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In Praise of Email

People often talk about how we overuse email. They complain that we should pick up the phone more often. They’re right, of course, and I am normally one of them.

But sometimes email can be better than a phone call.

Last week I set up a lunch with a business friend. It seemed efficient to set the date by phone. We both checked our calendars and agreed on the date and time, 11:30 a.m. on Friday.

But when I emailed him today to recommend a place for our lunch, he wrote back:

Lynn, my dear friend, I am so sorry. I managed to completely forget to set up the appointment on my calendar and now have a meeting on Friday that goes until 12:30!

My sincerest apologies. I think because we arranged the date over the phone, I didn’t set up the Outlook appointment right away. Busy much?

Yes, when busy, we can forget a crucial step such as typing or recording an appointment. But with email, we both would have had the record, and with an Outlook meeting appointment, it would have instantly appeared on our calendars.

The next time I schedule a meeting efficiently by phone I will send a confirming Outlook meeting invitation–by email.

Another lesson learned.

Syntax Training

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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.