Top 5 Mistakes That Kill a Business Letter

  1. Begin the letter by writing: “Regarding your letter of – – – -“.
  2. did you just hear someone snoring? Yes, that’s probably the guy reading this letter. Yawning. Why start the letter so boring? How about “Thank you for writing to us” and then continue the letter. We’re so used to starting the letter with that line that we don’t even realize how superfluous it is. And the person reading this letter has seen this sentence so many times that it makes no impression at all. Trust me, the next time you write a business letter, omit that line.

  3. Addressing the letter to Dear Sir or Madam
  4. This salutation is used by people who are not sure exactly who they are writing to and want to be on the safe side. But they annoy everyone who is allowed to read the letter, whether man or woman. Instead, why not do some research and find out? Most of the time, a quick phone call or an internet search will answer this question. So put a little more effort into finding out if you’re writing to a gentleman or a woman. Believe me, it will be worth it.

  5. Wheels on the bus go round and round – – –
  6. People like to take refuge in long words to express simple thoughts, like in a game of hide-and-seek.

There is a nice example in the book Business Communication Strategies by Matthukutty M Monippally. The book mentions that a draft regulation was presented to President Franklin D. Roosevelt for approval during World War II. Here the draft:


Such precautions shall be taken that all federal and non-federal buildings occupied by the federal government during an air raid are completely secluded from view by internal or external lighting for any period of time. Such obscuration can be achieved either by obscuration construction or by cessation of illumination. Of course, this requires that in areas of the building that have to be produced during the power failure, structural measures must be taken to ensure that the interior lighting can continue. Other areas, whether manned or not, may be obscured by turning off lights.

What?? Did you understand what was just said here? Go back and read it. Still not clear? Well, it turns out all the letters meant to say that federal buildings shouldn’t be visible at night because of air raids. Therefore, in buildings that could afford it, all lights should be turned off at night. And where this was not possible due to ongoing work, the windows were to be covered with a blackout construction. President Roosevelt wrote this in the margin of the draft:

Tell them to put something in front of the window in buildings where they need to keep work going. In buildings where you can afford to stop work for a while, turn off the lights.

moral of the story? Use simple, clear, and concise language in a business letter.

  • Using To: and From:
  • This is long outdated, but you can still find it in business letters. People continue to put To: before the name of the person they’re writing to and put From: before their own name.

    I just want to ask: why? The person or company you are sending the letter to recognizes their own name and knows that the other name belongs to the sender. So why repeat the obvious!

  • Just give the cold facts, without personal touches.


  • Although business letters are used for professional communication, they can always be enlivened by a personal touch. After all, you still communicate with humans and can always use a human touch. Read this sales letter.


    Dear Jo:

    We are hereby to inform you that you have been promoted to Senior Manager, Logistics. Your promotion is effective March 12, 2008 and you will report to Ms. Susie.

    Regards,

    Hey, how about congratulating the guy? Compare it to this letter.


    Dear Jo:

    We are pleased to announce that effective March 12, 2008 you have been promoted to Senior Manager, Logistics.

    You will report to Mrs. Susie.

    Please accept our warmest congratulations on this well deserved promotion. We are confident that you will bring the same level of dedication and commitment to this new profile as you have in the past.

    Congratulations and best wishes for your continued success.

    Best regards,

    Can you see the difference in the two letters? Both communicate the same information, but the second is sure to strike an emotional chord. More personal business letters always win over overly cold and formal ones. So take some time to personalize when writing a business letter[[[[

    Thanks to Swati Verma Saxena

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