Monday, September 2, 2013

Business Letter Writing | Courtesy and Consideration


Business Letter Writing | Courtesy and Consideration
Courtesy in letter writing is like the 'cure all medicine', which cures the friction generated by wrong selection of words while exchanging message between two or more parties; it makes life smooth and simple and helps win the hearts of friends, communicators and business partners. It mitigates the sting of an unpleasant situation caused by the wrong selection of words in letter writing, builds goodwill, and generates a positive reply and reaction. Discourtesy and rudeness in letter writing always breed misunderstanding and hostility, and help you run the risk to lose both friends and business.

It always benefits to be courteous in business. If such happens that you have received an impolite, discourteous, or offensive letter, do not get angry and hit back similarly. Rather keep yourself calm and cool and send as much as possible a courteous reply. If you do so, there is possibility that the person you are replying to may regret for his wrongdoing and act in your favour. In fact, courtesy in communication acts as a magic in case of building goodwill of an organization.

Practical Hints to Be Followed
Some of the phrases italicized in the following sentences have been found useful in tiding over a difficult situation and making communication courteous and pleasant:

Many thanks for your letter of 15 July, 2014.
Thank you very much for your letter of 15 July, 2014.
We are happy to know that you are now in a position to pay our bill.
We highly appreciate your writing to us so promptly.
We are extremely sorry that we are not in a position to meet your order immediately.
We regret that you did not receive the books in time.
You will be pleased to know that we have dispatched the books you ordered in your letter of 15 July, 2014.

Practical Hints to Be Avoided
Some of the following phrases usually bother the reader because they imply that you consider him your inferior. So, try to avoid using the following phrases in your writing:

You state........
You are wrong in saying.......
We find it difficult/hard/tough/awkward to believe......
Your claim that........
We must firmly state........
Your complaint that.........
We cannot agree to your request/plan/offer/demand/proposal...........
We are forced to refuse........
We demand..........

Sometimes brevity leads to courtesy. But in a bid to be brief you should not become curt. Curtness implies that the letter writer is impatient and has lack of consideration for the reader. The following letter refusing leave to an employee would be regarded as curt:

"With reference to your application of 15 July, 2013 I am to inform you that you cannot be granted the leave applied for."

It would have been better to explain to the employee the specific reasons for refusing leave and to suggest convenient time in future when it would be possible to grant him leave. The person who wrote this letter forgot that a letter is not only just a piece of factual information but also it reflects the attitude of a writer.

When an organization advertises to recruit employees, it is seen almost in all cases that the number of applicants is much larger than the number of posts available. In this case the organizations aware of their goodwill send a polite letter of refusal to those applicants who applied for the posts but were not selected for their failure to meet all requirements. If the number of applicants is very large, some organizations convey their thanks to all applicants and notify them through the newspaper circulations that the posts have been filled.

Carefully read the following refusal letter. How would be your mental condition if you got it?

"With reference to your application of 15 July, 2014 for the post of Office Executive in our Marketing Department, we would like to inform you that it is not possible for us to recruit you for the position you have applied."

The above form of writing indicates lack of courtesy. It could, however, be rephrased as follows so that it might reflect a courteous and polite approach:

"Thank you very much for your application of 01 September, 2014 for the post of an Office Executive in our Marketing Department.

We are sorry to speak that at present we are not able to offer you this position. But we have carefully noted your qualifications and experience and put your job application on our files. If an opportunity arises in future, we shall be pleased to consider you again. We highly appreciate the interest you have shown in our organization."

Considering the reader's interests, needs, and, desires is known as 'you attitude' in the business world. Merely using the pronoun 'you' will, however, not do. Self-centeredness on part of the writer is one of the greatest barriers to successful business communication, and everyone must realize it. In fact, the impulse to write an effective letter comes to us when we really want to say something that is instinctive.

After receiving a business letter, a reader assesses how it will affect him and his business and what action he will need to take on the letter he received. Direct personal approaches of 'you-attitude' make sure the quick transmission of the message and the desired response.

A common violation of the 'you-approach' consists in writing to a person as if one was addressing a crowd and not an individual. Some examples have been given below to exemplify the point:

Crowd-approach
You-approach
(a) We are happy when we get such suggestion/proposal from our clients/customers.

(b) This article will help the readers in writing good English.

(c) We feel sorry when we find that our customers are not satisfied with our merchandise.
(a) We are thankful/grateful for your valuable suggestions.

(b) This article will help you in writing good English.

(c) We are sorry that you are not satisfied with the electric kettle you bought from us.

 If you go through the pages of any newspaper or magazine, you will discover that attractive advertisements always represent the 'you-attitude' to grab the attention of their targeted people.

(a) Build your future with us.

(b) We build your dream home.

(c) To build your career is our promise.

(d) The course is especially designed to build your career.

(e) When you fly with us, we consider you our special guest.

However, when you write a letter to someone, you can form an idea about the person before you start your writing. It will help you to select the right tone and right words for that person. There are many ways through which you can surely form an idea about the person such as his status in the organization, the type of organization to which he belongs, his social status, his present situations and so on. A letter reflects the personality and real attitude of a writer, so try to visualize the person to whom you are going to write. Study the famous letter written by Abraham Lincoln to Mrs. Bixby and note how the 'you attitude' has been reflected in it.

Dear Madam:

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the republic they died to save.  I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the alter of freedom.

Yours very sincerely and respectfully

A. Lincoln


A letter is usually written in a specific situation with a specific purpose in mind, and this specific situation should help you in determining and finding out the tone of your letter. So, while writing your letter, you should bear in mind that you are writing to a person and not to an organization. Even if your letter is addressed to an organization, it will be read by a person, not an organization.

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