Letter writing

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    Letter writing

    Is it still acceptable to begin a letter with:

    Dear Sir


    if one does not know the name or gender of the recipient,
    or should this now be considered:

    1. Sexist
    2. Not PC


    ??
    A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
    W.Churchill

    #2
    I think if we don't know the gender of recipent we must start with
    Dear Sir/Madam.
    Last edited by LandlordZONE; 02-05-2011, 16:41 PM.
    Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.

    Comment


      #3
      Although how one begins a letter depends to a great extent on the context, I tend to disagree with the post above.

      People are not hermaphrodites and 'Dear Sir/Madam' (or even 'Dear Sir or Madam') is therefore unacceptable. 'Dear Sir' used a as a generic form of address used not to offend either sex, but that is less so these days, so best to avoid it.

      It's always best to address a letter to a person, not to an anonymous 'bod', not only as a matter of courtesy, but also because as a personal letter is less easily ignored. The best course of action is to make a quick phone call to find out the name of the person you are writing to, then you can address them personally (which is always best) as Dear Mr Smith, or Dear Mrs Jones (and end with Yours sincerely).

      If the organisation you're writing to cannot or will not reveal the name of the person to whom you should address your letter, then a job title (made up by you if necessary) will have to suffice : Dear Manager, Dear Quality Controller, Dear Customer Relations Officer, or whatever.

      Hope that helps!
      'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

      Comment


        #4
        If you or they are unsure of their gender or status Dear Leasehold answers, or if appropriate Dear Leasehold.

        In the opening make sure you draw your attention to last contact eg We spoke yesterday, or thank you for the email and I received your message, so that you engage them immediately as the letter is relevant and not an "americanized" sales letter.

        If you can, I often apologise and ask for their help by confirming how they would be prefered to be addressed in future communication, as, unfortunately, our records do not have a saluation.

        Nothing like a little honesty!

        Originally posted by alisa11 View Post
        I think if we don't know the gender of recipent we must start with
        Dear Sir/Madam.
        Either Sir/Madam or Sir or Madam I would say is treated as a circular, scanned, perhaps, and binned.
        Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

        Comment


          #5
          If you or they are unsure of their gender or status Dear Leasehold answers, or if appropriate Dear Leasehold.
          I think this may well cause more offence that it avoids! In the unlikely event of your needing to write to a person whose name you know but not whose gender, then (i) Dear [first name] or (ii) Dear [surname] may well seem (i) overfamiliar or (ii) totally inappropropiate.

          In the opening make sure you draw your attention to last contact eg We spoke yesterday, or thank you for the email and I received your message, so that you engage them immediately as the letter is relevant and not an "americanized" sales letter.
          I agree.
          If you can, I often apologise and ask for their help by confirming how they would be prefered to be addressed in future communication, as, unfortunately, our records do not have a saluation.
          Not a bad idea but 'our records do not have a salutation' sounds like a bad translation form a foreign language. I'd say 'Please confirm how you would prefer to be addressed in future correspondance'.

          Either Sir/Madam or Sir or Madam I would say is treated as a circular, scanned, perhaps, and binned
          I agree.
          'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by mind the gap View Post
            I think this may well cause more offence that it avoids! In the unlikely event of your needing to write to a person whose name you know but not whose gender, then (i) Dear [first name] or (ii) Dear [surname] may well seem (i) overfamiliar or (ii) totally inappropropiate.
            To be clear the suggested options were

            Dear Leasehold Answers first name and surname

            or

            Dear Leasehold first name, as posted earlier if appropriate.

            I would imagine that there are just as many people who would be confused by the term "addressed" as "salutation".

            The most common instance I come across are non english names. This often coincides with english skills which lead them to the internet for advice. Salutation is immediately clear, while addressed less so, often leading to "at my home" as a reply.

            Saluation is easily dealt with " our computer has a box Mr Mrs Ms ( sadly) Dr Sir Lord etc" allowing you to neatly skip the " I wasn't sure of whether you are a man or woman" discussion.
            Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Rodent1 View Post
              Is it still acceptable to begin a letter with:

              Dear Sir


              if one does not know the name or gender of the recipient,
              or should this now be considered:

              1. Sexist
              2. Not PC


              ??
              The old insult of addressing a letter Sir or Sirs, seems to have fallen into disuse.

              Are we just politer?
              Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

              Comment


                #8
                My standard policy is that my firm's letter:
                a. to non-client begins 'Dear [Sir][Madam][Sir or Madam (if gender unknown)] and ends 'Yours faithfully [firm]'; but
                b. to client (unless known socially) begins 'Dear [Mr][Mrs][Miss][Ms] Xxx' and ends 'Yours sincerely [J. S. Shaw]'.
                JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
                1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
                2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
                3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
                4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

                Comment


                  #9
                  To be clear the suggested options were

                  Dear Leasehold Answers first name and surname
                  No. I think that sounds naff! It falls unsatisfactorily between the formality of 'Dear Mr. Jones' and the affection/familiarity of 'Dear Robert'. I think that's because most people would prefer any use of their first name to be restricted to people who know them personally, not some random stranger in a company whom they've never met or spoken to.
                  or

                  Dear Leasehold first name, as posted earlier if appropriate.
                  ? Please explain why anyone would routinely wish to include the word 'Leasehold' in their salutations.


                  I would imagine that there are just as many people who would be confused by the term "addressed" as "salutation".
                  And I would not.


                  The most common instance I come across are non english names. This often coincides with english skills which lead them to the internet for advice. Salutation is immediately clear, while addressed less so, often leading to "at my home" as a reply.
                  OK. How about : Please tell me whether I should write 'Dear Mr [the name you think is his surname], or Dear [any other name you have been given for him]?



                  Saluation is easily dealt with " our computer has a box Mr Mrs Ms ( sadly) Dr Sir Lord etc" allowing you to neatly skip the "I wasn't sure of whether you are a man or woman" discussion.
                  Sorry, your drift is uncatchable there. Perhaps you would like to punctuate that in a standard English sort of way?
                  'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by leaseholdanswers View Post
                    The most common instance I come across are non english names.
                    Often, the main problem is identifying a surname- e.g. Chinese usage places surname first.
                    JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
                    1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
                    2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
                    3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
                    4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

                    Comment


                      #11
                      If I see a female forename in the signature I simply use 'Ms' when answering. If it's unclear as to gender I normally refer to 'the letter of such and such a date..
                      I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by jeffrey View Post
                        b. to client (unless known socially) begins 'Dear [Mr][Mrs][Miss][Ms] Xxx' and ends 'Yours sincerely [J. S. Shaw]'.
                        Jeffrey, three kisses "XXX", for every client ?!
                        Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          No, that'd take X-es to excess.
                          JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
                          1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
                          2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
                          3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
                          4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by mind the gap View Post
                            No. I think that sounds naff! It falls unsatisfactorily between the formality of 'Dear Mr. Jones' and the affection/familiarity of 'Dear Robert'. I think that's because most people would prefer any use of their first name to be restricted to people who know them personally, not some random stranger in a company whom they've never met or spoken to.
                            ? Please explain why anyone would routinely wish to include the word 'Leasehold' in their salutations.
                            Which is why I said "if appropriate" twice, in regard to use of first names only.

                            It may appear "naff" but is a rather common compromise. In english names it is rarely required, but with non english names where the sex and status is unknown, as well as those who put the surname first, the full name is a statement of the obvious, if a little odd to the english speaker.

                            Originally posted by mind the gap View Post
                            OK. How about : Please tell me whether I should write 'Dear Mr [the name you think is his surname], or Dear [any other name you have been given for him]?
                            Sorry, your drift is uncatchable there. Perhaps you would like to punctuate that in a standard English sort of way?
                            Because you then fall into the embarrassing trap of saying "shall I call you Mr", when the respondent is a Mrs ( or the usually vitriolic "it's Mzzzz"). By raising the question as a "box" to complete in a computer record, and explaining that there are options, you can avoid such traps, discomfort, or embarrassment.

                            You might understand saluatation and addressed and their uses, but many do not, as posted earlier.
                            Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              We need to take a leaf out of Monty Python's book:

                              Some of my best friends are lumberjacks, and only a few of them are transvestites.

                              Yours faithfully,
                              Brigadier Sir Charles Arthur Strong (Mrs.)

                              Comment

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