Archive for October, 2010

Show some respect

An email has remained unread in my inbox for nearly a week even though it contains important information.  I’ve relied on a friend’s summary rather than battle through the grey wall of words that hits me when I open the email.

I know from previous experience that the important nuggets of information in this email are buried among screeds of waffle. The important bits are usually bad news. When I do make the effort to decipher the message, I get the distinct feeling that the waffle is intended to distract me and dilute the impact of the bad news. The upshot is that I get angry – but not because of the bad news.

I’m angry because the writer has wasted my time. I’m angry because the writer makes ME do the hard work of extracting and constructing the key message. I’m even angrier because the writer clearly hoped that most readers wouldn’t make the effort to sift through the meaningless dross and so somehow miss the bad news.

How many letters have you received from companies announcing price increases that use the same strategy of sugar-coating and obfuscation? First these letters tell you of spurious benefits and service improvements for a page and a half. Buried near the end comes the news that you’ll have to pay more.

Here’s a plea to the writers in marketing, PR or communications departments: please don’t fudge, don’t use fillers, excuses or distractions. Just tell me what I need to know. Respect my time and my intelligence and give it to me straight. I may not like your message, but I’ll appreciate being treated with respect.

Astrid

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October 18, 2010 at 9:09 pm 1 comment


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