How your good intentions can really piss people off
Writing letters or emails is a challenge. If you aren't aware of that then you may be doing it all wrong. Crafting a letter or email is (or should be) challenging. Why?
You are not there to convey the body language and facial expressions that are so crucial in communication.
When your audience only has the written word to rely on, all sorts of terrible things can happen if you aren't communicating sensitively and with the reader's perspective in mind.
Let me give you an example that has sparked this blog topic.
My 19-year-old daughter is at poly. That means she's an adult. She has the maturity and brains to make her own decisions. At least that's how I've brought her up. The poly seems to think differently.
The fact that they feel they have to report her absences to me just makes me laugh, quite frankly. Well, it would if the tone it is written in didn't make my blood boil.
She's coming into her third year at poly now and in the two years that have passed, she's been absent twice without an MC. Twice. That's two. Not twenty. Not a daily habitual occurrence, but two in the WHOLE two years.
OK, so they feel the need to inform me. I get it. They are covering their asses. Just in case I wasn't aware she'd been "skiving".
So it's not so much the receiving of the obligatory letter telling me to get my daughter in order that makes me mad so much as it's the wording of the letter. It just doesn't match the events that happened at all! What I've been receiving these two times (that's two mind you, not twenty) is a fairly offensive letter about how my daughter won't be able to take her exams because she shows habitual absences in her attendance. I think the key word here is habitual. If the concern is habitual truances (Enid Blyton, thank you - a word dredged up from a dark, distant past) why on earth am I being sent these two letters (that's two, mind you, in two years) about her single day absences? There's a pretty standard definition for habitual in most dictionaries, I would say. I don't think twice in two years covers it. Poly, you are supposed to be instilling skills in my daughter to set her up for a career. How on earth would this be helping her when she's been treated like a naughty schoolgirl instead of the incredibly articulate and intelligent young lady she is turning out to be?
My point is, you can't send template letters out when they don't fit the situation. Perhaps this poly should have one template for the single absence that is a much softer in tone. Then one for those who have had a few days absence that is a little more urgent. Then the letter I got should be sent to the habitual offenders.
So, when you "templatise" your correspondence, create a few different versions so you don't alienate all of your readers.
Your words are important and how you use them leaves a lasting impression on your reader and a permanent perception of your brand. Choose your words with care.
Copy Warrior standing up for communication that gets it right.