Business Writing Essentials

When Not To Write

Consider the general rule of decent behavior: treat others as you would like to be treated. It's appropriate everywhere, even at work where it naturally leads to the get-along rule for writing at work:

What you want others to read,
you should be willing to read yourself.

Did you ever wish someone had not written something and emailed it to you?

At work, you are living in the real world. Not-so-great-stuff happens. You want to stay employed and succeed, right? One of the key things to do is to avoid writing that non-so-great stuff and sending it to someone.

Which brings us to the main point:

Sometimes, DON'T even write it down.

Walk down the hall or pick up the phone. Play it safe and talk discreetly, in person. You won't regret it.

Question: How do you decide whether to write it down or not?

Answer: Tally your Career Saver Score.

Career Saver Score

For an important email you are planning to write and send, give your honest answers:

1. Why: Do I have a good reason for writing this? (I am not venting or trying to impress.)
     Yes Maybe No

2. Me: Am I the right person to write this? (They really do want to hear from me and not someone else.)
     Yes Maybe No

3. Now: Is this the right time to be writing it? (Everybody is getting along well at work right now.)
     Yes Maybe No

4. Written: Is this preferred to verbal delivery? (Seeing or hearing their reaction won't change what I need to say.)
     Yes Maybe No

5. Posterity: Should I really put it in writing? (If it's made public in a legal case, I'm okay with that.)
     Yes Maybe No

If your Career Saver Score is less than 5, you have reason to stop right there. Think about it carefully. Save your job.

If your Career Saver Score is 5, but you have a nagging voice inside you saying, "well, that one answer might be a Maybe," then you have good reason to pause before launching into written intercourse. Protect yourself. Be safe.

Lesson: When Not To Write
Module: Influence
Course: Business Writing Essentials