Poorly Written Email

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TO: Jim
FROM: Mike
DATE: August 13, 2013
SUBJECT: ASME Vessel Requirements

Jim,

I have had a chance to review your memorandum in detail, research the relevant codes and standards, and have some preliminary conversations with Matt Hirsch (Primus) and Mike McGinnis (Innovative). I have also attached two (2) pictures of the installation in Omaha. The installation in Dallas, although appears to be vessel, is not intended to be a vessel. The design that was reviewed initially was to be condenser drain header sized to provide a minimum of 5 minutes of liquid supply to the thermosyphon oil coolers. However, pipe cap fitting were used on the inlet and outlet sides of the header in Dallas in lieu of reducing fittings that were utilized in Omaha. I agree it looks like a vessel. We can debate definitions until we are blue in the face. Your memorandum to me is kind of all over the place and I struggle with what your real concern(s) is/are. I want to resolve this issue and any underlying issues that you might have. Please let me know when you are available to discuss.

Thank you.

Email Analysis

Have you ever received a demeaning email? If you have, it surely made you feel belittled and underappreciated. These hostile situations frequently occur in the workplace, where personalities, titles, and rankings mix together. The following poorly written email ignited a fire between two coworkers, showing the importance of focus, diction, style, and tone.

BACKGROUND
The writer, Mike, is a 43 year old, degreed engineer. He has worked for the refrigerated warehouse company, “Company A,” for eight years, and is the reader’s boss. Jim, the reader, is 66 years old with a GED as his formal education. He has worked in maintenance his whole life—acquiring operations and engineering certification. He has also developed expertise in OSHA and EPA related to refrigerated warehousing and the operation of industrial refrigeration systems. Jim bears insecurities due to his lack of higher education and the promotion of Mike above him.

Early in August, Jim emailed

Page 2 Poorly written email Essay

Mike a memorandum, regarding a recently installed piece of machinery. Jim felt the machine was a vessel. Vessels must be certified and stamped in warehouses, a costly process. Mike’s poorly written response to Jim’s concern welcomed interpretation error, leaving Jim upset and concerned. Through a series of unpleasant, retaliation emails, the hostility escalated and forced the CEO to resolve the issue.

ANALYSIS
Mike’s initial response to the memorandum exemplified a badly written email. Before Mike wrote the email, he should have focused on the reader’s concerns. His purpose was to inform Jim that the machinery was not a vessel. Considering Jim’s insecurities, Mike should have taken a less hostile approach to inform Jim that his thoughts were incorrect.

Adding to Mike’s lack of focus, his organization and formatting was far from logical. Mike mentioned the attached documents in the second sentence, but failed to mention the importance of the images. He lumped all of his ideas into one, large paragraph, leaving his explanations for why it is not a vessel unclear. The email contained a series of inappropriate comments and word choices mixed in with the explanations. Therefore, Jim could have interpreted the email as one meant to criticize, rather than inform. In the last two sentences of the paragraph, the phrases “real concern” and “underlying issues” led Jim to believe Mike was questioning his motives.

As the boss, Mike should have been more diplomatic towards a subordinate who brought up a relevant issue. First, Mike should have started the email thanking Jim for bringing the concern to his attention. This would have shown Jim that Mike appreciates the pride he takes in his job. It, also, would have introduced the topic at hand and led into the main point of the email. Next, Mike should have written the lead before introducing any processes or references. Then, he could have systematically written the reasoning and findings behind his message. Finally, Mike should have left out the last three sentences, replacing them with supportive information about the machinery. If he had done so, it would have resolved Jim’s concern and eliminated all the unfriendly diction that led to the workplace animosity.

Mike’s email caused anger, frustration, and confusion in the workplace. Through the emails that followed, Jim’s insecurities grew and Mike’s temper was tested. A properly written email could have avoided a workplace disruption. Furthermore, one focused, organized, and direct email would have answered Jim’s concern and relayed Mike’s support.

Email Rewrite

TO: Jim
FROM: Mike
DATE: August 13, 2013
SUBJECT: Requirements for ASME Vessel

Jim,

Thank you for notifying me about the concern in Dallas. I carefully looked over your memorandum, and can see where that section of the refrigeration system could appear to be a vessel. However, after taking the following steps, I believe the section is a liquid header and does not require a certification: 1- I researched the ASME requirements and codes.

2- I shared your concern with the refrigeration engineer, who designed the system, and the general contractor overseeing the project. 3- I compared the recent Dallas installation to a similar installation in Omaha. I have attached images of the model to this email.

From my research, I gathered that the new installation acts as an ammonium transporter. The company decided to use the Omaha transporter as a model. This larger model provides a minimum five minute liquid supply to the thermosyphon oil coolers. Also, the company made an adjustment to the new transporter by placing pipe cap fitting on the inlet and outlet sides of the header. Both the large appearance, and the pipe cap fittings, make the new installation appear as a vessel; however, it is mean to transport, not store, the ammonium.

I appreciate your efforts to ensure that we have a safe and compliant refrigeration system. If you still disagree with my conclusion, I recommend we get an independent engineer to review the design and provide his opinion. I will call you on Thursday at 2 p.m. to discuss this matter further.

Best regards,

Mike

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