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E-MAIL WRITING

5 C’S OF E-MAIL WRITING
ompleteness orrectness larity onciseness onsideration

6 A’S OF LEARNING
Attitude Attendance Active Participation Adaptation Application AHA!

WRITING IN THE AGE OF TECHNOLOGY

Using the e-mail in business is COMPANY TO COMPANY e-MAIL, and should not be confused with e-mail between business colleagues.

1999 COMPANY E-MAIL ABUSE SURVEY
American Management Association 805 Respondents
60.2% 55.1% 60.9% circulate adult-oriented e-mail send and receive offensive e-mail use the company e-mail for personal purposes

2003 COMPANY E-MAIL ABUSE SURVEY
American Management Association 1,100 Respondents • 22% – fired an employee for abusing corporate email facilities • 14% - have been ordered by the court or a regulatory body to produce employee email
Source: American Management Association ePolicy Institute, and Clearswift

2003 COMPANY E-MAIL ABUSE SURVEY
American Management Association 1,100 Respondents • 25% of the working day is spent on email • 75% of employees surveyed have lost time due to email system problems

Source: American Management Association ePolicy Institute, and Clearswift

BUSINESS NETIQUETTE: E-Mail Guidelines
DO • Take care with your choice of words. Sarcasm and humor can be easily misinterpreted. • Re-read your message prior to sending it. • Reply promptly. • Reply only to the appropriate party, not to “all recipients”. • Ask before sending attachments. • Tell others why you are sending an attachment and state what it is. • Keep paragraphs short. • Put a blank line between paragraphs.

BUSINESS NETIQUETTE: E-Mail Guidelines
DON’T • Type in all capital letters unless you are shouting. • Use the company e-mail system for personal correspondences. • Use smileys. • Spam. • Send jokes or chain letters through the company e-mail system. • Forward a message unless you are certain that it is true. • Forward a message without adding your own note to tell the recipient why. • Cry wolf with “Urgent” subject lines.

E-MAIL MANAGEMENT
1. Check in-box regularly but do not be chained to it. 2. Use LIFO. 3. Make a habit of doing something with all e-mails on first read. 4. Prioritize your reading according to urgency. 5. Maintain your files responsibly.

E-MAIL MANAGEMENT
6. Delete unnecessary files 7. Set up folders that makes sense to you. 8. Save necessary files in “thin” folders. 9. Archive routinely for a specified period. 10. Notify readers when you are away.

TOO MUCH E-MAIL?
• Don’t hesitate to add: “No Reply Needed”. • Think before hitting the “Reply to All” button. • Use bullets. • Cut down on “Thanks” or “Okay” replies. • Recognize spam subject lines.

PROVIDING CONTEXT
1. IDENTIFYING YOURSELF ON FIRST CONTACT
• Who are you? • What do you want? • How did you learn of the recipient? His e-mail address? • Why should he pay attention to you?

2. THE SUBJECT LINE
• Short and to the point • Informative and updated • Nature of message indicated - “URGENT” - “FYI”

MAINTAINING THREADS
• Quote only referent parts before giving your response. • Put blank spaces between quotes and responses. • Delete original/previous exchanges. • Be sure antecedents of pronouns are clear.

E-MAIL SIGNATURES
• Give your full name and alternate ways of reaching you. • Include your company name and your designation and/or department. • Keep to 5 lines or less. • Update regularly.

WORLDS OF WRITING
Academic
Letters Memos

W R I T I N G

Business

E-mail Proposals Reports

Literary

Commun

icatio

n Proc es s

COMMUNICATION PROCESS
THE WRITER THE DOCUMENT THE READER

information and ideas

coded into symbols

transmitted

mechanical channel

decoded into ideas

destination

SEMANTIC NOISES

MECHANICAL NOISES

PSYCHOLOGICAL NOISES

NOISES IN COMMUNICATION
Semantic Noises • Incorrect word choice • Weak sentence and paragraph structure • Grammatical errors • Poor organization of ideas

NOISES IN COMMUNICATION
Semantic Noises • Incorrect word choice • Weak sentence and paragraph structure • Grammatical errors • Poor organization of ideas • • • • Typographical errors Cluttered layout Unfriendly format Poor quality of paper

Mechanical Noises

Psychological Noises • Offensive or discourteous tone

OBJECTIVES OF COMMUNICATION
• Be understood • Understand others • Get agreement • Get something done

?

When you write, what objectives do you keep in mind? Are they consistent with your reader’s objectives?

WRITING PROCESS

Proofread Edit Revise Draft Plan

POLISHING AND PACKAGING

“In any type of writing, no sentence
can be both accurate and grammatical when written after 4:30 on Friday. However, the error will be obvious by the first coffee break on Monday.”
- William Horton

SIX-POINT CHECKLIST FOR REVIEWING AND EDITING
Is the content correct? Are the words clear? Are the ideas divided properly into sentences? Is the “conclusion” at the beginning? Is the tone courteous? Are there headings to help the reader?

WHAT TO PROOFREAD
• Spelling • Punctuation • Alignment of Sentences/Paragraphs • Line Spacing • Margins

HOW TO PROOFREAD
• Read slowly and subvocalize. • When you find an error, re-read the entire sentence. • Check for consistency in format. • Watch out for common errors. • Take a break from writing before proofreading.

ELECTRONIC TOOLS
“Don’t turn your computer on and your brain off.”

COMPUTERS & WRITERS
CAN
• Check spelling

CAN’T
• Catch ALL misspelled words

“Dew knot trussed yore spell chequer two fined awl yore mistakes.”

COMPUTERS & WRITERS
CAN
• Check spelling • Warn you about potential grammar problems • Make rearranging text easy • Evaluate readability

CAN’T
• Catch ALL misspelled words • Correct most grammar errors

• Organize ideas for you

• Make your ideas easy to read (and understand)

ERROR-FREE CORRESPONDENCES
• Check all names and numbers. • Watch out for misused or misspelled homophones. • Look out for repeated words. • Check dates against the calendar. • Check for omissions. • Make sure spelling, grammar and punctuation are correct.

ERROR-FREE CORRESPONDENCES
• Look for parallel structure. • Print out the message and read the hard copy. • Get a second opinion. • Read from bottom to top or from right to left. • Scan the document to see that it looks right.

ORGANIZATION

HOW TO BEGIN
• Begin directly except in bad-news message. • Use a buffer. • Avoid trite beginnings.

WHAT TO AVOID
• in response to • with reference to • in accordance with • relative to • as per our meeting • this is to inform you

HOW TO BEGIN
• Begin directly except in bad-news message. • Use a buffer. • Avoid trite beginnings. • Make the beginning clear and concise. • Don’t merely repeat what the reader told you.

TIPS IN WRITING YOUR FIRST PARAGRAPH
INSTEAD OF: Replying to yours of Feb. 14, we wish to state that our accountant has been working for a long time on the problem that you mentioned and has finally succeeded in solving it. The amount of $10,000 has been deposited to your account. This covers invoice # 21267. Thank you for the additional information that you provided last Feb. 14. It helped us speed up the processing of the invoice.

SAY:

THE FINAL PARAGRAPH
STOP When the message is complete.

MINDSTICKER

Make it easy for the reader to take action or to accept the point of view of the writer.

OUR FAVORITE ENDINGS
• I appreciate your assistance on this query. • Thank you. • Let me know if you have questions. • Let me know if I could be of further assistance. • If you have any question, you may email us at [email protected] or call our hotline 123-456-7890.

HOW TO END
• Be action-oriented. • Request definite action and date. • Set deadlines for the requests you make. • Avoid participial closing and prepositional phrases. • Don’t give the reader the option to reject the proposal.

BE CLEAR and CONCISE

PRINCIPLES OF CLARITY
1. Prefer clear and familiar words. 2. Keep it short and simple. 3. Prefer active voice. 4. Get people into your writing. 5. Use a conversational style. 6. Gather all your information before you start writing.

CLARITY
PRINCIPLE 1
Prefer clear, familiar words • Easy to understand • More precise
Conflagration? Domicile? Discombobulate?

WHAT DO YOU MEAN?
Management has become cognizant of the necessity of eliminating undesirable vegetation surrounding the periphery of our facility.

Please kill the weeds around the building.

FAMILIAR?
Instead of Ascertain Consummate Peruse Circumvent Unequivocal Use Find out, learn Close; bring about Read; study Avoid Certain

PRECISION IN THE USE OF WORDS
• Know what words mean. • Avoid vague words. • Leave out unnecessary words. • Use simple, familiar and concrete words. • Avoid overworked words and phrases. • Avoid technical jargon.

CLARITY
PRINCIPLE 2
Keep it short and simple • Easy to read and write • One major idea in a sentence • “Meat cleaver” technique

VERBAL DIETING

conduct an investigation first initiated we are of the opinion whether or not due to the fact that

SPOT REDUNDANCIES
The staff meeting will start at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday morning.

First and foremost, our primary goal of the meeting will be to reach a consensus of opinion about the best way to utilize the high degree of expertise of the consultant we brought in. The consultant advised us about the future plans for implementing new state-of-the-art developments in database administration. At this point in time, we must prioritize in order of importance those basic and fundamental changes we believe are most important to modify in our current system.

SENTENCE LENGTH
I should greatly appreciate your letting me know what your decision is regarding the follow-up of the payment of invoice of ABC vendor so that I can forward your decision to John in our Hong Kong office with either a request for more information which we will need to come up with a solution and to encourage him to make any suggestions he may want to incorporate or a confirmation of the processing.

(One sentence, 73 words)

SENTENCE LENGTH
Please let me know what is the next step we will take on the email I sent you following-up the payment of invoice of ABC vendor. Do we need more information from John in the Hong Kong office to resolve this? Or do we start processing the payment given the information you have?

(Three sentences, 53 words)

SENTENCE STRUCTURE
• Natural word order • Simple sentence structure • Short sentences • Variety to avoid monotony

PARAGRAPH STRUCTURE
• Building block • Eye muscle relief • Short paragraph Use headings White space Not more than 10 lines

RULES OF BREVITY
• Get rid of wasted words but do not sacrifice ideas.

• Courtesy is important; much brevity may cause the tone to sound blunt and overbearing.

RULES OF BREVITY
Not: Please return the documents by Feb. 20. Do not sign the form. But: We’re working against a tight timeline on this project, so please return the documents by Feb. 20. Also, kindly leave the form unsigned. May we dress casually for the office party? Not: No. But: No. According to HR, the proper attire is business dress.

BULLETS OR NUMBERS

• Equal value • Rank or sequence unimportant

• Order of priority • Steps in a procedure • Easy reference

TIPS IN LISTING
• List only similar items. • Be parallel and consistent.

IMPROVE THE PARALLELISM
• Review the SL-1 and Option 11 installed base. • Acceptance Certification for Bankers, Digos and IVRS. • Check and confirm the hardware.

TIPS IN LISTING
• List only similar items. • Be parallel and consistent. • Use words, phrases or short sentences. • Provide transition. • Don’t overuse lists. • Indent long lists.

CLARITY
PRINCIPLE 3
Prefer active voice. • • • • Specific Direct Concise Emphatic

But use passive voice to • • • • Soften bad news Put yourself in the background Create an impersonal tone Be objective in reporting

ACTIVE VS PASSIVE

Revise the policies.

ACTIVE VS PASSIVE Eighteen clients have been investigated for fraudulent claims.

ACTIVE VS PASSIVE

Separate requisitions should be prepared by each officer.

ACTIVE VS PASSIVE

You should carefully explain the policies to all clients before the program is initiated.

ACTIVE VS PASSIVE

The study was completed by the supervisors.

ACTIVE VS PASSIVE

We committed a mistake.

ACTIVE VS PASSIVE

The Audit Department uncovered several deficiencies during the audit.

ACTIVE VS PASSIVE

You prepared the reports incorrectly.

ACTIVE VS PASSIVE

The incident was never investigated.

ACTIVE VS PASSIVE

It has been decided that incentive awards will no longer be given.

CLARITY
PRINCIPLE 4
Get people into your writing • Refer to people and companies by their names.

Undersigned?

Your good office

CLARITY
PRINCIPLE 5
Use a conversational style.
Upon procurement of additional supplies, I will initiate fulfillment of your order.

I will fill your order when I receive more supplies.

INFORMAL? CONVERSATIONAL!
Not: Look over the stuff and kick it back with your input. But: Please review the materials and give me your feedback. Not: FYI, I’m outta here for the rest of the week. But: I’ll be traveling for the rest of the week. For urgent concerns, please coordinate with… Not: My bad!

CONVERSATIONAL? POMPOUS!
Undersigned hereby respectfully requests for a copy of the presentation submitted to the Human Resources. The same will be used as our reference for a study our Team is conducting in relation to talent acquisition and workforce management, which have been crucial issues for the company in the last months. The report our group will come up with is also geared towards resolving this undoubtedly pressing matter that affects the lives of our co-employees.

CLARITY
PRINCIPLE 6
Gather all your information before you start writing. • Think out your ideas clearly. • Have all the information needed at hand.

BE CONSIDERATE

CONSIDERATION

T

N E O

APPROPRIATE STYLE AND TONE
• Relationship to the reader • Subject of the email • Purpose of the email

WAYS TO INDICATE CONSIDERATION
• Focus on the you attitude.

“WE” OR “I” vs. “YOU”
I want to send my congratulations. . . We will send the report on Feb. 22. . . We want you to take advantage of our services. . . Congratulations on your. . .

You should receive the report by Feb. 22. . . You are invited to use our free. . .

WAYS TO INDICATE CONSIDERATION
• Focus on the you attitude. • Show reader benefits. • Emphasize positive and pleasant facts. Highlight what you can do NOT what you cannot do.

USE OF EUPHEMISMS

Complaints Department Downpayment Problem Boss Plain-looking

GENDER NEUTRALITY

Forefather Cameraman Mankind Delivery boy Newsman

GENDER NEUTRALITY
• Reword the sentence. • Avoid gender judgment in job title • Use gender-neutral term. • Think plural.

WAYS TO INDICATE CONSIDERATION
• Focus on the you attitude. • Show reader benefits. • Emphasize positive and pleasant facts. Highlight what you can do NOT what you cannot do. • Show empathy. • Be courteous and tactful. • Apply integrity and ethics.

WORDS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
• The facts not the person • “I” or “You” or “We” • Suggestions not orders • What can be done

HURTING OR IRRITATING EXPRESSIONS
we must insist we don’t believe your apparent disregard your insinuation your failure questionable credit contrary to your inference delinquency irresponsible inexcusable you claim you forgot you ignored you neglected you overlooked

CONVEYING BAD NEWS TACTFULLY
NOT: BUT: NOT: BUT: NOT: BUT: You failed to notice… May I point out that… You neglect to mention… We also can consider… You overlooked the fact… One additional fact is…

CONVEYING BAD NEWS TACTFULLY
NOT: BUT: NOT: BUT: You missed the point… From another perspective… I see no alternative but… Our clear plan of action…

PLAN SHEET
Why ________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________

What

Who

How

DIRECT APPROACH
Purpose

Details

Action

BASIC ORGANIZATIONAL PLANS
DIRECT (Deductive) APPROACH
Direct-Request Plan • Main Idea • Explanation - Details - Questions • Courteous Close - Statement of action desired - Dated action, when desirable - Appreciation and goodwill

INDIRECT APPROACH
Buffer

Details

Main Idea

Goodwill

USING A BUFFER
• Keep it short. • Have a clear connection. • Don’t mislead. • Be sincere and truthful.

BUFFER
AGREEMENT Agree with your reader on something, if possible (perhaps business conditions, costs, or any other pertinent item.)

APPRECIATION Thank the reader (for a check, information, application, request, inquiry, cooperation, or whatever applies.) ASSURANCE Assure the reader of careful consideration and explanation of all available facts about the problem. Try to compliment the reader on something good about his or her past record or request (sincerity, careful listing of facts.)

COMPLIMENT

BUFFER
COOPERATION Show a sincere desire to be as helpful as possible. If you can grant any part of a request and your think your reader will be pleased, begin with that good news. Keep your opening paragraph noncommittal. For instance, if you must announce an unfavorable price increase or service decrease, us neutral words such as “needed change.”

GOOD NEWS

NEUTRAL COURTESY

UNDERSTANDING Show you understand or sympathize with the reader’s problem (desire to have a dependable product, to pay at least a partial amount due.)

BUFFER STATEMENTS
AGREEMENT
“Close coordination is truly essential between our departments.”

APPRECIATION
“Thank you for your interest in our services.”

ASSURANCE
“The evaluation committee has carefully studied the details of your proposal.”

COMPLIMENT
“Your honest feedback has always given us opportunities to review and improve our processes.”

BUFFER STATEMENTS
COOPERATION “We would like to work closely with you to ensure that the incident you brought to our attention will not happen again.” NEUTRAL “The recent fluctuations in the peso-dollar exchange rate have resulted in significant increases in the cost of our raw materials.” UNDERSTANDING “We understand that your industry is one of those hardest hit by the current economic difficulties the country is experiencing.”

BASIC ORGANIZATIONAL PLANS
INDIRECT (Inductive) APPROACH
Bad-News Plan • Buffer • Explanation - Details - Pertinent favorable, and then unfavorable facts - Reader-benefit reasons • Decision (implied or expressed) • Positive, friendly close

BASIC ORGANIZATIONAL PLANS
INDIRECT (Inductive) APPROACH
Persuasive-Request Plan
• Attention - Reader-benefit - Reader-interest • Interest - Details - Appeals - Reader benefits • Desire - State of request - Conviction material to help create reader’s desire • Action - Statement of action desired - Special inducement

LET YOUR IDEAS FLOW

28 Years

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