Business Writing Essentials

Productivity Etiquette

To get useful things done at work, you must be good at requesting things of others, and you must be good at responding to the requests of others.

The etiquette of good requests

It's easy to send emails, so it's easy to make requests. Self-control is essential to avoiding indiscriminate and poorly-worded requests. A short checklist can help:

   I actually do need this.
  The reader is not imposed upon to do unnecessary work.

   I am asking for only one thing.
  The reader has an email that is easy to answer and archive.

   I am asking early in the email.
  The reader doesn't have to read carefully all the way to the end.

   I state my request in a single-sentence paragraph.
  The reader quickly recognizes the request.

   I am brief but specific.
  The reader quickly understands what I want.

The etiquette of good responses

You get more and more email every day. At the same time, others often expect fast responses to their email requests. A short checklist can keep you out of trouble:

   I reply quickly, if only to schedule a response.
  The reader is not kept in the dark.

   I answer at the top.
  The reader is not annoyed by having to scroll down.

   I respond in kind: chatty or terse.
  The reader feels comfortable with our communications.

   I acknowledge and explain atypical brevity.
  The reader is not offended by an abrupt reply.
  example closings:
  Talk later,       More to follow,

   I apologize if I am late; I am self-deprecating.
  The reader won't hold a grudge.
  example closing:
  A thousand apologies for being so late,

Lesson: Productivity Etiquette
Module: Email
Course: Business Writing Essentials