I led a class for a group of writers who respond to citizen complaints about airplane noise. The writers cannot make the planes quieter, and they can't make them go away. What can they do? They can respond in ways that help citizens feel heard and helped. When you can't give...
The other day I participated in an online chat about cats being allowed to roam free in our neighborhood. Opinions for and against piled up minute by minute, with some people expressing strong views. Reading the comments, I noticed this one:  I'm sorry you were offended by my tone. The passive...
Last week I went with two friends to visit an assisted living facility they were considering for their mother. A warm, welcoming man shook hands with us and led us into his office. As we entered, I noticed the door plate. It said Sales and Marketing.  We were not there...
The other day I met my friend Barb for lunch. She arrived at the restaurant first, and the server asked, “Just one?” Barb often eats out alone, and she frowns when she hears that question. This time she replied, “Here is where I should have a snappy comeback, but I...
Today I received an unsolicited email with this as the close: Can you identify what's wrong with it? Think about what you would change before scrolling down to my ideas.                                I'd change several things. But what's definitely wrong is the capitalization. Only the first word of the complimentary close should be capitalized....
You work against deadlines. Often you have to write quickly, even when the message is complex and somewhat delicate. It’s not surprising that you occasionally come across as abrupt when you thought you were being efficient. This problem is especially true in email. For the past few weeks, I've been...
I received a delightful note when I found my seat at the Arena Stage Theater in Washington, D.C., last week. I was on vacation and visiting the theater for the first time.  An envelope addressed to Ms. Lynn Gaertner-Johnston lay propped on my upturned seat. Inside it were two small...
Do you recognize no-win situations, where your writing is doomed to fail? Read below to keep yourself out of trouble. Sometimes when we write, a little voice tells us the communication is going to go wrong. In business writing classes people have admitted, "I had doubts about sending that email"...
Marketing expert Marcia Yudkin, author of No-Hype Copywriting: The Keys to Lively, Appealing, and Truthful Sales Writing, wrote her weekly email on a topic dear to my heart: lazy emails. With her permission, I quote her message in its entirety.   Do You Write Lazy Emails? By Marcia Yudkin Twice last week, I...
This interesting question arrived in my email this morning:  I am a recent college graduate who regularly communicates with managers over email. At least once a week I receive an email with the opener “I apologize for the delay in replying,” followed by an explanation for the late response. How should...