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As requested, we are enclosing....

What is it about business letters that brings out the pomp in men and women? We ask our readers to please be advised that the price of eggs has increased five cents" when the last eight words would suffice. If we used this language in our personal letters, our friends and relatives would think we had developed bubbles in the think tank.

Take the man who writes warm, personable and articulate letters to his friends. He talks to them as though they are sitting beside him. But not so in his business letters. They begin with: -This will hereby acknowledge receipt of your letter of June 25th.' Wouldn't he have more credibility with his reader if he were to say, simply, "Thank you for your letter...'? Then he tells him "Enclosed please find," as though the reader is expected to search for the information in the envelope.

Other people call themselves 'the writer-. They say, The writer feels that this plan is the best,- or Please contact the undersigned." When people are speaking they never refer to themselves as -the speaker.- What's wrong with using the first person pronoun in letters?

So we continue to see such bureaucratic phrases as: -we beg to advise; allow us to express our appreciation; we herewith enclose; and thanking you, I remain".

Most people who use these expressions think they must display a lofty dignity in their letters before they can be deemed business writers. Some may have picked up this idea from their schooling. Others, in jobs where they have to write letters for the first time in their lives, have delved into their predecessors' files for guidance. So they unknowingly project poor business writing practices into the next generation.

Then there are those few who inflate their egos With aggrandized phraseology. The trouble with these writers is that they are more concerned with their own importance than they are with their reader's ease. Why should the reader have to flounder with: Our conception of the market can be substantiated through intelligence garnered in the field' when he can more easily understand: We can check our view of the market by facts gathered in the field."?

Someone has noted: "A good writer says it simply and with such skill you never notice the simplicity." The best writers have always used simple words. Somerset Maugham often proudly displayed a letter from a fan which said, "I have just finished reading a book of yours without once having to open a dictionary.' How effective would Winston Churchill's blood, sweat and tears" have been if he had incited the British people during World War II to shed "artial fluid, perspiration and lacrimal gland secretion:? Even Shakespeare, considered by some to be a "longhair" writer, used the simplest phrases he could.

There are also writers who refuse to bend a rule. They haven't forgotten that their grade six teacher said, Never split an infinitive nor place a preposition at the end of a sentence. Never? To point out the grammatical acrobatics such frozen- grammer creates, Churchill once wrote, with tongue in cheek, Placing prepositions at ends of sentences is something up with which I will not put.- And never, never start a sentence with land. - Another common fault with business writers is that their letters and reports lack conciseness. Why say based on the fact that- when the words: 'since' or "as" or because- will do? Inconciseness is caused also by the use of unnecessary adjectives and adverbs. I'm talking about such words as "very- and greatly" as in An early response would be greatly appreciated.- And "quite true, acute crises, and good assets- don't do anything to add emphasis and strength.

All we have to do to become a nation of accomplished business writers is to write the way we talk. That is: leave out ancient stilted phrases like -attached please find-; remember that grammatical rules are flexible and can be bent to fit the situation; and write simply. In short, forget yourself and think of your reader's understanding. The reader is the reason you wrote the letter in the first place.
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Title Annotation:business letters
Author:Huth, Robin
Publication:Canadian Manager
Date:Sep 22, 1989
Previous Article:Corporate hiring and executive search will dramatically change in the 1990's.
Next Article:Workers link office environment to productivity.

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