The world isn’t formal anymore. We get it. We work in shared spaces with cafes, casual Fridays are the everyday norm and marketing has become king (R&D is not a priority). Yet, there is one thing that will always be a faux pas; namely, writing. In our incessant need to rush everything, and urge to move on to the next task, we have become enamored with informal writing. Passive voice, texting formats and misspelling are commonplace, and quite frankly...IT NEEDS TO STOP.
Here is a typical email exchange that reads more like texting your bestie about your weekend plans in Vegas:
Send the files over ASAP.
Yeah, but need authorization code to procees cause my manager has been dogging me for breaking protocol.
The above is not only typical, but exemplifies four major issues we encounter with all email writing:
Not being specific.
Saying too much.
Here’s the same email exchange, written with the above considerations in mind:
Dear Anon B:
Good afternoon. Our department respectfully requests the Smith files by close of business.
Thank you in advance.
Dear Anon A:
Good Afternoon. We have received the legal department’s request for all files pertaining to the Smith matter; however, you did not attach the Request Form to your email. We cannot process your request without this document.
In the subsequent approach to email writing, both parties are clear. Anon A formally requests documents, while Anon B sites that a Request Form must be completed before proceeding.
Anon A is precise as to who is requesting the documents and the timeframe. The formality is overcome by his/her oversight as to the Request Form; however, Anon A’s professional approach causes Anon B to be respectful in their reply. Oversights happen all the time, it is about resolving issues quickly, not throwing each other under the bus. Yet, we put the oversight into this example to show that you should always review every correspondence before you send it out. Avoid misspellings, avoid not attaching required forms and avoid saying too much by reading your emails over.
SOYD PRO TIP: READ YOUR EMAILS ALOUD. When you read things to yourself, your mind overlooks misspellings.
Secondly, Anon B’s approach in the second email exchange addresses everything required and closes immediately thereafter. In the first email exchange, Anon B provides information irrelevant to the exchange, “my manager has been dogging me…”. This is wholly inappropriate, yet because there is a lax approach, one easily devolves into informal exchanges where too much is discussed. The liability Anon B exposes their department to in this email is often times overlooked, and it goes a long way to show that less is definitely more. You may say, what liability? An email exchange where negligence is discussed is a huge issue. This seemingly innocuous exchange could in and of itself lead to a human resource’s investigation, a third party being ruled in favor of in subsequent litigation or any other of a number of negative outcomes. Formality is king in business.
Say what is required, then shut up.
We are always fascinated by how many people we encounter in our workshops and classes that don’t understand why we spend three to four classes on business writing.
Our response: Communications makes or breaks your business.
As a comprehensive consulting firm focused on business development, SOYD is committed to providing the necessary platforms and deliverables for your business. SOYD has a proven track record for growing businesses, formalizing deliverables and educating business owners on day-to-day operations.
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