Taiwanese CEO Jimmy Wang is writing an email in English. He asks his colleague from the UK, James, to help.
Wang: Hey James! Could you come over here and give me some guidance? I’m trying to write an email in English, but I just can’t strike the right tone. I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall.
James: Don’t worry, I can proof read it for you. What’s it about?
Wang: I’ve been invited to a conference in Okinawa by one of our customers. I’d love to go, but I’m snowed under with work.
James: I see. Well, read it out to me.
Wang: (Reading) ‘Dear Peter, your invitation has been received.’
James: Whoa, slow down. First, you need to say ‘thank you’. And then, don’t write ‘has been received’. Say who has done what to avoid misunderstandings.
Wang: Oh, right. ‘Thank you very much for your invitation, which I have just received.’
James: Good. Go on.
Wang: ‘Attendance is not possible.’
James: OK, change that to ‘Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend due to my busy schedule’ to make it sound less like a legal document.
Wang: Alright. (Clears throat) ‘Send me details of future events, please.’
James: Make it a question instead of an order. ‘Could you please send me details of any future events?’
Wang: Got it! ‘Cheers, Jimmy Wang’.
James: ‘Cheers’ is very informal, for close friends and co-workers. I think you should rephrase it for a customer.
Wang: ‘Best regards’？
James: Sounds great! Friendly, clear and polite.
guidance ['gaIdns] 指導、建議
= help or advice
I couldn’t have finished the report without your guidance.
to strike the right tone 使用合適的語氣書寫
= to write in a suitable, polite way for your audience
It’s important to strike the right tone when you are asking your boss for a pay rise.
to bang your head against a brick wall 感到挫折的
= to be very frustrated with a difficult job
This report is taking hours to complete. I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall!
to proofread ['prufrid] 校正
= to read and correct mistakes
You need to get someone to proofread your essay before you hand it in.
to be snowed under 非常忙碌
= overworked; exceptionally busy
Look, I’m really snowed under at the moment. Can this wait until next week?
a misunderstanding ['mIsnd'stndI] 誤會
= a failure to understand something
We had a bit of a misunderstanding. I thought he meant the next Tuesday, not this Tuesday.
a legal document 官方用語
= writing that provides official information, usually written in an old-fashioned style.
You need to bring your work contract and any other legal documents you have to the immigration office.
an order ['rd] 命令
= a statement telling someone they have to do something
In the army, when you are given an order, you have to do it.
informal [In'frml] 不正式的
= friendly and relaxed
You don’t need to dress smart – it’s just an informal party for my close friends.
To rephrase [ri'frez] 改變措詞
= to write or say something again to make the meaning clear
Could you rephrase the question? I don’t really understand what you mean.