I Don’t Hear from You

In sales letters and email (and even in telephone messages), many people end like this:

"If I don’t hear from you before then, I will call you on Friday."

There has always been something about that statement that has not felt right to me.  It’s not a threat, no. And it is positive: "I will call you." But it just doesn’t work for me. The other day I realized why not.

I was staring at the words on the screen when I saw the problem:

" . . . I don’t hear from you . . ."

It’s that negative peeking out of the sentence that must have made me nervous. That’s why I like these alternatives:

"I look forward to talking with you. I will phone on Friday."

"I will call you on Friday unless we have talked before then."

"Phone me if you get a moment, or I will follow up on Friday." 

"If you have a chance to call me before Friday, great! Otherwise, I will call you then."

What do you think? Are you satisfied with "If I don’t hear from you?" or do you use another approach? Please share your views.

And if you would like more ways to be persuasive in writing, please read my latest newsletter. Its theme is "Be More Persuasive." (Note: If you subscribe, you will not hear from me unless you want to. It is simply a monthly newsletter, no strings attached.)

Lynn

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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. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I think you are on to something. I would be especially careful about using this term with lawyers. I am a lawyer who did business litigation for a decade, and this phrase was always used in a threatening manner, as in “If I do not hear back from you by Friday, I will have no choice bu to seek relief from the court, including sanctions against you.”

  2. “Phone me if you get a moment, or I will follow up on Friday.” That sounds just as threatening to me. I prefer “Phone me if you get a moment, or I can follow up on Friday.” I’m not sure why “can” sounds softer than “will.” But it does.

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