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The Smell in Building 2

Last week I led a class in Vancouver, British Columbia, for a group of IT (Information Technology) folks. They work in Vancouver for a company headquartered near Seattle.

Right now you may be wondering what a group of IT people in Vancouver have to do with the smell in Building 2, the title of this post. Well, that is exactly what they were wondering. Building 2 is near Seattle, 150+ miles from these Canadian workers, but they received an email asking them if they knew the reason for the building odor. That’s because they are on an email list of all company IT people. So they get messages about the smell in Building 2. They get messages about things like free donuts in the conference room, which is three hours away by car. They get email about all kinds of things that have nothing to do with them.

This irrelevant email wastes the time of the Vancouver workers–and any others across the globe who receive it.

Solution: If you send email to people in many offices, break up your distribution lists. Yes, have a list of all employees, but use that list only when the message pertains to all employees. Have lists for Vancouver, Ontario, Seattle, San Francisco, New York, London, etc. Or at least include a note at the beginning of the email:

You may delete this email if you do not work in the Seattle office.

For those in Building 2, sorry–we can’t help you. We don’t smell a thing.

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.