Scenario: Imagine that you run a classy beachside hotel. Many of the hotel rooms have balconies that face the beach. Everyone walking from the beach toward the hotel can see the balconies.
As the manager of the hotel, how would you communicate with guests who did hang such things off their balconies? Would you call them, leave them a note, or knock on their door and make your request?
It's a bit awkward, isn't it?
I was one of those unthinking guests the first day I stayed at the Hotel Tamarindo Diria in Costa Rica. I tossed my bathing suit and a beach towel over the balcony railing to dry.
The next day I found a note that had been slipped under my door.
Before you read the note, think about how you might communicate with a guest in this awkward situation.
Here's the note in English:
We have a special request for you.
For aesthetic reasons, we would like to ask you to not hang clothes or towels on room balconies. Please use the balcony chairs instead.
Have a beautiful day.
Here's the Spanish version:
De la manera más atenta le solicitamos tender sus paños y ropa en las sillas del balcón y no en la baranda, esto con el fin de preservar la armonía visual.
¡Que tenga un maravilloso dia!
What do you think of the message? Would you write something similar?
I love the way the Hotel Tamarindo Diria handled the communication. The phrases "Dear Guest," "special request for you," "aesthetic reasons," and "Have a beautiful day" all communicate positively and save me any embarrassment. Also, the note offers me an alternative: "Please use the balcony chairs instead."
It's too easy in uncomfortable situations to use negative language or criticize the reader. In this situation, a negative phrase might have been "unsightly appearance." A reader criticism might be "We are sorry to have to make this request," which hints that the reader caused the unfortunate situation.
Do you have thoughts about the Diria's note or about other awkward communications? Please share them.
My book Business Writing With Heart covers many challenging situations: apologizing, saying no, disagreeing, dealing with anger, reminding people, and sharing bad news. You can get it from Amazon, Syntax Training, or your favorite bookseller.