Whether you mean it or not, being rude in print is permanent.

When I was a young man, my dad gave me some infinite wisdom, one of those pieces of information, or pearls, that stays with you forever.

He said:

“Be careful what you put in writing…. Better to say some things before writing them. Because once it’s written, it’s permanent.”

And in this day and age, the day of digital, where email and SMS Texts are preferred means of communication rather than phoning, we need to be even more careful about what we write.

Because it’s permanent.

And not so much about what we write…

Sometimes what we write can be taken the wrong way, simply because it is written and not spoken.

Without the verbal, spoken inflection, the written word can be often misinterpreted. 

Take this sentence:

“I never said she stole my money.”

This sentence, when written, can have seven different interpretations or meanings. 

Let me show you:

“I never said she stole my MONEY.”

“I never said she stole MY money.”

“I never said she STOLE my money.”

“I never said SHE stole my money.”

“I never SAID she stole my money.”

“I NEVER said she stole my money.”

I never said she stole my money.”

Depending on your emphasis, each of these sentences has a different meaning or inference.

Last week I ran a webinar:

I’ve been running webinars recently.

Actually, these are FREE webinars.

Free webinars, that last for nearly two hours, where, with a guest expert as well, I discuss the latest up to date news and protocols about running a dental practice [as best you can] in the current COVID-19 environment.

The webinars are well attended, and very interactive, with lots of live questions.

As is usual with webinars, some registrants attended the webinar, some people registered and did not attend, and others didn’t even register.

Two days following the webinar, all of those who registered, whether they attended the webinar or did not, receive an email by the webinar hosting company [on my behalf] thanking them for registering and offering them a replay of their webinar.

It reads:

Dear [first name], 

We’re sorry you weren’t able to attend our webinar. I’ve attached a copy of the webinar for you to view at a later time more convenient for you.

Please send your questions, comments and feedback to: david@theupe.com.

But for some reason [beyond my control or understanding], the link to the replay is never attached to the email.

Which means that anyone who receives the email and wants to watch the replay needs to reply back to the email and request the replay.

That’s the FREE replay.

Of the FREE webinar.

The replies that I have received have been many and varied, in tone, written dialogue, and in manners.

Here are some:

“Attachment?”

Yes, that’s all she wrote….

~

“Hello,

I don’t have anything attached”

No first name, no please, no thank you. At least I got a “hello”

~

“Don’t see the attachment

[First and last name in bold font]

No “hello”. No please, no thank you….

~

Then they started to get better….

“Hi David – FYI, There was no attachment contained with the email below.

Thanks,
[First name supplied]”

~

“Dr Moffet 

There was no attachment for the replay of 10 Urgent Steps 

Please send the replay 

Thank you 

Anne”

~

And then there were these NICER and MUCH BETTER replies: 

“Hi David,

Are you able to attach the webinar? I can’t seem to find it in this email. 

Many Thanks, 

[First name supplied]”

~

“Hi David,

Thank you for your email but I did not find the webinar attached to this email. could you please send it again?

Best regards,

[First name supplied]”

~

“Hi David,

Thank you for providing a copy of the webinar.

However, either I am tech illiterate or it is unattached to your email.

I have clicked on the gotowebinar but it requires a password to login.

Regards,

[First name and last name supplied]”

~

“Hi David,

Sorry, due to circumstances beyond my control I was unable to attend the webinar. I was very excited to receive this email but, I can’t find the attachment. Could you please resend it to me. Thanks in advance.

Regards

[First name supplied]”

~

“Hi David

I missed the webinar, was called into my son’s school for a meeting regard this whole covid-19 thing.

I would love to watch it but there doesn’t seem to be an attachment on the email that you sent. I will now be working this Tuesday as we have had a crazy week, so won’t be able to watch it then.

Hope you are well and healthy. The farm sounds like the best place to be during all of this!

Kind Regards

[First and last name supplied]” 

~

Can you see the differences in these responses?

Some are very courteous and conversational, while others are a little bit short on content…

Which sort of message would you prefer to receive?

And which style of writing draws you in and attracts your best response?

~

Here’s the response I replied to each email with:

I received several emails letting me know that the attachment was not an attachment.

Here’s the email I sent as a reply:

“Hi [their first name]

Sorry you missed the webinar yesterday.

Here is the link to the recording right now.

Enjoy the replay.

Let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any other way.

Warm regards

David

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/4593957898862661645

~

Best of all, I even received a follow on email:

“Hi David,

Thank you for forwarding a replay of your informative and helpful webinar.

My daughter who is a doctor is imploring me to close the practice. She is extremely worried and frightened. Her close friend is at the coalface dealing with the corona virus.

She and her other medicos have made their parents to go into lockdown. It is worse than the government is letting on as they  do not want panicking and mass hysteria.

I tell her I have responsibilities to my patients but she advises me if I contract the virus because I am 60 I will be overlooked if younger people present. And I am of no use if I am dead.

Kind regards,

[First and last name supplied]”

What’s the message here?

As a writer, we need to be aware that what we write, and how we write things, can send obtuse messages about us, the writer, that we may not have intended.

For example, take this sign that took pride of place at a Radiology practice near my home:

[David’s photo of sign attached to ruler Image 0432]

Although the message is written using “please” and “thank you” it is written in capitals and in bold with some underlining, so can be interpreted as yelling or shouting, and a command, not a request.

Could the sign have been written in a better way?

Of course it could have….

I’ve always said that wherever possible, signs should be removed and replaced by spoken messages.

Signs should never be a substitute when a spoken message is appropriate.

As I said, the written word, once read, cannot be retracted or taken back.

During these interesting times, it may be a good time to review the messages you are sending to your patients and valued customers.

If you’d like some help with those messages, send me an email to david@theUPE.com

*****

The next FREE COVID-19 webinar will be this afternoon Tuesday April 7 at 4:00pm EST [Sydney time]. If you can’t attend live, please register anyway so that you can receive a recording of the webinar.

Here is the link to register:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2682434943829237518

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