Sunday, October 08, 2017

Knowing When Not to Send That Message

One of the best lessons a developing business writer can learn is not to put some things in writing. Online transactions, social media, and instant messaging have forced us to redefine the concept of privacy. Knowing that we're all over the place as it is, and our stuff might end up where it should not be, we should remember these guidelines:

  • Do not inundate readers with forgettable email strings whose shifting meaning with each addition engenders confusion.
  • Do not fire off an email to someone who has just upset you, as you'll be sure to deliver a purposeless message.
  • Do not write an email if you are wondering whether you should—go with your gut and refrain. 

Sunday, October 01, 2017

I hope you're having a nice day ...

This dialogue is a recurring one in my writing workshops:
Learner: Is it OK to open an email by writing, "I hope you're having a nice day" or "I hope all is well"? 
Phil: Do you write those openings? 
Learner: Yeah.
Phil: And no one calls you out on them?
Learner: No.
Phil: Then you answered your question.  
While I find little value in those all-too-often disingenuous statements, many managers expect their staff to open with such niceties. I do understand the importance of setting the right tone, as business depends on cultivating strong relationships. 

Meanwhile, some employees do more damage by following those gracious greetings with abrasive demands or gratuitous accusations, sending misdirected missives, copying staff who have no business receiving the message, and forwarding purposeless email strings leading nowhere. 

My point: Be your word. Don't say you hope someone is having a great day only to ruin it for them.