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Korrespondenz auf Englisch - Was zeichnet moderne Korrespondenz aus?

Schlagwörter: Korrespondenz auf Englisch, Amtsenglisch vermeiden, Amtenglisch vermeiden, Englisch Schreiben, Schreiben auf Englisch, Briefe auf Englisch, Englische Briefe, Was zeichnet moderne Korrespondenz aus? Modernes Schreiben

Chances are you’ve been indoctrinated about how to write a business letter. Since your first encounter with English, you’ve learned to start with ‘Dear Mr So-and-So’ and end with ‘Yours Blah Blah Blah’. The rules are specific: if the recipient’s name is known to you, it’s ‘Yours Sincerely’; if not, ‘Yours Faithfully’.

You don’t have to look hard to find this rule splattered all over the Internet. On these same sites, you’ll also find nicely organized lists of useful phrases you can use to piecemeal any business letter together. Do you recognize any of these golden nuggets?

With reference to your letter of 8 August …
If you require any further information, please contact me.
I look forward to hearing from you.
If we can be of any further service, please let us know.
We regret to inform you that…
I am writing to complain about…
I regret any inconvenience…

There are hundreds of them. Perhaps you use them. You’ve been told they make you and your firm look extremely professional.
And indeed, this was the state of things — in 1985. If you write letters that sound like this, whether on paper or as email, you are actually not making your firm look professional. You’re making it look staid, stiff, inflexible, and old-fashioned. Like it or not, this type of language is antiquated, but probably not for the reasons you may think.

A shift in psychology
When the Internet arrived, the art of business communication began to change. Email introduced a way of communicating that was informal and short. Today, business people and consumers write so much email that this way of communicating has become second-nature. But this is not the reason why businesses have been shifting the way they communicate.

The information explosion began around 2004. Advertising text and information are everywhere. It clogs Web sites, desks, shelves, mobile devices, and every part of our lives. So much so that people have become numb to old-fashioned, prosaic business communication. When people see this type of communication, they think one or more of the following:

Antiquated, pompous, and inflexible
Too much text, too much effort to read

Companies have learned that to stand out, they have to recognize the time constraints and information overload people have. The solution is to communicate with each person in a way that is direct, customized, and gets right to the point without any extraneous language. Such text attracts attention. Such text gets read. Such text is taken seriously. Today, professional communication is less about how you say something and more about how you show your understanding for the reader’s needs and time constraints. Rather than using one-size-fits-all phrases, you need to show you understand your ‘audience’.

Communication for the next decade
Communicating directly with your audience requires a ‘you’ attitude. Rather than writing about a situation from your firm’s point of view, you need to write from the reader’s point of view. The important rules are:

Always think of the reader and how he or she may read your correspondence. Focus on ‘you’ and ‘I’ instead of ‘we’, and don’t be afraid to make personal promises if you can keep them. Avoid formal language that sounds ‘official’. Keep the tone friendly.

Always be clear, polite, and specific.

Brutally cut down every paragraph, sentence, and word until only the essentials remain. This makes your communication appear valuable and eliminates the clichés of the past at the same time. Keep sentences short and use easy words.

Rephrase everything that sounds like official information to sound like you are speaking with a colleague. The art of correspondence is no longer about providing information; it is about engaging in a dialogue. People take dialogues seriously; they view anything that looks like information as ‘noise’.

Avoid the passive voice unless it helps shorten your text without violating any of these rules, or unless it helps you avoid assigning guilt ( see the grammar article in last month’s OBET ).

What you’ve learned about salutations hasn’t changed, but you should forget about closings like ‘Yours Sincerely’ and ‘Yours Faithfully’. To English speakers, they sound like Hochachtungsvoll.

Instead, use one of these simple closings:

Sincerely, ( letters )
Best Regards, ( emails, letters to colleagues )
Regards, ( emails, letters to colleagues )

Applying the rules
Let’s take a look at how applying these rules improves your correspondence. Here’s a mini-letter that follows the old rules:

Dear Mr Sanders,
In response to your letter dated 4 May, we are pleased to inform you that we have the items you requested in stock and are able to ship them as soon as we have received payment in full. Simply complete your purchase on our Web site at your earliest convenience and we will be happy to dispatch the goods the same day using the shipping method of your choice. We look forward to your business.
Yours Sincerely,
Arthur McArthur


Dear Mr Sanders,
You’ll be pleased to know that the items you requested are in stock. Simply complete your purchase on our Web site and I’ll make sure they go out the same day.
Arthur McArthur

Important changes:

‘You’-oriented instead of ‘we’-oriented
All unnecessary words, including clichés, have been eliminated
Any information that is self-understood has been eliminated
The official, formal tone has been replaced by facts that get right to the point and make a personal promise.

Schlagwörter: Korrespondenz auf Englisch, Amtsenglisch vermeiden, Amtenglisch vermeiden, Englisch Schreiben, Schreiben auf Englisch, Briefe auf Englisch, Englische Briefe, Was zeichnet moderne Korrespondenz aus? Modernes Schreiben

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