Thursday, March 16, 2006

Writing Emails/Letters

I just got off the phone with a worried lady who is trying to write to her condo management because they were trapping some of her cats. She has been trying to write an email to them and has been quite concerned about what to put in. Here are a few tips that I usually bear in mind when writing to TCs/condos/managements/etc :-

1. Always be polite, but firm

There is no need to be rude, but don't be a pushover either. State your case politely but firmly.

2. Check your facts and know your facts!

Make sure you have your facts right. Don't make allegations you cannot prove. You want to come across as trustworthy and reliable, so don't write things like, my friend's friend's friend saw this or that, unless you KNOW that person and think they are reliable.

You might want to add any information about Sterilisation, Community Cat management, etc that is useful at this juncture.

3. Offer your help where possible

It's always a good idea to try and offer help if you can. This shows you want to work with whomever is in charge to make the situation better.

4. Be Persistent

Sometimes one letter/email/fax may not be enough. Don't give up because this is just the first step in a process. Keep writing (but don't harass them) if you don't hear from them after a reasonable period of time.

5. Keep it real

People often ask me if this or that should be put in, or what I would write. The thing is I might write a very different letter from what you or anyone else would. It doesn't matter. The main thing is to put across how you feel and what you want to do. Don't feel you need to put in big words or write in a different style to make your letter seem more important. The most important thing is to write from the heart.

6. There is no perfect email

At the end of the day, don't fret too much about it. There will always be things you can improve so don't worry too much about making it perfect. Often you have a window of opportunity and you need to act fairly quickly before the issue gets thrown on the backburner - I find speed is usually preferable to perfection, because it will never be perfect.

Good luck!


Anonymous a fun link about lobbying for spaying said...

This lady Emily Yoffe has a Human Guinea Pig column where she tries out doing various things (like trying to win a beauty pageant) and then reports on her attempts.

Your blogfans might find this recent column amusing.

"I appointed myself president of my newly formed animal-welfare organization, Spay and Neuter Our Pets, or SNOP. SNOP's goal, I determined, was a federal law requiring that all cats and dogs at animal shelters and rescue organizations be spayed or neutered in order to be released for adoption."

Here's the link:

16/3/06 1:26 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Thanks for the link. It was an interesting article. I used to enjoy Ms Yoffe's articles till I read the one in which she sent one of her cats to be killed at a shelter because of behavioural problems.

16/3/06 2:06 PM  
Anonymous never knew that about emily said...

gosh, she seems like such a good sport and an animal lover otherwise.

16/3/06 2:24 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Here's the post. She writes well, but after this article, I can't quite bring myself to read her columns anymore.

16/3/06 2:31 PM  
Anonymous bc said...

Good simple advice. Again, I think people just need to get rid of that concept that writing a letter/email is for the privileged few. People just need to remember that it's just putting their thoughts and talk on paper - may be a help if they take it as dictating themselves. =)

Ditto about Emily Yoffe.

16/3/06 2:38 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I mentioned to the volunteers we met on Saturday that I have seen all kinds of letters. I have seen handwritten letters, letters that aren't necessarily in English, and these are still taken seriously.

Plus as with anything, practice makes perfect - soon you'll be writing letters without thinking too much about it. The thing is to get over the idea as BC that only certain people can write letters - it isn't true and many people are selling themselves short on this point.

16/3/06 2:49 PM  
Anonymous bc said...

Well said, and so true.

Of course, the ability to write a letter, is not the same as writing a story. I think most assume that to write means they must have the abilities of Pulitzer-hopefuls. That's just missing the point, and as Dawn said, selling themselves short.

Writing is another form of communicating is all - it's having your words converted from sound (or brainwaves) into marks on paper. If you are able to convey your thoughts through talking, then you can write a letter too. If people can see that, I think it will help dispel a lot of the tendency to view writing as some mysterious process that most people can't get a handle on.

Most importantly, pratice is the key!

16/3/06 3:16 PM  
Blogger Kayley said...

Poor Goldie. Perhaps it had to do with the other pets in the house. 3 humans, one dog and 2 cats = 6 creatures in one house.

So crowded. Jostling for attention.

I've experienced cats vying for attention and they can get pretty jealous if you pet one more than the other. They just want to feel loved.

I think Ms Yoffe's Goldie was the least favored, and it aggravated his behavior problems. I agreed that putting him down wasn't the way.

Read an article once somewhere about a woman whose dog would tear everything in the house apart (minus the roof), and it went on for months and months. She got him under control after consulting an animal behavior expert.

16/3/06 3:17 PM  
Anonymous i see what you are saying said...

Just read that other article by EY. Hmmm. Yes, it is terrible what she did. But then, I really do wonder how long the most devoted pet owners/caregivers would tolerate "irregular" pet behaviour. So many humans even seem to be sent to various homes (old age, mental, others) all the time (and sometimes, kids to boarding schools), 'cos folks at home cannot put up with dealing with a difficult person on a daily basis anymore. Anyway, all that would get way off-topic, so never mind. With artistes, it's best to separate their personal lives from their art - otherwise, we would not be able to appreciate any art in this world at all.

16/3/06 4:13 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I see what you are saying - that is a good point about people but still I think that we should strive to be better and not base it on people who are not behaving well. In this case I wouldn't consider Ms Yoffe really an artiste - she's a journalist who writes about her own life, so i think the line between art and life is sort of blurred in this case :)

16/3/06 4:31 PM  

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