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Lynn Gaertner-Johnston
I'm Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, founder of Syntax Training in Seattle, Washington, and a fan of business writing.
Recent Activity
Hi Deborah, Thanks for correcting me! I guess I should have realized that the writer was a customer. The word "invoice" should have made it clear to me, but I was focused on the errors. This changes everything. As you said, one certainly can't ignore or correct a client (although sometimes my job IS to correct clients). And you would not want to fire a client. With things like "a.m." as "above-mentioned," I would go crazy. Thanks for clarifying. Lynn
Hi Susannah, Sometimes I feel like being seriously picky too, and that feeling ends up in a blog post. I wonder whether anyone has ever responded to your feedback. Do you recall a situation? Lynn
Hi Bart, That's an interesting approach. Unlike you, I rarely provide corrections, especially with strangers. It just takes too much time. It occurs to me that when you block further emails, you close the door on receiving a possible thank-you. I would wonder how the other person felt about receiving the input. Do you ever wonder? Thanks for commenting. Lynn
Deborah, thanks for this example. I just wrote about it here: Lynn
Toggle Commented 7 days ago on Should You "Dumb It Down"? at Business Writing
Hi Deborah, Welcome to being human! I hope you find the checklist helpful--even Number 12. Thanks for your comment. Lynn
Hi Tommaso, Thanks for that example. When people add a new topic to an email reply, it should be a new email instead. A mix of subjects in emails does slow down and annoy readers--unless all the subjects fall under one umbrella. For example, if I sent you an email about all the tasks I had accomplished, those tasks might fall into many categories, but all would be under the umbrella of my accomplishments. Thanks for stopping by. Lynn
Hi George, Thanks for your excellent example. That subject is not only stale--it's misleading. I have covered the topic several times as part of email tips. One blog post goes back 10 years: Thanks for commenting. Lynn
Hi Nancy, I'm stumped. Where is the error? Or are you teasing me? Lynn
George, I enjoyed your perfect example. Staring at HTH doesn't help me recognize it. Lynn
Toggle Commented Sep 10, 2018 on Should You "Dumb It Down"? at Business Writing
Beverly, I would not trust anything in that blurb. It sounds like a scam. Thanks for sharing it. Lynn
Judi, thank you for being a fan and for taking the time to comment. Lynn
Toggle Commented Sep 7, 2018 on Should You "Dumb It Down"? at Business Writing
Thank you, Chanaka. I have fixed it. Lynn
Toggle Commented Sep 7, 2018 on Should You "Dumb It Down"? at Business Writing
Hi Adriana, I appreciate learning about your experience with the sentence "Thank you for understanding." It seems that the person who writes to you is overusing it. Each situation is different, of course. But I wonder whether any of these sentences would be helpful to you in your response: "This situation is unfortunate. I would like to talk with you about how we can avoid it in the future." "Unfortunately, I can't respond positively to this request." "I'm afraid this solution will not work for me and my team. Can we meet to look for other options?" "I do understand the situation, but it's not workable for me. I'm sorry that I won't be able to accommodate your request." If you feel you are being taken advantage of, perhaps some of the language above can be helpful to you. Good luck! Lynn
Hello Dainis, Thank you for your interesting comment. I do not agree that it's aggressive or mean to say thank you for something you're assuming. I believe that each situation is different and that each reader decides how to feel about such thanks. On the other hand, I do not like the phrase "Thank you in advance" for the reasons I mention in this blog post: Lynn
Hello L, I agree that sometimes a message can be communicated efficiently in email. But for the reasons I mentioned above, an attachment often works better. Lynn
Hi Deborah, Thanks for stopping by. It's not a pointless rant--you make good points. I agree that those who care the most have to do the most work. That seems to be true in many aspects of life. Lynn
Toggle Commented Aug 24, 2018 on I Should Have Known Better at Business Writing
Hi Jennifer, I like the way you clarify the times. Thanks for your suggestion. Lynn
Toggle Commented Aug 24, 2018 on I Should Have Known Better at Business Writing
Kelly, you are welcome. And thanks for noticing that catchy Beatles song title. Lynn
Toggle Commented Aug 23, 2018 on I Should Have Known Better at Business Writing
Hi George, I agree with you about the value of brevity. I also agree that the word "impossible" was a problem. Still, in my experience "any day except" often doesn't work either. In the blog post I linked to from many years ago, here's what happened: I wrote, "I can get together any day except Friday." She wrote back, "Great! I'll come to your office on Friday." When I see "open Tuesday through Sunday" at a museum, I realize immediately that Monday is excluded. Although longer, I think that phrasing works in general writing too. As always, I appreciate your views. Lynn
Toggle Commented Aug 22, 2018 on I Should Have Known Better at Business Writing
Hi Kelly, I like your 12 p.m. example. How do you write it to get the answer you need? I would try "I'm available from 12:15 on" or "I'm available from 12:15 to 2 p.m." The "or" situation is familiar in my personal life. After I get the yes or no answer from my husband or daughter, I find myself saying, "That was an OR question." In business writing, I would probably phrase that with bullets, like this: Which would you prefer: -- Enable . . . OR -- Edit the settings Thanks for commenting. I appreciate your input. Lynn
Toggle Commented Aug 22, 2018 on I Should Have Known Better at Business Writing
Carlos, that's an interesting idea. The staff member registering the guest might point out that wet clothing can be placed on the balcony chairs, not the railings. That would be memorable. Or a small printed note might come with the room key. Thanks for your thoughts. Lynn
Deborah, great point. Thanks for stopping by. Lynn
Ellen, thanks for these good points. The only one I would caution you about is "more notes to add." Frequently additional content is not what notes need. They need the essentials: decisions, action items, key points. Thanks for stopping by. Lynn
Hello George, John, Laura, and Emily. Thanks for your views on the hotel's message. George, I appreciate your excellent suggestion about the sign. Because I was relaxed and thinking about the beach, it's possible there was a sign in the room that I missed. But I'm pretty sure there wasn't one on the balcony. Such a sign would be likely to reduce the number of offenders, as you said. John, I like the way you think about the issue. The printed note is easy to slip under doors, but as George mentioned, the note needs to be placed under the right doors. That takes some effort. Laura, your feelings match mine. I was happy to save the note as a good example. Emily, good idea. I agree that in a tropical climate the items will dry faster on the balcony than in the bathroom--just not on the balcony railing! Lynn
Hi Laura, Thanks for your comment! I appreciate having you as a loyal reader. I also appreciate Marcia, who has been teaching me important things for many years. Lynn