Posted by: magnussonllc | August 21, 2009

Choosing the Right Tone when Writing Business Letters

Just as facial expression, voice, and body language affect speech, the tone of your text can deliver different messages and evoke certain reader actions and feelings. Your language can convey anything from empathy and enthusiasm to indifference and disdain.

Here are some strategies for writing to suit your readers’ anticipated attitude:Note

  • For readers who are open to your message, be natural and conversational. For close colleagues or others you feel comfortable with, a warm and friendly tone always works the best.
  • For readers who are indifferent to your message, be persuasive. With readers who don’t know you that well or who have no stake in whether your ideas are well received, you need to convince them to buy into your concept.
  • For readers who are hostile to your message, find common ground between your message and their needs. To hold the attention of a hostile reader, demonstrate that you understand they are upset and that you have developed a potential solution to their problem.

 The tone is also dependent on the type of message you are sending.

Embellish good news.

Don’t waste any opportunity to help others feel better about the company, project, and their role in it.

Show enthusiasm of other’s ideas.

An enthusiastic tone can demonstrate that you’re a team player interested in the good of the company rather than your own success. This can go a long way in enhancing relationships with people through all levels of the organization

Disagree without talking down to your reader.

If you’re asked for feedback on an idea that you believe is flawed, use tact to explain why the idea won’t work. Avoid being judgmental or condescending.

Empathize when delivering bad new.

At one time or another you will have to deliver bad news to a colleague or a customer. Here are a few tips for delivering negative news:

  • Don’t hide bad news
  • Don’t patronize the reader
  • Put yourself in the reader’s shoes and imagine how you’d feel in that situation

 Finally, write text that speaks to people individually, rather than a group by using words such as you, me, we and us. These words instill a sense of teamwork and camaraderie when writing a message for internal distribution.  They express  personal empathy when writing to customers and other external readers.


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