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July 08, 2019


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Leclercq Jennifer

What about « brothers and sisters » (i.e. in a religious email)? I feel this should be replaced with « friends ». Thoughts?


Agreed. Gender neutral is the way to go. I tend to opt for "Hi all" or "Hi team".

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Hi Jennifer,

Yes, "brothers and sisters" also communicates along gender lines. "Friends" is a perfect alternative for a religious organization.

Thanks for asking.


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Anita, thanks for your response.



Would you please just get over it?! Instead of twisting ourselves into pretzels in the struggle not to offend someone (it's OK to say "someone," yes?), why don't we just ditch "he" and "she" and their offshoots and simply use "it"? No doubt we'd still offend because no matter what, we're stuck with that group, the League of the Perpetually Offended, whose snowflake members -- have you noticed? -- don't care a jot about those whom they offend.

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Kls, I hope I never get over my desire to communicate well and to continue learning.



Regarding Rob's issue: I'm pretty sure the female executive in question is fed up of "guys", a now generic, both sexes-encompassing term that is actually male in origin. Perhaps she simply wishes to turn the tables and use a female term in the same way.

As far as KLS's comments go: I have to agree with them in large part. It is not about a lack of desire to communicate well or continue to learn.

In Germany, you now have to include in job offers male/female/diverse. You have to include these terms in order to discriminate against no-one. Ironically, if male/female/diverse were simply left off the job offer, automatically EVERYONE would be included, or not? Why keep up with all this INcluding when we simply need to NOT EXclude?


I cringe every time I receive a work email addressed to "Ladies." There are so many better options available, as you've kindly listed.


I use "All" or "Team" as my greeting of choice. I also love "Greetings".

Business Writing Blog

KE, thank you for your thoughtful response. I like your guess about the female executive's motive in using "Ladies."

Regarding Kls, I have to disagree. If we want to communicate well, we use the language that appeals to our audiences. It's something good communicators always do. It takes no effort to switch from "Ladies and Gentlemen" to "Everyone." Too often, when a request comes from sexual minorities or people who have been treated as less than, the request becomes onerous to some people. Why?

And to me, learning is important. In a comment above, Jennifer mentioned "brothers and sisters." A reader of these comments could learn something from Jennifer's suggestion and change their behavior.

I love your example and excellent comment on male/ female/ diverse. I agree that leaving those out is the solution.


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PN and Bridgette, thanks for taking the time to comment.



"...the request becomes onerous to some people. Why?"
Because changing habits is annoying and we naturally tend to avoid it because it requires effort.
Plus, egoistically, some think that if they're not bothered by something, no one else should.

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Deborah, thanks for your ideas. I especially like your final sentence.



Regarding Lynn's "If we want to communicate well, we use the language that appeals to our audiences" -- how far would she go to accommodate? If her audience were comprised of devout texters, would she switch to textese? Would U, Lynn? How far R U avid 2 go 2 please the crowd? If your audience consisted of people who use "ain't" and "it do," then would U communic-8 that way, 2? Cuz if U would, then Y do U have UR newsletter and website? Y not prepare a finale column to say, "Ditch grammar rules and good sense and strive only 2 please UR readers and listeners"?



Business Writing Blog

Kls, what you describe is pandering, and no audience wants to be pandered to.

I am talking about using the language an audience wants--and sometimes asks--to hear. For example, if I give a presentation at the company SAP, I pronounce the name S-A-P because that's what they do. I would not pronounce it to rhyme with "cap."

If someone does not want to be called a lady or wants to be addressed with gender-neutral language, I do the same.



I primarily have government/military correspondence, so "Dear Sir/Ma'am," is still widely used. In fact, it was pointed out that something like "Good Morning" is too informal. The Commander may use "Team," but that's his prerogative.

When my audience was all military, "ALCON" was the salutation. Short for "To All Concerned."

Business Writing Blog


ALCON--that's a great example of military jargon. Thanks for sharing it. I do believe "To All Concerned" (spelled out) can be effective.

An alternative is to skip the greeting and start with a positive opening sentence. That might be a good choice in military communications.

I am grateful for your comment.


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