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Writing Course Lesson Two

In this lesson we will look at tone and etiquette in writing emails. As in all business interaction, the aim is to be polite and personable when writing emails. Develop the habit of using a conversational tone, but at the same be professional and business-like.

You want to avoid using the three S’s: sexist language, sarcasm and silly humor. Also avoid using capital letters. It indicates to your reader that you are probably in a bad mood.

Review your email carefully before sending it. Make sure you are sending the right email to your intended reader. If you work for a large company, remember your employer can read your emails.

Task 1

Suppose you receive an email from a colleague that is written entirely in capital letters and contains what you consider offensive language.

Read the responses and decide which is the more appropriate reaction by writing Yes or No. In some cases both responses may be appropriate or inappropriate. Then compare your answers with our suggested answers.

I would Yes / No I would not Yes / No
1. forward it to my employer straight away. necessarily jump to conclusion that it is rude without reading it several times.
2. ask myself what exactly bothers me about the email. tolerate such an email.
3. assume that the writer is angry with me. speak with that colleague again for a few weeks.
4. I would respond right away in an aggressive manner. respond immediately without calming down.
5. attempt to speak with the person face-to-face if possible or over the phone. respond to the writer’s phone call.
6. compose a polite response asking for clarification and review it two times before sending. send an email when I am in a bad mood.
7. keep a record of what I consider offensive emails. bother responding to the person assuming the writer was in an emotionally-charged state.
8. speak to my superior if I continued receiving what I consider rude messages from the same colleague. send a response if I was not entirely sure it was professional and polite.

Suggested answers:

I would Yes / No I would not Yes / No
1. forward it to my employer straight away. no necessarily jump to conclusion that it is rude without reading it several times. yes
2. ask myself what exactly bothers me about the email. yes tolerate such an email. no
3. assume that the writer is angry with me. no speak with that colleague again for a few weeks. no
4. I would respond right away in an aggressive manner. no respond immediately without calming down. yes
5. attempt to speak with the person face-to-face if possible or over the phone. yes respond to the writer’s phone call. no
6. compose a polite response asking for clarification and review it two times before sending. yes send an email when I am in a bad mood. yes
7. keep a record of what I consider offensive emails. yes bother responding immediately to the person assuming the writer was in an emotionally-charged state. yes
8. speak to my superior if I continued receiving what I consider rude messages from the same colleague. yes send a response if I was not entirely sure it was professional and polite. yes

Task 2

Imagine that you run a small interior design consulting business.  Here is the first draft of a complaint letter that you plan on sending to an online seller of printers.

Rewrite the email using a more polite and professional tone. Then compare your message with our suggested message.

[note]To: Harry Wallace@worldwideprinters.com
From: Linda Mathews
Sent: April 1
Subject: Terrible service

Mr. Wallace,

I’m writing this email because I’m really PISSED OFF. Four weeks ago I purchased online a PW 4170 color printer from your company. Can’t you people get anything right?

First, it took a hell of a long time for me to get it – four weeks to be exact. When the order finally arrived, it wasn’t even the right printer. Holy cow! I got a PW4150 for goodness sake. I paid $499.00 for the PW4170, while the model you sent costs $100.00 less.

I’m returning the printer to you. You better send me the model that I ordered or I’ll never do business with your company again. I demand that you pay for the shipping cost.

Yours unhappily,

Linda
International Color Consultants.com
Montreal, Canada
514 – 290 0558[/note]


Suggested email

[alert]To: Harry Wallace@worldwideprinters.com
From: Linda Mathews
Sent: April 1
Subject: Wrong printer received

Dear Mr. Wallace,

I’m writing in reference to a PW4170 color printer that I ordered online from your company on March 1. When the order arrived, the box contained a PW4150 printer. I understand that such mistakes can happen. However, I was not satisfied with the delay in delivery.

While both printers are all-in-one printers, the PW4170 is wireless network ready and is quicker than the other printer.

I’m attaching a copy of my original online order for your reference.

I would like to return the PW4150 printer and exchange it for the PW4170 I originally ordered. Please email or fax me a prepaid return authorization label or reimburse me for the return shipping cost.

I look forward to quicker delivery of the PW4170 printer.

Yours sincerely,

Linda Mathews
International Color Consultants.com
Montreal, Canada
514 – 290 0558[/alert]