Get a Second Opinion

Last week in a Writing Tune-Up for Peak Performance class, a recent college graduate questioned the wisdom of one of my best practices for email. The best practice he questioned is this:

Get a second opinion before you send an email that is very important or intended for a large audience.

He said something like this: "If I have done all these other best practices, I don’t see any reason to get a second opinion." And when I pressed him, "But if the message is VERY important?" he persisted in the view that another set of eyes wasn’t necessary.

By contrast, I–with 25+ years of business writing experience–always get a second opinion when a message is important or will have lots of readers.

Do I lack confidence? No. I simply know that another set of eyes, another brain, may catch something I missed or did not consider.

Here is an example of what someone missed recently when he sent out an application for a job: "I’m a died in the wool Mac user."

Died in the wool? The employer he was approaching, Dan Balan of Intraqq, wrote back, "We don’t hire ghosts."

Another set of eyes might have caught the error. Too bad it didn’t.

For more email best practices, get my 110 Tips for Sending Email That Gets Read and Gets Results.

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  1. Lynn,

    I have done this for YEARS. My husband is usually the “tone” check for my emails and I’m the GSP check for his.

    I’ve heard that it takes ELEVEN separate proofreaders to ensure a document is correct. (Do you have a similar guideline?) So, if anything is go out in mass, it only stands to reason that more than one or two people would review it.

    -Lori Luza

  2. Hi, Lori. I don’t have a rule of thumb for the number of rounds of proofing. But my husband I are like you and your husband. In our case, he checks for tone, and I check for consistency and style. It’s a nicely complementary approach.

    Thanks for commenting!

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