he would hear about it anyway.")</li> </ul> <p>Sometimes we remember rules incorrectly, adding <em>always</em> or <em>never</em> to them. But sometimes rules just make no sense.</p> <p><strong>Ignore these <em>always </em></strong><strong>and <em>n</em></strong><strong><em>ever</em></strong><strong><em> </em>"rules":</strong></p> <p>1. "Never use a comma before <em>and." </em>This rule wins for craziness. Many sentence constructions require a comma before <em>and. </em>Read my blog post <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2007/03/commas_with_and.html" target="_self" title="Read about commas with "and"">"Commas With <em>And</em>"</a> to recognize them. </p> <p>2. "Always use a comma before quotation marks." Sometimes, yes. But not always. A comma would be wrong in these sentences, for instance:</p> <ul> <li>I read Maya Angelou's poem "Still I Rise" yesterday. </li> <li>The phrase "bleeding edge" confuses many people and bothers others. </li> </ul> <p>3. "Always spell out numbers that are less than 10." Nope--it's not that simple. Consider these correct sentences: </p> <ul> <li>This blouse is a size 8. </li> <li>Page 5 has a typo. </li> <li>The price rose 6 percent. </li> <li>See you at 2 p.m. </li> </ul> <p>4. "Never start a sentence with <em>because." </em>Not a rule! You can start a sentence with any word you choose (including <em>and </em>and <em>but</em>). </p> <p>5. "Never end a sentence with a preposition." Go right ahead. These sentences work just fine:</p> <ul> <li>Type the name you want to search for. </li> <li>Where is Saman from? </li> </ul> <p>6. "Never split an infinitive." For the right emphasis in your sentence, do it. These split infinitives work:</p> <ul> <li>I have been taught to always capitalize proper nouns. </li> <li>Her goal is to eventually start her own business. </li> </ul> <p>7. "Always include the other person's name before using <em>me." </em>Always? No. When you are the preferred choice, use <em>me </em>first. </p> <ul> <li>Please call me or John Cavanaugh, my associate. </li> </ul> <p>8. "Never start a sentence with <em>I </em>in business writing." Don't believe it! Here's what one individual who asked me about this "rule" wrote: "It has always been taught to me that a sentence should not begin with <em>I." </em>Following that nutty rule had contorted his sentence, which could have been simply "I learned that a sentence should not begin with <em>I</em>." Remember: A sentence can start with any word you want.</p> <p>9. "Never use a contraction in business writing." Would not you hate to have to follow that rule?</p> <p>10. "When using bullet points, always have at least two." No, not necessarily so. Although one item doesn't make a list, you can make one point and bullet it. Notice how Number 7 above has just one bulleted example. </p> <p>Can you add to my list of always-never rules? Please do. </p> <p><em>Lynn</em><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self" title="The site is now mobile compatible.">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">August 19, 2015 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/frequently_asked_questions/">Frequently Asked Questions</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/teaching_business_writing/">Teaching Business Writing</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/08/ignore-.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/08/ignore-.html#comments">Comments (18)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">August 13, 2015</h2> <div class="entry-category-best_picks_ entry-category-teaching_business_writing entry-category-writing_tips entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b8d144e77f970c"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/08/do_you_like_this_caterers_messaging.html">Do You Like This Caterer's Messaging?</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>If you are like many business people, you have attended meetings, conferences, and training programs that include a catered lunch. Can you remember the name of any of the caterers? Do you remember anything that would help you find the caterer if you wanted to schedule a lunch (and have more of those luscious brownies)? </p> <p>For two <a href="http://www.syntaxtraining.com/classes/writing-tune-up/" target="_self" title="Learn about the class">Writing Tune-Up</a> classes I taught recently near Philadelphia, the lunch meals were catered by <a href="http://croccater.com" target="_self" title="Visit the caterer's website">Crocodile Cafe & Catering</a>. Why do I remember? The paper napkins that came with the delicious, satisfying lunch told me all about the company and its "commandments."</p> <p><a class="asset-img-link" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c02a553ef01b8d1487ec4970c-pi" style="display: inline;"><img alt="Napkin photo" border="0" class="asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b8d1487ec4970c image-full img-responsive" src="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c02a553ef01b8d1487ec4970c-800wi" title="Napkin photo" /></a></p> <p>I read the napkin while I ate lunch. The commandments made me compare the company's ideals to its actions. Was the food on time? Yes. Did the caterer forget anything? No, not from my perspective. Did we have enough food? Yes! Was there great variety in the menu? Absolutely. </p> <p>Crocodile Cafe & Catering printed its commandments for all to see--and it lived up to them. </p> <p>When I visited the company's <a href="http://www.croccater.com" target="_self">home page</a>, "10 Reasons to Order" grabbed my attention. Notice how the language of the commandments changes, in part, from "we" to "you":</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">"We will always give enough food" shifts to "You will never have to worry about running out of food." </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">"We will offer great variety" becomes "You will never get bored and have to call other caterers again." </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Several commandments are distilled into "There's no first date anxiety." </p> <p> </p> <p><a class="asset-img-link" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c7beacb1970b-pi" style="display: inline;"><img alt="Napkin 2" border="0" class="asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c7beacb1970b image-full img-responsive" src="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c7beacb1970b-800wi" title="Napkin 2" /></a></p> <p> </p> <p>Those changes from "we" to "you" make sense for communicating with potential customers who are researching the company on its website.</p> <p>When visitors click any of the 10 reasons, they get details. For instance, "There's no first date anxiety" leads to:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">We are happy to meet with you to showcase any of our menu items on Mondays or Fridays. Please give at least one week's notice. Need references? Give us a call and we will supply you with three references from events we have catered within the past three business days. How is that for current? </p> <p>If I taught business writing near Philadelphia again, I would call on <a href="http://croccater.com" target="_self" title="Visit the website">Crocodile Cafe & Catering</a> to provide food for the class. The company offers great food, it communicates clearly, and it does not make me work to find out more. I'm sold.</p> <p>And how could I forget a company called Crocodile Cafe & Catering, established in 8/8/88? </p> <p>Do you like Crocodile Cafe & Catering's messaging? </p> <p><span style="color: #0000bf;"><em>Lynn</em></span><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self" title="Visit our company website">Syntax Training </a></p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">August 13, 2015 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/best_picks/">Best Picks </a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/teaching_business_writing/">Teaching Business Writing</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/writing_tips/">Writing Tips</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/08/do_you_like_this_caterers_messaging.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/08/do_you_like_this_caterers_messaging.html#comments">Comments (6)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">July 23, 2015</h2> <div class="entry-category-teaching_business_writing entry-category-writing_tips entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01bb08573ebd970d"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/07/avoid-fake-intimacy.html">Avoid Fake Intimacy</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>If you write a blog, a newsletter, or both, you work to develop valuable content that appeals to readers. You build a relationship of trust with your readers that encourages them to return to your site.</p> <p>But you don't want to take such relationships for granted, as my marketing mentor, <a href="http://yudkin.com" target="_self" title="Learn more about Marcia">Marcia Yudkin</a>, warned in her recent weekly "Marketing Minute," which I share with her permission:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Whether it's your blog or your weekly/monthly newsletter, avoid relating to your readers as if they've known you for years. Why? When your business has healthy growth, each post or ezine has some readers who know little or nothing about you.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">I hate it when I start receiving emails that refer to the sender only as "Carol" or "Jason." With just a first name to go on, I cannot connect the email to what made me want to hear from that person. It's like reading a random note that washed up in a bottle.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Likewise, some marketers write as if you know that "George" is their pet guinea pig. Or they'll refer to their cramped living space as if you undoubtedly remember that they live and work in an RV.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Your readers are not necessarily best buddies who have known you forever. So don't write as if each message is an installment in an ongoing conversation. Instead, always provide enough context so whether it's a first contact or the thousandth, it makes sense and connects to your relevant business identity.</p> <p>My favorite part of Marcia's advice is her reminder that healthy growth brings readers who don't know you. Those strangers deserve content that is fleshed out enough to make them feel at home with you and the knowledge and services you offer.</p> <p>The advice applies beyond blogs and newsletters. Your home page (and other pages readers land on) must offer more than obscure, changing images and cryptic phrases. Don't make readers click, click, click to figure out who you are. </p> <p>Likewise, be sure your emails supply what readers need, especially those readers who may not know you well. I recently received this message: </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Subject: Lynn, Quick Question</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Forgive me for reaching out to you again, just wanted to check in to see if you think our infographic is a fit for your audience.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Thanks again for taking the time out.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Annie :-)</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">PS: Any and all feedback is welcome.</p> <p>I would love to respond and possibly provide feedback when I have extra time. But WHICH infographic? Why should I remember it? Unless we know each other well, I need information and the infographic again to help me respond this time. </p> <p>Checking old emails, I realize that Annie wrote to me in April and was following up this month. Too much time has passed for me to remember her earlier request. </p> <p>With your family, yes, you can expect an intimate knowledge of your life. But with the rest of us, as Marcia Yudkin says, avoid fake intimacy. </p> <p><a href="http://yudkin.com/markmin.htm" target="_self" title="Subscribe to the newsletter">Subscribe</a> to receive Marcia's free weekly "Marketing Minute" by email. It takes just a minute to read. </p> <p>Does this advice on fake intimacy ring true for you? Please share your thoughts. </p> <p>Lynn<br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's company website">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">July 23, 2015 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/teaching_business_writing/">Teaching Business Writing</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/writing_tips/">Writing Tips</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/07/avoid-fake-intimacy.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/07/avoid-fake-intimacy.html#comments">Comments (6)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">July 16, 2015</h2> <div class="entry-category-email entry-category-frequently_asked_questions entry-category-teaching_business_writing entry-category-writing_tips entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c7af9826970b"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/07/how-to-spend-less-time-revising-.html">How to Spend Less Time Revising </a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>Do you take too long revising emails, reports, and other communications? This post shares three ways to cut your rewrite time. They cover planning, writing, and adjusting your standards. </p> <p><br /> <strong>1. Make a simple plan and follow it.</strong> Diving in without a plan may give you a rush of accomplishment. But eventually you will have to slog through the revision stage, forcing your words and ideas into a coherent package.<br /> <br /> Decide from the start what you want the message to accomplish. Examples:</p> <ul type="disc"> <li>This agenda will help team members prepare for a productive meeting.  </li> <li>This flyer will motivate parents to attend the open house.</li> <li>This email will help the customer complete the necessary paperwork.</li> </ul> <p>Once you know what you want to accomplish, list the questions your message must answer for your readers to achieve your goal. Then write the piece by answering your readers’ questions. Do not include information that your readers would not ask for. If you do, you will write too much and will spend too much time cutting and revising. <br /> <br /> For instance, an agenda that helps people prepare for a meeting might answer these questions:</p> <ul type="disc"> <li>What are the agenda items?</li> <li>Who is responsible for handling each agenda item?</li> <li>How much time will we spend on each item?</li> <li>What do we want to accomplish with each one: to agree? to decide? to assign?</li> <li>How should I prepare?</li> </ul> <p>Too often writers focus on background information, when readers rarely want or need it.<br /> <br /> <strong>2. Use the power of one.</strong> When you write, limit yourself to one: just one topic per paragraph, one idea per sentence. Focusing on just one thing at a time will help you avoid sprawling paragraphs and sentences that you have to rework later.</p> <p>For example, in a flyer to motivate parents to attend an open house, the answer to each of these questions would be a separate, short chunk of text: </p> <ul type="disc"> <li>What’s this about?</li> <li>When is the open house?</li> <li>Where is it?</li> <li>Why should I attend? How will it benefit my family?</li> <li>Who will be there?</li> <li>Will food be served?</li> <li>Do I need to let anyone know that I plan to attend?</li> <li>Where can I get more information?</li> </ul> <p>Combining the answers to several questions in one chunk of text will tangle the message. And it will require more time to revise.</p> <p>Similarly, a sentence with several interwoven ideas will take time to untangle:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Our credit department has requested that you provide a copy of your exempt sales tax document and that you fill the top and signature portion of the credit application out just for assurance that we have the pertinent contact information correct.</p> <p>This version, with one idea per sentence, is simple and clear:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Our credit department has requested that you provide a copy of your exempt sales tax document. Also, please fill out the top and signature portion of the credit application. These actions will ensure that we have your correct contact information.</p> <p>Even better, this version helps the ideas stand out for quick action:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">To ensure that we have your correct contact information, please:  </p> <p style="padding-left: 60px;">1. Provide a copy of your exempt sales tax document. </p> <p style="padding-left: 60px;">2. Fill out the top and signature portion of the credit application. </p> <p>If you limit yourself to one idea per sentence (or bullet), you will write a clear version from the start. The time you spend rewriting will shrink.<br />  <br /> <strong>3. Recognize that perfection is unattainable—and a waste of time. </strong>Unless you write essays, poetry, or other literary works, your audience will not read and savor your every word. Instead, they will skim the agenda, flyer, email, proposal, report, or other communication in search of the information they need. So why strive for perfection when clarity, conciseness, and courtesy are useful, achievable goals?<br /> <br /> Avoid pointless revising:</p> <ul type="disc"> <li>Don’t fuss over changing “interesting” to “notable” unless “notable” is more accurate.</li> <li>Don’t take time to change “Thanks” to “Thank you” unless your reader needs a more formal tone.</li> <li>Don’t struggle to eliminate “I am writing to” at the beginning of an email. Yes, your reader knows you are writing. But there is no harm in stating “I am writing to inform you of a change in your interview schedule.”</li> <li>Don’t strive to revise just because two sentences in a row begin with “I.” Those two “I”s will not distract your reader. (But starting every paragraph with “I” <em>will </em>distract your reader, who is probably skimming at the left margin.)</li> <li>Don’t take time to apply outdated rules. You <em>can</em> start a sentence with any word you choose. You <em>can </em>end a sentence with a preposition. You <em>can </em>use contractions unless your document must be formal.</li> </ul> <p>When your communication focuses on its goal and answers your readers’ questions in clear sentences and paragraphs, you are finished revising. Just run your grammar and spelling checker; then proofread. Hurray! The piece is done! Now move on to the next one.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-family: 'arial black', 'avant garde';">This piece originally appeared in our monthly ezine, <em>Better Writing at Work. </em><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/signup.html" target="_self" title="Subscribe to "Better Writing at Work"">Subscribe</a> to receive a practical article each month. </span></p> <p>I would love to hear how you cut your rewriting time. Please share your tips. </p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn </span></em><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">July 16, 2015 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/email/">Email</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/frequently_asked_questions/">Frequently Asked Questions</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/teaching_business_writing/">Teaching Business Writing</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/writing_tips/">Writing Tips</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/07/how-to-spend-less-time-revising-.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/07/how-to-spend-less-time-revising-.html#comments">Comments (1)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">July 09, 2015</h2> <div class="entry-category-email entry-category-teaching_business_writing entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b8d1350fc4970c"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/07/can-this-email-be-saved-.html">Can This Email Be Saved? </a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>I got a request from Luke, who wanted help with an email. He wrote:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">I recently authored a brief ACT prep guide that I am giving to schools throughout the country free of charge. Unfortunately, the response rate from superintendents/ principals has been very low. I believe this is partially because I need to send a more concise and inviting email. I'm also not sure whether I should send the PDF of the prep guide with the initial email or not. Could you help me construct a better email so that I can reach more schools?  </p> <p>Note: ACT is an entrance exam that many U.S. colleges use to assess applicants. </p> <p>Below is the entire email Luke has been sending, with the exception of his subject line, which he did not share with me. </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">I am writing to inform you about a brief study guide I recently authored. My advice is based upon years of studying and coaching, and it is available free of charge. Would you mind passing this on to the parents of ______ High School? I hope you find it useful, and I wish you the best of luck. Thank you for your time! Let me know if you have any questions.</p> <p>Do you recognize why Luke's email is not getting a response? Would you revise it or start over? On Friday I will share my recommendations. </p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's company website">Syntax Training</a></p> <p> </p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">July 09, 2015 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/email/">Email</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/teaching_business_writing/">Teaching Business Writing</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/07/can-this-email-be-saved-.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/07/can-this-email-be-saved-.html#comments">Comments (15)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">June 25, 2015</h2> <div class="entry-category-grammar_and_usage entry-category-proofreading entry-category-teaching_business_writing entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b8d12d8860970c"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/06/how-fast-can-you-change-passive-verbs.html">How Fast Can You Change Passive Verbs?</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>Passive voice verbs sneak into everyone's writing--at least in first drafts. When your grammar and spelling checker flags a passive verb, how quickly can you rewrite the sentence?</p> <p>My Microsoft grammar and spelling checker underlined 10 of the 11 passive verbs below. Its only miss was <em>were completed. </em></p> <p>See how fast you can revise these sentences to eliminate the underlined passive verbs:  </p> <ol> <li>I <span style="text-decoration: underline;">can be reached</span> at the number below. </li> <li>This expense <span style="text-decoration: underline;">must be approved</span> by a VP. </li> <li>Milestones <span style="text-decoration: underline;">should be defined</span> in the project plans. </li> <li>It <span style="text-decoration: underline;">would be appreciated</span> if this form <span style="text-decoration: underline;">were completed</span>. </li> <li>It <span style="text-decoration: underline;">should be noted</span> that the deadline is July 15. </li> <li>Low-priority items <span style="text-decoration: underline;">are summarized</span> in the table below. </li> <li>The invoices <span style="text-decoration: underline;">should be reviewed</span> carefully. </li> <li>All visitors <span style="text-decoration: underline;">must be escorted</span>. </li> <li>Your feedback <span style="text-decoration: underline;">is appreciated</span>. </li> <li>The event <span style="text-decoration: underline;">was postponed</span> until August. </li> </ol> <p>As you worked through the list, you may have wanted to keep some sentences as they were. For example, what's wrong with "All visitors must be escorted"? Nothing. </p> <p>Sometimes passive verbs do work as well as or better than active verbs: </p> <ul> <li>When you want to soften or broaden a directive: "All visitors must be escorted" rather than "Escort your visitors." </li> <li>When you want to avoid blame: "This invoice should have been paid" rather than "You [or someone else] should have paid this invoice." </li> <li>When you don't know the doer of the action: "The car was stolen" rather than "Someone stole the car." </li> <li>When the doer of the action doesn't matter: "All the tickets were distributed" rather than "The outreach workers distributed all the tickets." </li> </ul> <p>Use a passive verb only when you have a reason for it. Otherwise, as Strunk and White advised, "Use the active voice." It's typically clearer, more direct, and more concise. The revisions below reduce word count by 25 percent.  </p> <p>Here are my active verb versions of the 10 sentences:</p> <ol> <li>You [or customers, users, etc.] can reach me at the number below. </li> <li>A VP must approve this expense.</li> <li>The project plans should define milestones. </li> <li>Please complete this form.  </li> <li>Please note that the deadline is July 15. [OR]<br />Note: The deadline is July 15. </li> <li>The table below summarizes low-priority items.</li> <li>Review the invoices carefully.</li> <li>Escort all visitors. </li> <li>We [I] appreciate your feedback. </li> <li>We [or someone else] postponed the event until August. [OR]<br />The event has moved to August. </li> </ol> <p>Can you revise passive verbs quickly? If not, what gets in the way?</p> <p>Here are other helpful blog posts on passive verbs:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2007/01/make_microsoft_.html" target="_self">Make Microsoft Find Passives</a></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2007/01/procedures_no_p.html" target="_self">Procedures: No Place for Passive Verbs</a></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2010/04/a-passive-verb-to-change.html" target="_self">A Passive Verb to Change</a></p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">June 25, 2015 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/grammar_and_usage/">Grammar and Usage</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/proofreading/">Proofreading</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/teaching_business_writing/">Teaching Business Writing</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/06/how-fast-can-you-change-passive-verbs.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/06/how-fast-can-you-change-passive-verbs.html#comments">Comments (2)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">June 15, 2015</h2> <div class="entry-category-email entry-category-teaching_business_writing entry-category-writing_tips entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b8d12856f2970c"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/06/when-to-write-a-memo-not-an-email.html">When to Write a Memo, Not an Email</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>Before emails demanded everyone’s attention, people communicated internally through a medium called the interoffice memorandum—the memo. We typed and printed it, signed or initialed it, and distributed it through interoffice mail to people who read it to make decisions, take action, or have essential information.</p> <p>These days we have replaced memos with rampant emails. We have pushed email too far, expecting it to communicate long, complex, important messages to everyone. Our inboxes are stuffed, and those essential messages are not being read. </p> <p>It’s time to take the pressure off emails. If you want people to read your important ideas and information, you need to revive the memo. Consider these suggestions:</p> <p><strong>1. Recognize the best uses of email.</strong> Emails win for fast, temporary communications that readers quickly read, act on, and delete. Emails excel at succinct requests and replies, speedy updates, short reminders or check-ins, time-sensitive announcements, and similar short-lived messages. They are perfect for briefly introducing attachments such as memos.</p> <p><strong>2. Use a memo when you are writing a message built to last. </strong>If your communication is a detailed proposal, a significant report, a serious recommendation, a technical explanation, meeting minutes, a new policy, or something else that readers will consult more than once, make it a memo. Your readers will be able to save the document, read it, and find it when they need the information again.</p> <p><strong>3. Use a memo when formatting matters.</strong> If the piece contains bullet points, bold headings, columns, tables, a graph, or even a good balance of white space, a memo will help you retain that formatting. To guarantee your formatting, save the memo as a PDF. If your audience reads emails on their phones, an attachment may be the only way to preserve the formatting you intend.</p> <p><strong>4. If people will print your communication, use a memo rather than an email.</strong> If your message belongs on a bulletin board—for example, in an employee break room—write a memo. If people will discuss your ideas at a meeting, write a memo to make it easy for them to print the document you intended.</p> <p><strong>5. To communicate formally, choose a memo. </strong>Memos provide a place at the top of the message to insert the company name and logo and the professional titles of senders and receivers. Those inclusions make the message appear more formal. Also, a well-formatted message conveys significance.</p> <p><strong>6. When you worry that your message is too long as an email, write a memo. </strong>Impossibly long emails often result when you try to incorporate important, lasting information in them. But memos work best when people will return to your message for information. (See Point 2.) For instance, if you are communicating the details of the four-stage construction project, use a memo. To convey pros and cons of a major purchasing decision, lay out your research in a memo.</p> <p>Attach your memo to an email that gives your readers a brief summary of the memo contents. For some readers, that summary will be enough. Those who need the information will read and save the memo.</p> <p><strong>7. To communicate complex information to people outside your organization </strong>(clients, citizens, etc.), consider a memo or a letter. A letter is the traditional format for external correspondence, especially to people you serve, such as customers and patients. But you can choose a memo to write to vendors, consultants, members, clients, professional peers, and others who collaborate with you to get results.</p> <p><strong>8. To send your memo, simply attach it to a brief email. </strong>Or send a printed copy through interoffice mail if that approach makes sense.</p> <p>I saw the movie “Jurassic World” last week. It’s about dinosaurs thriving today, at a time when the creatures don’t belong. You may think of memos as dinosaurs too, but think again.<strong> </strong>The memo can help your messages come across as professional, relevant, and of lasting importance.</p> <p>***************</p> <p>This article originally appeared in our monthly ezine, <em>Better Writing at Work. </em><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/signup.html" target="_self" title="Subscribe here">Subscribe</a> to receive a practical article in your inbox each month. </p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's company website">Syntax Training</a> </p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">June 15, 2015 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/email/">Email</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/teaching_business_writing/">Teaching Business Writing</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/writing_tips/">Writing Tips</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/06/when-to-write-a-memo-not-an-email.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/06/when-to-write-a-memo-not-an-email.html#comments">Comments (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">June 10, 2015</h2> <div class="entry-category-courteous_writing entry-category-email entry-category-teaching_business_writing entry-category-writing_tips entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01b7c79c8096970b"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/06/when-writers-hide-details-in-plain-sight.html">When Writers Hide Details in Plain Sight</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>Have you ever read something once, maybe twice, only to learn later that the detail you needed was hiding in plain sight? </p> <p>I recently submitted travel reimbursement forms for an association's national conference. I included all my usual travel expenses: airfare, taxi to the conference and back to the airport, and three meals on the day I presented my session. (The association had already paid for my hotel.) </p> <p>I received this email in reply:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Good evening!</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">I just finished processing your reimbursement request and wanted to inform you that, although you did request reimbursement for ground transportation (parking, shuttle, cab, mileage, etc.), I’m afraid it will not be reimbursed. It is stated in your contract as noted below (please see the last bullet), and our Board did make the decision to not reimburse these costs as a cost-saving measure for the Association. I do sincerely apologize for any inconvenience. I know that this is a new process this year, and we all appreciate your understanding.  </p> <p>I usually read the fine print carefully. How had I missed the point that my taxis would not be covered?</p> <p>Easily! Notice where the information appears: </p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Airfare, Baggage, Fees</span>: We have agreed to provide round-trip coach airfare and reimbursement of any fees associated with checking one piece of luggage. Additional guest tickets or checked bags beyond the first are not included. </p> <ul> <li>You are responsible for making your own arrangements, which must be booked no less than <span style="text-decoration: underline;">21</span> days before the speaking engagement. </li> <li>If the airfare is booked in less than 21 days, reimbursement will be limited to the cost of the ticket up to $500, unless an exception is submitted in writing/electronically, and pre-approved by your association contact.</li> <li>The association does not reimburse travel agent booking fees associated with ticket changes or any local/ground transportation.</li> </ul> <p>The information I needed appears at the end of a bullet point about travel agent booking fees--not about local transportation.</p> <p>It is buried in a section with the heading "Airfare, Baggage, Fees"--not "Items Not Covered This Year." </p> <p>Because this is the first year the association has not covered local transportation for its speakers, the exception should stand out--not hide out. </p> <p>I received a group email rather than the usual individual messages I get from the association, so I can tell they had to send this message to many other speakers. I was not alone in missing the essential information tacked onto "Airfare, Baggage, Fees." </p> <p>I have presented at this association's conferences many times, and this email does not change my positive feelings about the group. But it does make me question their intention in burying the bad news. After all, their cost-saving measure is my cost-paying measure. Why not make the information plain? That way, when I took the taxis, I would know that I was paying for them. </p> <p>Has information hidden in plain sight surprised you? My elusive information cost me only $50. Did yours cost more?</p> <p><em><span style="color: #0000bf;">Lynn</span></em><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self" title="Visit Lynn's company website">Syntax Training</a> </p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">June 10, 2015 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/courteous_writing/">Courteous Writing</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/email/">Email</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/teaching_business_writing/">Teaching Business Writing</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/writing_tips/">Writing Tips</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/06/when-writers-hide-details-in-plain-sight.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/06/when-writers-hide-details-in-plain-sight.html#comments">Comments (0)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <h2 class="date-header">May 28, 2015</h2> <div class="entry-category-courteous_writing entry-category-email entry-category-etiquette entry-author-lynn_gaertnerjohnston entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d8341c02a553ef01bb0836155a970d"> <div class="entry-inner"> <h3 class="entry-header"><a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/05/dont-be-driven-by-the-three-email-rule.html">Don't Be Driven by the Three-Email Rule</a></h3> <div class="entry-content"> <input type="hidden" name="zemanta-related" val="" /> <div class="entry-body"> <p>Lately people in business writing classes have been asking about the three-email rule. That's the rule espoused by Phil Simon, author of <em>Message Not Received: Why Business Communication Is Broken and How to Fix It. </em>Simon touched on the rule in a recent online <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/the-3-email-rule-2015-5" target="_self">article</a>, "The '3-Email Rule' Is the Key to Solving the Biggest Problem With Your Inbox":</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">For a few years now, I have argued for a radical addition to the pantheon of email "best practices."</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Yes, it's time to start following a three-email rule — <em>and invoking it</em>. Put as succinctly as possible, after three messages, it's time to talk.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">In my email signature, you'll find that very rule:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>I abide by a three-email rule. After three, we talk.</strong> </p> <p><br />I don't abide by a three-email rule. I have extended conversations, far beyond three emails, especially with clients and potential clients. We trade messages introducing ourselves, scheduling meetings and classes, clarifying details, agreeing on fees, checking in, troubleshooting issues, and following up. Sometimes a simple matter may require several emails back and forth.  </p> <p>Could we save time if we talked rather than emailed? Sometimes yes, usually no. And talking is often not an option. </p> <p>We email <span>instead of talking on the phone regardless of the number of messages </span>because:</p> <ol> <li>It's easy to send a quick email, but it is not so easy to schedule time to talk. My clients are moving from meeting to meeting; I'm teaching and traveling. </li> <li>We want to get the conversation started now rather than wait two weeks until we are both free. Even if it takes three emails just to get things going, at least they are moving forward.</li> <li>We can read and write our emails when we catch a free moment, but we don't have the same moments free to talk. Often we are in faraway time zones, so I am still sleeping when they're well into their to-do lists; they are heading home from happy hour when I'm still having a productive day. </li> <li>We like to have things in writing. If I answer their questions in email--even if it takes them three emails to communicate all their questions (and me three emails to answer them)--they have easy, searchable access to the information. On the phone, we would both need to take notes, either typing or jotting them down, and sometimes we would lose them. </li> <li>They can forward emails to whoever needs the information. Forwarding is much easier than pulling people into a conference call or sharing sketchy notes. </li> <li>When we talk, we need to follow up with confirming emails anyway. </li> <li>Some of us like to think before we communicate. Composing an email in a quiet moment can lead to a better, more careful communication than a call.  </li> </ol> <p>Yes, talking on the phone wins in many situations. Talking helps us get to know one another, coach, work through conflicts, schedule lunch quickly, and hear a range of reactions and emotions. When I talk with a client, I can hear hesitation much better than I can recognize it in email. </p> <p>In my <a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/our_products.html#110_Tips" target="_self" title="Learn more about the booklet">"110 Tips for Sending Email That Gets Read--and Gets Results,"</a> I too offer a three-email tip: "When you have exchanged emails three times without a resolution, stop emailing. Use the phone or meet in person to resolve the issue." It's a tip for solving problems and clearing up misunderstandings when email fails or makes things worse.</p> <p>Rather than conforming to a three-email rule (or making others do so), I recommend paying attention to what works. If exchanging a dozen emails leads to a happy, productive conclusion, write on! If talking brings quick resolutions, keep calling. </p> <p>Do you follow a form of the three-email rule? Or do you email as long as you are getting results? </p> <p>To write efficient, productive emails every time, take my online class <a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/PDF/How_to_Write_Email_June_18_2015.pdf" target="_self" title="This PDF gives you are the information.">How to Write Email That Gets Results</a>. The next session runs on Thursday, June 18, at 1 p.m. Eastern (New York) Time. </p> <p><span style="color: #0000bf;"><em>Lynn</em></span><br /><a href="http://syntaxtraining.com" target="_self" title="Visit our company website">Syntax Training</a></p> </div> <!-- SIGNATURE --> </div> <div class="entry-footer"> <p class="entry-footer-info"> <span class="post-footers">May 28, 2015 in <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/courteous_writing/">Courteous Writing</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/email/">Email</a>, <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/etiquette/">Etiquette</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/05/dont-be-driven-by-the-three-email-rule.html">Permalink</a> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="entry-comments" href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2015/05/dont-be-driven-by-the-three-email-rule.html#comments">Comments (8)</a> </p> <!-- technorati tags --> <!-- post footer links --> </div> </div> </div> <div class="pager-bottom pager-entries pager content-nav"> <div class="pager-inner"> <span class="pager-right"> <a href="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/page/2/"><span class="pager-label">Next</span> <span class="chevron">»</span></a> </span> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div id="gamma"> <div id="gamma-inner" class="pkg"> <!-- sidebar2 --> <!-- Google Search --> <script type = "text/javascript"> function clickFocus(input){ input.className = 'focus'; if (input.value == input.defaultValue){ input.value = ''; } } function unFocus(input){ input.className = 'entered'; if (input.value == ''){ input.value = input.defaultValue; input.className = 'normal'; } } </script> <form method="get" action="http://www.google.com/search"> <div class="googlebox"> <input type="hidden" name="ie" value="UTF-8" /> <input type="hidden" name="oe" value="UTF-8" /> <div align="center"><input type="text" name="q" size="14" maxlength="255" value="Search This Blog" class="searchbox" onfocus="clickFocus(this)" onblur="unFocus(this)" /> <input type="submit" name="btnG" value="Go" style="padding:0; margin:0; text-align:center; width:28px; font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-weight:bold; font-size:11px;" /></div> <span style="font-size:0px;"> <input type="hidden" name="domains" value="www.businesswritingblog.com" /> <input type="hidden" name="sitesearch" value="www.businesswritingblog.com" /> </span> <div align="center"> <a href="http://www.google.com/"><img src="http://www.google.com/logos/Logo_40wht.gif" alt="Google" width="128" height="53" border="0" /></a> </div> </div> </form> <!-- end Search --> <!-- photo adspot --> <a href="http://syntaxtraining.com/heart.html"><img src="http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/assets/images/business-writing-with-heart.png" alt="Business Writing with Heart - How to Build Great Work Relationships One Message at a Time" width="177" height="292" style="margin-left:8px;" title="Learn about Lynn’s award-winning book"/></a> <!-- End photo adspot --> <!-- rss / bookmarking --> <div class="subscribebox"><h2>Subscribe</h2> <!-- social subscribe --> <div id="followthis" style="text-align:center; padding:10px 0;"> <span class='st_twitterfollow' displayText='Twitter Follow' st_username='SyntaxLynn'></span> <iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/likebox.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fsyntaxtraining&width=180&height=270&colorscheme=light&show_faces=true&header=true&stream=false&show_border=false&appId=649758471713658" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="padding:0; border:none; overflow:hidden; width:180px; height:270px;" allowTransparency="true"></iframe> </div> <!-- end social --> <div class="module-syndicate module" style="padding:0px; margin:0px;"> <div class="module-content" style="padding:4px 0px 0px 0px; margin:0px; border-bottom:0px #C4D4E5 solid;"> <strong style="font-size:13px;">By Email</strong><br /> <a href="http://www.feedburner.com/fb/a/emailverifySubmit?feedId=2863746&loc=en_US" target="_blank"><span style="font-size:12px; line-height:14px;">Have the latest posts delivered to your inbox!</span></a> <p> <strong style="font-size:13px;">By RSS Feed</strong><br /> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/businesswritingblog/BwB09" title="Works with all email clients such as Outlook, Yahoo! 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