Professional & Formal Writing Etiquette

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Formal Writing Etiquette

People say words once said, cannot be taken back. But when we say something that we shouldn’t have said, we apologize, make sure that the other person didn’t get us wrong, do things to rectify it and many times in my experience, people let go of those words… So sometimes, I think, they can be taken back. But words once written do much more damage than the spoken word. They, I am certain, cannot be taken back. You can delete a mail that you sent, but you cannot delete it from the recipient’s mail box. Experience the Services of the best email etiquette trainer in India and an outstanding email writing skills trainer in the country. Contact Mr. Vivek Bindra for an unforgettable training program on Business Writing, Formal Writing, Business Communication and Formal Communication skills training programs.

Consider this…

This is Raghav’s first job. He is a hard working and a dedicated person. Because of his dedication, his boss decided to give him an out of turn promotion. Now everything was going just fine when Raghav mistakenly sent one client’s mail to another client who both happened to be each other’s competitors. Because of this goof up the company lost both the accounts. No amount of sorry, no tears, nothing could turn the situation back in Raghav’s favor.

What are the 10 major points you would keep in mind when writing a mail?

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Email Writing Etiquette

Today, I am going to equip you with 9 tips and guidelines that will help you create a good impression on the reader.

As we go along, we shall do a small exercise. With each tip, I am going to give you two sentences or paragraphs (a and b) you just have to mark the one that you find better.

So let’s get going.

  1. This is to request you to come for the meeting on time. The meeting starts at 11 am. Since you are always late, I want to tell you that you must reach the venue at 11 am sharp. The meeting is scheduled to discuss why people reach office late even after changing the time from 9 am to 9.30 am. Be present for the meeting.
  2.  Hi. You are requested to be present at 11 am sharp as the meeting will start on the scheduled time without any delay. The agenda is to seek corrective measures for the lack of discipline even after revised office timings (9 am to 9.30 am).
  • Be brief: the mail must be crisp and clear (paragraph b). We tend to write long mails so that we do not miss out on anything. But somehow we forget and dilute the message in trying to explain our point in detail. If the point needs to be explained in detail, fair enough do that. But if there is no particular need to do that, then refrain from explaining everything in detail. You don’t want to be like that chatterbox aunt who calls up and refuses to say good-bye on the phone!

Karishma is a good girl who wants to make friends with her there are no hassles if you like to party she can be your best friend.

I can punctuate it in two ways:

  1. Karishma is a good girl? Who wants to make friends with her? There are no hassles if you like to party! She can be your best friend!
  2. Karishma is a good girl who wants to make friends. With her, there are no hassles. If you like to party, she can be your best friend.
  • Use punctuations wisely: Be careful with the use of punctuation and grammar as one punctuation mark can change the entire meaning of a sentence. STOP HIM NOT LET HIM GO. So, will you stop him or let him go? If I use a comma after not, “Stop him not, let him go”, then I won’t stop him. But if I put a comma after him, “Stop him, not let him go” then I will stop him. So you see the entire meaning changes with just a comma.
  1. Vasu does not keep his mailbox open all the time but has scheduled time slots in his calendar to read and respond to mails. He usually does this after every 2.5 hours for half an hour. During this time, he does not do anything else but responds to his mails.
  2. Ravi, on the other hand, gets a ping every time he receives mail. He quickly looks at it and decides whether he needs to answer it promptly or not.
  • Practice discipline: if you are in a habit (like Rabi) of looking at your mailbox throughout the day, you are in for trouble. When you read mails but do not have the time to respond to them, the sender doesn’t know whether you have received his mail or not. And because none of your mails is unread, you don’t know which ones are important and need to be replied to. If you have a time scheduled exclusively for emails, you save a lot of your time and also save the hassle of not responding promptly.
  1. Hi all. Damodar and Kabeer are going for a business trip to Canada for three weeks. Let’s do something about it.
  2. Hi all. Damodar and Kabeer are leaving for Canada for a 3 week business trip. Let’s give them a “Bon Voyage” party this weekend. I will arrange for the dinner and snacks and you guys buy them a gift. See you on Saturday.
  • Conclude with a conclusion: A mail has three parts: the introduction, the boss and the conclusion. We usually give an introduction or set the context and also write the body. But what we forget is the conclusion. After every mail that you write, there must be a conclusion stating the actionable items for the receiver.
  1. Mihir and Meena had a misunderstanding. This misunderstanding soon turned into a conflict and they started exchanging not-so-polite mails, cc’ing every team member and their bosses. Soon the news about them fighting spread like wild fire and the situation got beyond control!
  2. Mihir and Meena had a misunderstanding again! But this time round they did something else. They remembered what had happened the last time and decided to resolve the issue on their own with the help of their respective bosses.
  • Be careful with CC: when writing mails, pay attention you cc only the people required to be kept in the loop. The ones that are not required should not be involved. The same is true for “reply all” as well.
  1. Subject: Meeting with the CEO
  2. Subject: Meeting with CEO today- 10 am, Conference Hall# 3
  • Write a clear subject: subject line is written to grab the attention of the reader. What do you think would happen if there was no subject line in an email? Make sure that your subject line grabs enough attention of the reader and he/she doesn’t delete the mail even without reading it. If it is urgent or important then follow up with a phone call immediately after sending the mail.
  1. A pair of juvenescent members of the homo sapiens species attempted to scale the apex of a well-defined natural mass, which deviated considerably from the vessel in their possession. However, the juvenescent male precipitously pitched to a supine position with a consequent cranial fissure, and an ensuing vertiginous plummet by the juvenescent female conveyed her to a state of proximity.
  2. Jack & Jill, Went up the hill, To fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown, and Jill came tumbling after.

Know your audience: What you write completely depends upon the setting and the context. You won’t write a mail laden with jargon to your friend. However, if you need to send a report to your supervisor, you will not write it casually. Assess your audience and write according to them.

  1. Romina had done a blunder. She wanted to tell her boss about it. So she simply called him up, without fearing the consequences. She knew how to own up her mistakes! The boss appreciated her calling him up and together they worked on making amends.
  2. Kartik, on the other hand, committed a mistake. He took the day off and wrote a mail to the boss, explaining him the situation. The boss was angry upon reading it and responded to the mail by asking him to stay at home indefinitely!
  • Do not email to avoid calling: email is not a substitute for a face to face meeting or a call. In grave situations, mails only create more confusion and misunderstandings.
  1. Out of office response: Hi I am OOO and will respond to emails only after I come back. Please expect a delay in response. Cheers!
  2. Out of office response: Hi I am OOO from 22nd January to 30th January with no access to emails. Please expect a delay in response. Cheers!
  • Draft a clear Out Of Office response: When drafting an “out of office” ensure that you mention the dates you are unavailable and also whether you have an access to emails or not. This is done to set expectations for the reader.

Last but the most important point is to edit before sending! It is important to review the document, check it for spelling and conceptual errors, and check whether you are sending it to the right person or not.

“It is better to be safe than sorry”. Once you hit the send tab, the mail will be sent. Then there is no point regretting later. So make these guidelines a habit in order to make the best of email communication.

To keep yourself motivated like our Facebook Page Daily Motivation by Dr. Vivek Bindra and subscribe to our YouTube Channel for more Inspirational videos.

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