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Does your written communication project a crisp and professional image?

Posted in Communication skills by Rashmi Datt on June 1st, 2011

Here is a typical mail written by an IT help desk Engineer in response to a query by a user: ‘What is the status of my laptop which was occasionally showing blue screen while logging in, and it also has a problem of hanging at times?’

Dear Mr. Kulkarni

I would like to inform you that the problem in the laptop has been identified. The occasional blue screen while profile loading is because your login profile has been corrupted. To address this, we will be re-imaging the operating system software.
We will take a back up of your data and will re-image the laptop over the week-end, as for the initial configuration of your profile, we will require your presence on Mon morning, for Windows login access. If there is a problem with the HDD, we will need to replace it. Hence please give us your feedback after 1-2 days. Once your profile is configured we will do the data transfer and return your laptop.

Thanks & Regards,

Can you identify four rules which have been flouted here, to avoid if you want to project yourself as a crisp and credible professional?

1. Organize your thoughts before writing: The thumb rule is: One thought, one para. Breaking up the message into paras increases the clarity of the message.

2. Write the key message (which is of immediate concern to the reader) in the first line –like a headline statement. It can also come in the end, as the reader’s eye first falls at the beginning or end of the message. Here the main message of concern to the reader is  ‘Your lap-top will be ready by Mon morning’, rather than ‘I would like to inform you that the problem in the laptop has been identified’). Provide the details later.

3. Avoid starting your email with an ‘I’, as we want to give importance to the ‘you’.

4. Avoid jargon or technical gobbledygook: Use the language of your audience. if you are communicating with non-technical people (accountant, HR Manager, economist, etc), they will feel comfortable and relieved if you keep the impressive sounding jargon out!

The mail can be rewritten like this:
Dear Mr. Kulkarni,

Your lap-top will be ready by Mon morning.

After conducting the diagnostics of your laptop, we find that:

1. The occasional blue screen while logging on is because your Operating System has been corrupted. To address this, we will be reinstalling the Operating System.  Before doing that we will take a back up of your data. This whole process will be completed over the week-end.
2. Your problem should get resolved with this action. However, if your laptop continues to give trouble, we will need to replace the Hard Drive. So please give us your feedback in the next few days after we hand it over.
3. On Mon morning, your presence will be required for Windows login access, after which we will need two more hours (for configuration and data transfer). The lap-top will be ready for use then.

Thanks & Regards,

 Are there any other rules you can think of for effective email writing?

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