Business Writing

Talk, tips, and best picks for writers on the job.

Syntax Training | Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

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March 02, 2017



These comments aren't just good for writing, but in talking with others. Thank you so much for your wisdom.

Jennifer Conway

Hi Lynn. I always enjoy your posts.

Thanks for addressing the "please" issue. It's a pet peeve of mine. I receive drafts from executives where they want to use "please" every time they make a request or at the start of every paragraph, not necessarily requests that can be bulleted together like your example. My guidance is to pick one critical request to "please," otherwise, the "please's" drown out the requests and start to sound like begging.

From an HR perspective (since I'm an HR manager), I avoid the use of "Dear" when addressing someone even though I understand its tradition in business writing etiquette. In this age of sexual harassment lawsuits, I don't want anything I write to be misconstrued as inappropriate affection. I stick with "Hi," "Hello," "Good morning (or afternoon)."

Best regards,

Allison Horak

Lynn: As usual, you've given me useful advice. I have concluded that your blog is one of my best writing resources. Thanks for another succinct and practical article.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Thanks for your feedback, Becky, Jennifer, and Allison.

Becky, I agree that these tips apply in conversations too. Nice observation!

Jennifer, I am glad the "please" suggestion resonated with you. Like you, I have seen communications get off message with too many "pleases." Also, I understand your concern about "Dear" in an email, and I use your suggested greetings. In a business letter, however, "Dear" is always appropriate as a greeting.

Allison, you are welcome! Thank you for the positive words.


Lisa Marie Mutchler

This is an extremely helpful post! I absolutely love your point, "Despite your feelings, it is wrong to unite with your reader to criticize your policies. That behavior can undermine people’s view of your organization." I work in customer service at a manufacturing company, and I would never say something disparaging about our company to my customers. When customer service representatives say things like that to me, I always feel that it comes across as unprofessional and reveals a lack of unity and trust within the company. I'm glad to see you point this out, too!

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Lisa Marie,

Thanks for your positive feedback. As someone in customer service, you have unique opportunities to build relationships--and save them, when necessary. Having read your comments over the years, I can tell you know what you are doing.

I'm sorry for the delay in responding. Although I read your comment when you posted it, I was busy then and forgot to come back to it. I do always appreciate hearing from you.



Hello Lynn,
Thank you very much for the informative post.

My query is 'Is there any difference between using 'kindly' and 'please'.

Kindly clarify.
Thank you.


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi KR,

"Please" is the more common word. Here's what Bryan Garner has to say in "Garner's Modern English Usage," which I recommend to you:

"This word is now frequently misplaced in sentences. Traditionally it has meant something close to 'please,' as in 'Kindly take your seats' (= please take your seats). This usage has long been more common in BrE than in AmE. Perhaps that is why Americans have begun to misplace 'kindly' by having it refer not to the person who is requested to do something but to the person doing the requesting--e.g.: 'We kindly ask you to take your seats.'"

Of course, in Garner's example, the correct sentence would be "We ask you to kindly take your seats."


Lisa Marie Mutchler

Lynn, thank you for your very kind, encouraging words. I really appreciate it! It's hard to believe it has already been several years since I started following your blog. I've found so much value in it and continue to look to it as a great resource!

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

You've made my day! Thanks, Lisa Marie.



Hello Lynnn,

your Blog is way better then my business communication classes from MBA.

you have describe topics in interesting way. Really appreciate your hard work.

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