Writing eTips UpWrite Press - We Make Writing Work For You
December 2006 UpWrite Press - We Make Writing Work For You

What’s Your Sign-Off Line?
Those last few words in an email can have more impact than you might think! How an email closes is every bit as important as how it opens and what it contains.To learn more, read the NY Times article.

Make your email communications the best they can be with Writing Effective E-Mail.

Writing for Holiday Diversity
The winter holiday season calls for many kinds of writing. It’s the time for customer thank-you notes and appreciation letters, as well as general greetings and holiday wishes. This is the time to remember all men and women “of good will”—not just those who celebrate the same holidays as you do. Remember to consider cultural diversity in your holiday greetings.

As a rule, keep your greetings secular. If you are a Christian, remember that Jews, Buddhists, and Muslims do not celebrate Christmas. While most businesspeople are accepting of religious cards and greetings, insensitivity to individual beliefs might create some resentment or tension, however mild. It’s always good form to stick with secular greetings, such as “wishing you a peaceful holiday season,” or even just “season’s greetings.”

If you are aware of your reader’s religious preferences, there is certainly nothing wrong with offering a more specific wish such as “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Chanukah,” or “Happy Kwanzaa.” However, remember that religious and cultural celebrations are personal choices and might not be observed by everyone. If you are at all unsure of your recipient’s customs, keep your greeting cheerful and neutral. Also note that Muslims have no specific winter holiday, so a simple “wishing you peace” would be appropriate. Buddhists celebrate the enlightenment of Buddha on December 8, called Bodhi Day, but any positive wishes during the season are always appreciated.

Diversity awareness isn’t just for the holidays. All of your business writing should be dictated by sensitivity toward others. Sometimes the barrier will be not cultural, but linguistic. If your readers have limited English proficiency, the following suggestions from Write for Business should prove helpful.

  • Avoid humor. Your joke could get lost in translation and might even be construed as insulting.
  • Use simple, objective words, including clear nouns and verbs, but avoid sounding condescending.
  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short. Sentences longer than fifteen words and paragraphs of more than eight lines could prove intimidating for readers with limited English proficiency.

In any case, don’t be afraid to extend holiday wishes to your clients and co-workers. Whatever your readers’ religious or cultural views, you can’t go wrong simply offering hope for a peaceful holiday season with best wishes for the coming year.

And those are our wishes for you. From all of us at UpWrite Press, may your winter holidays be blessed with peace and contentment, and may the New Year bring you health and happiness.

For more tips about writing to limited-English readers, see Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating in the Workplace.

Personal Coaching for Business Writing Skills
What’s the quickest way to improve your business writing skills? Personal coaching may be the answer. UpWrite Press offers a variety of personal coaching plans that teach traits and techniques of business writing.
Read more about Upwrite Press Personal Coaching

Join Our Writers’ Forum
We invite you to be part of our monthly eTips. Each month we pose a question or problem regarding the use of writing in business. Send us your reply along with your name, your company’s name, and a brief description of what you do. We will print the best responses, and you will get your name out to our more than 5,000 subscribers! (We reserve the right to edit your remarks for fit and suitability.)

December Writers’ Forum Topic
In business writing, emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) means understanding the emotional content in our correspondence. UpWrite Press is developing a new online course in EI, and we’d like to include some real-life cases (names changed, of course). We’re looking for examples of email “flames” or emotionally charged letters you’ve received, along with your responses, as well as descriptions of times you’ve had to correspond about an emotional subject and how you approached the task.

As a thank-you for your support, five respondents will be chosen at random to receive a FREE certificate for the EZ Online Emotional Intelligence course! We’ll announce the winners in the January eTips.

Email your response to writersforum@upwritepress.com. Write "December Writers’ Forum" in the subject line, and you could see your reply in the eTips Mid-Month Mini!

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Coming in January :
The 10 C’s—Tips for Business Writing
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eTips is a publication of UpWrite Press, Inc., P.O. Box 460, Burlington, Wisconsin 53105. Copyright © 2006, UpWrite Press. All rights reserved. Visit www.upwritepress.com.