Skip to content

New Resource for College Instructors

I’m pleased to announce a complete new communications curriculum for college instructors. The curriculum works as a standalone course or as a supplement to business writing classes. The course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, developed out of my long-standing interest in diplomatic, relationship-building messages at work.

The comprehensive 90-page curriculum is free to college instructors. It’s filled with detailed learning activities, lecture notes, effective and ineffective examples, exercises, and homework assignments.

One of my many favorite learning activities from the curriculum involves revising relationship-busting statements. Students first recognize why the instructor statements below are relationship busters. Then they either write or shout out their revisions of them. (Note: I credit the idea of shouting out revisions to Professor Anita Pandey of Morgan State University, who uses it in an exercise she calls “10 Seconds to Politeness!”)

Instructor statements to revise into relationship builders:

  • I received your text complaining about the first assignment.
  • Some of you have expressed confusion over the attendance policy.
  • I won’t release your grade until you complete the final project.

More statements to revise:

  • This budget makes no sense.
  • Your idea will not work.
  • Sorry for the inconvenience.

How would you revise each statement above so the message is more diplomatic and positive?

Once students recognize relationship-busting statements and learn how to revise them, they can create their own relationship busters to challenge their classmates.

Posted by Lynn Gaertner Johnson
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. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.

10 comments on “New Resource for College Instructors”

  • Lynn, I am not a college instructor; however, I wanted to give it a try.

    I received your text about your concerns regarding the first assignment.

    My understanding is that the attendance policy has created some confusion.

    I will release your grade after you complete the final project.

    This budget needs some adjustments before it can be approved.

    Thank you for sharing your idea. Due to our low budget, it cannot be implemented. (kindly explain why the idea will not produce results.)

    I’m sorry for the inconvenience this may cause you.


  • Dear Lynn, thank you!!!!! My position is Secretary to the Social Science & Business Division at our local community college. I work as faculty secretary to both full-time professors and adjunct instructors, providing clerical support for them and for their division chair. I can tell you that this resource is VERY much needed. It is my hope that they will take this opportunity to improve communications, as I am passing it to our division chair today.

  • Hi Carlos,

    Nice job! You successfully revised the relationship-busting aspects of the statements. I especially like your use of these words and phrases: concerns, understanding, I will, approved, thank you for sharing, and I’m sorry.

    My versions are slightly different. See what you think of them.

    –Thank you for sharing your concerns about the first assignment. (Saying “thank you” defuses the negative emotion.)

    –I’d like to clarify the attendance policy OR I’d like to clarify the attendance policy for everyone’s benefit. (Replaces “confusion” with “clarify.”)

    –I will release your grade as soon as I receive your final project and review it. (“As soon as” expresses immediacy.)

    –I’d like to learn more about certain aspects of this budget.

    –Interesting idea. Let’s talk about how it would work.

    –Thank you for your patience with this situation. (Shifts the focus away from the inconvenience.)

    Of course, our revision depends on how we imagine the context for each statement.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your ideas.


  • Lynn, thank you! Great suggestions. Working in the hospitality business, we refrain from being negative, cold, and uninterested when interacting with our guests. We have embraced the “Be the Difference” attitude in our departments. “Let me see what I can do for you” and “thank you for your patience,” are always well-received statements, versus the harsh “No, I can’t do that” or “that is not my problem.”
    Thank you, for writing your blog!

  • Hi Lynn, I really liked your blog.
    I am not sure if this is the correct post to ask this question but I didn’t know where else to write.

    Is the below sentence correct to use at the end of an email?

    “We look forward to serving you with our best”

  • I apologize for the delay in responding. When I first read the statement you are asking about, I didn’t have an instant answer.

    I like the tone of the statement. The phrases “look forward,” “serving you, and “our best” all have a positive feeling. I do wonder, however, our best what?

    Thinking it over, I have decided that I would not use the statement because of its feeling of incompleteness. But that’s only my opinion. Do ask the opinion of others.


  • Hi Lynn,

    Thank you for responding.

    Yes, I also felt the incompleteness but then people also say “Give my best to…”
    I am from India and English is not my first language. Also, I don’t know anyone better than you to ask such questions.
    One day I just came up with this sentence and I would like to continue using it instead of usual email endings if I know it’s not too wrong.
    I would greatly appreciate if you could consult with your friends and give me an answer even if takes some time.
    Thank You.
    You are awesome

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *