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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
Laura, thanks for making the excellent point about writing to the audience. Lynn
Thanks for stopping by, Robin.
You make a great point, Deborah. My husband, who does not drink, repeatedly received a bottle of wine as a gift from some neighbors. He would always give it to me. Finally, one day when we were at their house, he mentioned that he did not drink when offered something. They stopped giving him gifts of wine. Should we have told them sooner? Probably. The first time they gave him wine, he might have said, "Thank you. Lynn will enjoy this. I actually don't drink." Lynn
Pamela, I agree. Prompt thanks are ideal, but belated thanks are still thank-yous. I would never let the passage of time get in the way of expressing appreciation. I like your wording: "It does not have an expiration date." I have not yet received a thank-you for a wedding gift I mailed 18 months ago (and I know it arrived). But if I received a gracious note from the couple today, I would be delighted. In Keith Ferrazzi's book "Never Eat Alone" he mentioned that he always notices the first thank-yous he receives, for example, after a keynote speech. In his case, being prompt increases one's chances of being noticed. I bet the same is true when applicants write thank-yous for interviews. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Lynn
Toggle Commented Jun 14, 2018 on How to Write Mighty Thank-Yous at Business Writing
Thank you for commenting, Elena, Gregg, Rob, and Lydia. I loved hearing from you. Greg, I agree that saying thank you SHOULD be common sense, yet many people, especially young adults, are falling short. Rob, I'm glad you appreciated the advice on saying thank you even if we don't like the gift. It's so important. On one of your other points, I think it's fine to thank people twice. What makes me grin is the surprising number of times people end a message with "Thanks again" when they haven't said thank you to begin with. Lydia, I wholeheartedly agree about the personal note. I received one this week in a beautiful card, which now stands on my mantel as a happy reminder of the sender. At the same time, I want to encourage people to send written thanks in whatever way works for them. An email or even a text is much better than no thanks at all. (I wish my nephew would read that sentence!) Lynn
Toggle Commented Jun 14, 2018 on How to Write Mighty Thank-Yous at Business Writing
Thank you, Frances!
Toggle Commented Jun 13, 2018 on When Messaging Is Mindless at Business Writing
Hi Andrea, That way of beginning an email is incorrect. Of course, the message is "TO Andrea." Your name is on the To line of the email! Please spread the word that such an opening is incorrect. Other options are: Hi Andrea, Hello Andrea, Dear Andrea, [formal for an internal message] Good morning, Andrea. Andrea, I would like to inform . . . Good luck! Lynn
Thanks again, everyone, for your comments. Sanjay, I'm glad you will be sending thanks in writing after reading this post. However, please note that many people are happy to receive an oral thank-you in person. Walker, thanks for bringing up the idea of being "obligated." I believe that even when people love a gift--for example, a wedding gift--their belief that society obligates them to write a thank-you is probably what moves them to get it done. What also moves me to write or call is the belief that people will be delighted to receive my thanks. Elaine, you and I agree completely. Thanks for commenting. M. Wood, I'm not sure what causes many young people not to express their thanks. I haven't received thanks yet for a gift card I gave a young couple for their wedding 18 months ago. It was a card for one of their favorite stores. I haven't received thanks from my nephew for generous birthday and Christmas gifts I sent last year. The lack of thanks certainly demotivates my future giving to him. L M, thanks for sharing your view. I confirmed that the most recent Emily Post etiquette guide says this: "If you open a gift in the presence of the giver, then your verbal thanks are sufficient." It also notes that shower and wedding gifts traditionally require written thanks. Rachel, thanks for sharing your experiences. Like you, I like to receive (and to write) thanks for hospitality. It's fun to find a note or card in the mail and remember the happy visit. Teresa, my feelings match yours, and that's one of the reasons I wanted to get more opinions. I simply feel bad when I happily find the perfect card, send the perfect gift, and then hear nothing in response. Karen, thanks for sharing your personal experience with employees. I imagine a millennial who did thank you in writing would impress you. Bart, I always appreciate your opinion. And you may be surprised to hear that I know of at least one young adult who doesn't know anything about postage stamps or how to buy them. His world is just electronic. Jackie, my experience matches yours. Thanks for commenting. Devon, thanks again for pointing out the millennial bashing. Also, I love what your daughter has learned from you. Anita, the stash of thank-you notes is brilliant. Thanks for telling us about it. I really appreciate hearing everyone's helpful views on thank-yous. Thank you for taking the time to write. Lynn
Hi Meg, I am so sorry about your loss. Please accept my sympathy and allow me to help by responding to your comment. Thank you for sharing it. No one who cares about you would want you to take on any grueling task at this time. My view is that if writing notes to thank people for their sympathy and kindnesses helps you to feel better and to feel connected to them, do it. If it causes you distress, don't--or don't do it until you want to. You never need to thank people for pre-printed cards with very brief messages--again, unless you want to. Here's what Emily Post says: "Handwritten condolence notes, flowers, Mass cards, contributions to charities, and acts of kindness should always be acknowledged (by the recipient, if possible). . . . Preprinted cards with no personal message, emailed notes of condolence, online sympathy notes, and visits to the funeral home or the service don't need to be acknowledged in writing. Letters of thanks are customarily written to pallbearers, honorary pallbearers, ushers, eulogists, and readers." So that's the Emily Post gold standard. But do what works for you. For the messages you want to write, perhaps sitting down in a lovely spot with a dear friend, favorite pet, or glass of wine will make the experience more centering for you. This blog post I wrote many years ago includes some brief examples: http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2005/11/placeholder.html Here are some other ideas: http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2006/09/thanking_a_grou.html I hope these ideas are helpful to you. Lynn
Thank you, Sanjay, Walker, Elaine, M. Wood, L M, Rachel, Teresa, Karen, Bart, Jackie, Devon, and Anita. I appreciate hearing your views and experiences. Devon, I love your reminder that boomers raised millennials. And I am impressed with your daughter! I remind my daughter (age 24), and she always writes thank-yous for people who send her a gift. If she receives it in person, she thanks them in person. I'm going to wait a day to respond in detail. Thanks so much for contributing, everyone. Lynn
Hi Deborah! Good point. Number 2 is the only one that offers guidance, with its graphic. I'm guessing that the creators of the signs wanted to answer the question "Should I flush this item or put it in the trash?" For that reason, they focused on telling readers to put it in the trash. Nice to hear from you! Lynn
Thanks for your votes, Alex, Jennifer Ann Elizabeth, Dinah, Jeff, Camilla, Tommaso, John, and Eliza. I agree that the wording in Number 1 is excellent. It's clear, direct (with soberness, as Tommaso said), and complete. As John said, it gives the why--simply, unlike Number 3. But Number 1 needs to be in Spanish too, like Dinah's preference, Number 2. After all, this IS Costa Rica. As Dinah noted, Spanish and visuals meet the needs of everyone. Like Camilla, I do like the short text and graphics in Number 2--except for the arrow pointing from the toilet to the toilet paper, which Jeff pointed out. He also mentioned the problem with Number 2, which is the phrase "paper towels." "Paper products" or simply "paper" would be preferable. Like Eliza, I agree with John. His comments express my views clearly and concisely. Thanks for participating, everybody! Lynn
Hi Deborah, Thank you so much for your kind comment! I was traveling for six weeks. But when I came home, I didn't feel great for several weeks. Now I am finally back to myself and will post something soon. Lynn
Toggle Commented May 29, 2018 on How to Edit, Fix, and Polish at Business Writing
Roger, thanks for stopping by with a comment. I'm someone who often does not use "You're welcome," but then later I wish I had ended the exchange more politely. I guess you are right. Lynn
Thanks, Norman. I am glad you appreciated the recommendations. Lynn
Hello Farhan, I don't understand the significance of "which I brought to your company." You might write simply this: Attached is the signed contract for your reference. Lynn
Olivia, you are welcome. Lynn
Toggle Commented May 17, 2018 on How to Edit, Fix, and Polish at Business Writing
Hi Carter, Unfortunately, the period is wrong. If you use it, people may think you lack attention to detail or have vision problems. Lynn
Toggle Commented May 17, 2018 on Stop These Creeping Commas! at Business Writing
Hi John, Thanks for your thoughts. I agree with you and your reasoning. It was not my assumption that the memo would be printed--only that it might be. Lynn
Hi Andrea, I would definitely insert the word "his" before "wife." It's clearer and more professional. You have a choice about the commas. Most style manuals recommend that you use them around "Cheryl," and I recommend their use too. However, some style guides feel they are not necessary with a sentence that flows easily like yours. Lynn
Toggle Commented May 9, 2018 on My Husband Comma Michael Comma at Business Writing
K, Try writing the rest of the letter, and then come back to your opening sentence. The right opening may be clear to you then. Also, type the word "persuasive" in the search box on this website, and see what you find. Lynn
Hi Rod, Thanks for your gracious response. We both learned something from your original comment. Lynn
Toggle Commented May 1, 2018 on How to Edit, Fix, and Polish at Business Writing
Hi Rod, Interesting suggestion! My wording communicates what I intended: "what the document needs [in order] to be a final product." For example, what needs to be added to it? The wording you suggest communicates something different: As a final product, what does the document need to be? Lynn
Toggle Commented Apr 27, 2018 on How to Edit, Fix, and Polish at Business Writing
Violet, thank you for taking the time to share positive feedback. Lynn
Toggle Commented Apr 24, 2018 on British vs. US Spellings at Business Writing
Pamela, thanks for the good wishes! Lynn
Toggle Commented Apr 24, 2018 on How to Edit, Fix, and Polish at Business Writing