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Correspondence: General Principles - FGS Wiki

Correspondence: General Principles


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[[Category:Strategies for Secretaries]]
 
[[Category:Strategies for Secretaries]]
 +
 +
 +
== INTRODUCTION ==
 +
 +
Correspondence with society members and other
 +
business associates should do more than merely
 +
relay information. Writing letters is one of the most
 +
important functions in a society. The effectiveness
 +
of letters may mean the difference in obtaining
 +
members, keeping or losing accounts, collecting
 +
liabilities or losing subscribers.
 +
Every letter from your society is an ambassador that
 +
represents the letter writer, the president, and your
 +
entire organization. Ideally, the letters you send
 +
will come across with the warmth of a handshake.
 +
That kind of letter fosters loyalty among your
 +
correspondents and a strong image for your society.
 +
The elements of an effective letter are accuracy,
 +
attractive appearance, completeness, courtesy and
 +
readability. Even when the letter is recounting facts
 +
requiring no action or decisions on the part of the
 +
recipient, it promotes good will and prompts a
 +
favorable reaction, both toward the writer and
 +
toward the society represented.
 +
 +
A favorable reaction is achieved when the recipient
 +
likes and trusts correspondents and their
 +
organizations. Most individuals have confidence in
 +
sympathetic listeners, as well as those whom they
 +
trust to fulfill obligations—either spoken, written or
 +
implied. We trust those with whom we can fully
 +
exchange opinions, and have honest differences.
 +
By incorporating a few techniques, you can
 +
compose letters that will reach out and shake hands.
 +
First, visualize the reader. If the recipient is a
 +
stranger, try envisioning a person you know and
 +
respect. Direct your letter to a real person and you
 +
are likely to set the right tone for the reader you
 +
have never met. Second, personalize your
 +
correspondence. A good business letter is written
 +
from the point of view of the person who is to
 +
receive it. Readers are primarily interested in
 +
themselves and respond to letters which involve
 +
them.
 +
 +
Give the wording some extra thought. For example,
 +
“your letter of June 2 has just arrived” implies
 +
promptness in responding, and is a better choice
 +
than “We have received your letter, but our
 +
secretary is out of town.” Use questions. They
 +
imply you value the reader's opinion and thus
 +
convey a subtle, yet important compliment. “Don't
 +
you agree that our 10th anniversary is an occasion
 +
worth celebrating?” is a better choice than
 +
“Everyone agrees that our 10th anniversary is an
 +
occasion worth celebrating.”
 +
 +
Demonstrate your appreciation for the reader.
 +
Simply say “thank you” whenever appropriate.
 +
Adopt a friendly tone, one that is sincere, informal,
 +
but to the point. Inject a personal reference. When
 +
the message is sensitive, try turning it around and
 +
presenting it from the reader's perspective: “Your
 +
concern about the increase in annual dues is
 +
understandable. You must wish you had been at the
 +
meeting to hear the arguments and participate in the
 +
decision. I assure you, it was not an easy decision.”
 +
Keep your tone upbeat. A positive outlook projects
 +
the right image for the society. People will
 +
naturally avoid the unpleasant. If readers encounter
 +
something in your letter that causes discomfort, it
 +
will not be read properly.
 +
 +
 +
== ELEMENTS OF EFFECTIVE LETTERS ==
 +
 +
Accuracy means perfection in grammar, spelling,
 +
punctuation, and typing. All facts and figures,
 +
including addresses and dates, must be correct.
 +
A letter with an attractive appearance is well
 +
balanced, evenly typed, perfectly clean, and neatly
 +
folded. It draws favorable attention and creates a
 +
positive atmosphere for the message.
 +
The complete letter is one most likely to be
 +
understood and believed by the recipient. It means
 +
answering all questions, giving all the information
 +
needed, and clearly specifying any action to be
 +
taken. Each letter should have three parts:
 +
beginning (or opening); middle (or body); and
 +
ending (or closing). The letter is structured to
 +
perform five functions:
 +
1. Attract favorable attention.
 +
2. Arouse interest.
 +
3. Create desire.
 +
4. Convince.
 +
5. Stimulate action.
 +
 +
Do not begin your letter with the pronoun “I.” End
 +
your letter on an “up” note, so that the recipient will
 +
be glad, not disappointed, that you wrote. Avoid
 +
phrases such as “Thanking you in advance” and
 +
final sentence endings that begin with “I am” or “we
 +
are.”
 +
 +
A letter must be thorough. Always re-read a letter
 +
and be certain all essential facts are included. Ask
 +
yourself if you have covered the who, what, where,
 +
when, why, and how much. Are times and places
 +
specific? Will the reader have questions after he
 +
reads your letter?
 +
 +
What length should a letter be? A letter can be any
 +
length, provided it accomplishes its purpose. Most
 +
business leaders write only one page letters. People
 +
are busy. If you can't say it on one page, you lose
 +
the reader.
 +
 +
Courtesy in your writing requires a little more
 +
thought, a little more time, and perhaps a few more
 +
words, but it makes the difference between an
 +
average letter and an outstanding one. A complaint
 +
or an inquiry should be answered swiftly. Every
 +
letter should be friendly and tactful.
 +
 +
Readability is critical. Write as you talk. This will
 +
help you avoid stilted language and common
 +
phrases. Organize the facts and use vocabulary that
 +
is easily understood. Long, rambling sentences are
 +
hard to read. For normal reading, the average
 +
sentence length in a letter should be 14 to 17 words.
 +
Short words are usually strong and easy to grasp.
 +
Each paragraph deals with one subject. A rule of
 +
thumb is to have at least two lines, but not more
 +
than eight, in each paragraph. Avoid one paragraph
 +
letters. Each sentence in a paragraph should
 +
logically follow the sentence before. Movement
 +
between paragraphs should be smooth and logical.
 +
Lead the reader from idea to idea or from subject to
 +
subject with transitions. Channel his mind in a
 +
desired direction using transitional phrases.
 +
Get to the point of the letter quickly. If your letter
 +
contains many facts, it is wise to summarize them at
 +
the end of the letter.
 +
 +
How should you sign business letters? Possibilities
 +
include: Sincerely, Sincerely yours, Very truly
 +
yours, With kindest regards. One word, “Sincerely”
 +
is simple and therefore the best. Clear
 +
communication means simple language.
 +
 +
'''WHEN WRITING LETTERS, AVOID''':
 +
Letters ending in participles such as: “Thanking
 +
you in advance.” or “Hoping to see you soon.”
 +
Old-fashioned cliches such as “Replying to yours
 +
of...,” “According to our records...,” or “We take the
 +
opportunity...”
 +
 +
Summarizing the letter to which you are responding.
 +
Identifying the letter is usually sufficient.
 +
Being over-enthusiastic or too humble.
 +
Using the pronoun “I” excessively. Consider the
 +
other person's viewpoint.
 +
Tactlessness. If you are insisting on something
 +
unpleasant, first explain why you must. Tactful
 +
words in a courteous letter are persuasive and
 +
uncritical. Substitute tactless words or phrases for
 +
positive expressions.
 +
Instead of: “We fail to understand why you are
 +
dissatisfied.”
 +
Say: “Please tell us how we can better serve you.”
 +
Instead of: “We regret that our mistake caused you
 +
so much inconvenience.”
 +
Say: “It was a pleasure to adjust this matter to your
 +
satisfaction.”
 +
Instead of: “If this information is not sufficient...”
 +
Say: “If you would like further information...”
 +
Instead of: “Your question...”
 +
Say: “Your interesting question...”
 +
Instead of: “Your suggestion...”
 +
Say: “Your constructive suggestion...”
 +
ALSO AVOID a stilted style. Write as you speak.
 +
Avoid commonplace, archaic, or “delaying”
 +
phrases.
 +
Instead of: “Acknowledge receipt of...”
 +
Say: “Thank you for...”
 +
Instead of: “Note...”
 +
Say: “See or understand...”
 +
Instead of: “Please find enclosed...”
 +
Say: “Here or enclosed...”
 +
Instead of: “As per your...”
 +
Say: “As...”
 +
Instead of: “Has come to hand...”
 +
Say: “Reached us...”
 +
Instead of: “In re:...” Say: “About...”
 +
The term “correspondence” encompasses other
 +
forms of written communication such as form letters
 +
and transmittals.
 +
 +
 +
== FORM LETTERS ==
 +
 +
Form letters save time. They benefit the recipient,
 +
who receives the letter more quickly, and they
 +
benefit the writer, who can use the time redeemed to
 +
answer additional inquiries and requests. Form
 +
letters are often used for acknowledgments,
 +
inquiries or orders. They are used for transmittals of
 +
checks, reports, and other papers, and for follow-up
 +
correspondence of a routine nature.
 +
Form letters fall into two categories: pre-printed,
 +
with spaces left for filling in various information,
 +
and those completely retyped, with various
 +
information incorporated into them for individual
 +
recipients.
 +
 +
There is some danger in using form letters.
 +
Occasionally, they are sent thoughtlessly when they
 +
do not fit a situation or when a personally written
 +
letter is called for. One should always double-check
 +
to be sure that a form letter is completely
 +
appropriate.
 +
 +
An important reasons for using form letters is to
 +
save time. Time is saved by eliminating many parts
 +
of a letter that are usually considered essential. The
 +
result need not be unattractive or abrupt, if care is
 +
taken in planning the letter's format and wording.
 +
 +
 +
== INCOMING CORRESPONDENCE: TRANSMITTALS ==
 +
 +
Efficient society administration often demands
 +
using transmittal forms. A transmittal form logs all
 +
incoming correspondence and designates to whom
 +
it is to be directed. Items that are simply forwarded
 +
to the appropriate officer or chairman require no
 +
explanation—simply a copy of the transmittal form
 +
to identify the enclosures. Individual transmittal
 +
forms might be developed for various routine
 +
actions such as dues receipts, books received for
 +
review, publication orders, periodical exchanges, or
 +
mailing list changes. However, since many of these
 +
items are mailed, a single “universal” transmittal
 +
form will cover most or all of these items.
 +
 +
Transmittals are an especially good tool to account
 +
for monies received by your society.
 +
Each transmittal form carries a consecutive number
 +
and inclusive dates of coverage. Copies sent to
 +
various departments provide an accurate record of
 +
what was received and a built-in tracking system.
 +
The copy in turn becomes an index of transactions
 +
in each department. The transmittal number may be
 +
used as a form of documentation by the various
 +
parties involved in one single transaction.
 +
Transmittals speed distribution of mail while
 +
providing the society with various protections.
 +
Transmittals may also include a column to indicate
 +
the disposition of inquiries. This column is marked
 +
“disposition.” When a response is made to an
 +
inquiry, the date and signer are noted on the
 +
transmittal form.
 +
 +
A well-written letter shows your appreciation for a
 +
member of your organization or your business
 +
associates. The feeling that such letters deliver
 +
reinforces loyalty and good feelings toward the
 +
society. When you incorporate the above
 +
techniques to give your correspondence the warmth
 +
of a handshake, you will be surprised how often the
 +
good feelings come back to you.

Latest revision as of 15:25, 13 August 2013

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