Written Communication – Exercise #1

Below I describe a workplace situation involving written communication. How would you reply if you were Bill? Use the comment field below to write in the reply you would give. In a few days I’ll add in my response as Bill.

If you’d like your comment to be anonymous below you can use a different name when you post. However, the system only accepts comments if the email address you give is real, although this email address is not made public, and is only used by the system to keep you updated about other comments on this post.

[SITUATION: It's 2.30pm PST, 5.30pm EST. Jack is in the New York office and has left for the day, you don't have his phone number. He's a salesman waiting for research data from you for a presentation he says is tomorrow. You're in the San Francisco office, and you understood the presentation to be in eight days time, not tomorrow, and you suspect he's confused. He's made errors about dates before, but you only spoke with Jack on the phone about this so you have no email record of the plan. You have not yet done the research, which will take two or three days to complete.]


Subject: Paxman presentation tomorrow.

Hey Bill,

Home time here in NYC. I’m guessing I’ll find the data for the Paxman presentation in my Inbox tomorrow morning so I can look it over ready for my 9am EST meeting. Thanks for getting on that so fast.

Best – Jack


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mark L. May 10, 2018 at 6:14 am

Hi Jack,

I hear that you have an expectation of receiving the Paxman presentation research by tomorrow morning, however this is not a deadline that I can meet.

I’m imagining your frustration tomorrow morning as you read this email and I’m wishing I had your cell phone number so that I could contact you and discuss this today.

My schedule reflects my understanding of your request based on our last conversation – that the Paxman presentation is in eight days and that the scope of the research you have requested will take two to three days to complete.

So that I can better understand where our current system is insufficient, would you share with me what lead to your understanding that I would deliver the research by tomorrow morning?

I don’t have a solution to get you this research by tomorrow morning, and I would like to prevent situations like this in the future as it’s important to me that you receive your research both on time and within my means. I would like to come up with a system for research requests in which we can both have confidence. Would you be willing to work together with me to establish something like this?

Could I also have your cell phone number so that we could have a backup method of communication beyond email?

Thank you,



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