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January 19, 2015


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Hilde Swendgaard

Too many words. If people are not competent enough to do their jobs, then the sooner this is spotted the better.

As for dogs, we have two labradoodles aged 18 months. They know the command 'sit' and will sit when asked to, but at this young age, they can often have their heads occupied with looking at something else (butterflies, bird shadows) and may need 'sit... sit...' before they realise they're meant to do something. I'm reliably told by dog trainers that this will improve by aged 3.


I don't know.... I agree with the idea one should repeat the request: include it in the subject line and in the first line of the email only. I'm not sure about all the repetition, though. It sounds a little remedial.

About dog training, try it with basenjis for a real 'treat'!


My school of communication taught that 80% of the responsibility for a message rests with the sender. Yes, the receiver has to be paying attention, but I would suggest a pragmatic approach. If you discover that issuing your "sit command" once does not result in compliance, your message is failing--a problem that lies predominantly on you. You can either take responsibility for the failure and seek solutions, or you can blame the recipients and continue to fail.

Lisa Mutchler

I echo Jim's comment above regarding Hilde's view that the fault lies with the reader. In my position as a customer service representative at a busy manufacturing company, I don't have time to blame my readers- I just need answers to my questions so that I can get my work done:-)

Business Writing Blog

Thanks for your views, Hilde, Jennifer, Jim, and Lisa. My example may have been overkill. But I have found, as you have, that the more I do to help readers take action, the better results I get.



An interesting analogy, Lynn. Some dogs respond to a treat during training and others need a little tap on the nose do they not? Taking that to email etiquette would be interesting! "Come to my meeting on x/x/xx with what I need and get first choice of biscuit. Forget and you will receive no biscuits!". I guess it comes down to style in the end and probably how you were trained when still a puppy at work.

Business Writing Blog

Yes, very funny!


Kevin Higgins

Thank you, this information is very helpful! I would be happy if you could read my story about how I trained my dog using online dog obedience training classes: http://dogobediencetraininginfo.com/

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