Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Art of E-Mail Writing, Part 3

This excerpt of The Art of E-Mail Writing includes 2 of 21 premises that lay the foundation of the book. They appear in chapter 3, which discusses reader awareness and completeness. The Art of E-Mail Writing is available from First Books (


Premise 12: Some questions are statements. Have you noticed that some questions aren’t questions at all? For instance, if you showed up five minutes late to work, your boss might say, “Do you think that you can get in on time?” In this context, that question sounds like a demand. What if you looked around the office and noticed that no one else was in yet. You might respond,
“Am I late?” You are implying that everyone else is later than you are, so your boss should hold everyone to the same standard, or you are insisting that you are not late relative to everyone else.
Conversely, we don’t always frame our questions as questions:

Premise 13: Some statements are questions. For instance, if someone said to you, “I don’t know how to get onto the highway,” you would assume that you have been asked to provide driving directions. If a child stated, “I’m hungry,” you would hear the question, “Would you give me something to eat?” If an adult made the same statement, you might hear the question, “Where is the company cafeteria or the nearest restaurant?”

To purchase your copy of The Art of On-the-Job Writing by Philip Vassallo, click here:

Coming Soon! The Art of E-Mail Writing by Philip Vassallo, also through First Books: