Alex BespoyasovAuthor's photo

Rules of Work Communication by M. Ilyahov and L. Sarycheva

“Rules of Work Communication” is a book by Maxim Ilyahov and Ludmila Sarycheva. I'm not sure if there's an official translation of it in English, so I'll try and translate notes from it myself.

This book is not about words and rules, but about relationships between people. It has a list of phrases that are cutting into people's ears in 2018, but there are no recipes like “use this email pattern, and all the clients are yours.” Instead, it offers a mindset for effective and careful communication.

Main Point

If you treat another person with respect, you will be treated the same in return.

The book is not about words, but about the right attitude to people

Communication is a tool, you have to know how to use it. People are not a tool, you shouldn't use them, you should help them. The person you're talking to will be more willing to answer you if they feel good about your message.

We have a goal: to get advice, to make an appointment, to arrange a meeting. It is easier to achieve this goal if the recipient enjoys reading your email

So you could say that this book is about making an email enjoyable for the reader.

Respect People's Time

A whole chapter is devoted to emails about urgent tasks, and how they are written: “ASAP!”, “urgent”, “needed yesterday” and all that. People don't like getting messages with those things in them. But it's not the words themselves, it's the implicit attitude towards other people's time.

It's not the word “urgent” that annoys, it's the disrespect ...when your time is treated like an expendable item. It's annoying that a manager can push you around not because it's urgent, but just for fun... It's all disrespect, and it's all annoying

To make it easier for the reader to read the email, we need to do some work before we send it. Use an accessible subject, state the deadline for the task, lay out a brief gist in the first paragraph, and so on.

For example, you can take the key data from the attached file directly into the text of the email. Then, perhaps, the other person won't need to open the file and will respond faster. Dividing the text into paragraphs, choosing and numbering questions, explaining why you have to click the links—all this will make the email more readable.

The more work we do for the recipient, the easier it is for them to respond, the more pleasant it is to work with us

Don't count on email as an emergency method of communication

Anything in the email isn't “urgent” by default. If something is really urgent, it shouldn't be in the email

Don't Write Under Emotion

Emotional email can be written, not sent. Emotional writing can lead to unwarranted conflict. If you feel strongly about an issue, call or chat with the person.

How to tell if you're emotional right now: if you want to show that you're calm and reasonable, you're not calm and reasonable. You can't send a letter in that state

In work, it's rare for someone to hurt on purpose. If it seems like someone is behaving badly, it's more likely...

The person isn't a jerk, they just don't know how to do something

Respect a Right to Refuse

People like to do good things and help other people. We are social, and the feeling that I helped someone brings pleasure, and...

When we give a person the right to say “no”, they have more reason to help us

The right of refusal is especially important in cold emails, where the reader doesn't owe us anything. They may not even open the email. The purpose of such emails is to make contact and reach out, not to sell something.

Make the Reader Comfortable

Being polite is not about words, it's about intentions. To make the recipient comfortable means to do some of the work for them, to take some of the burden off.

This is a general principle of all communication: when one person thinks about the interests and convenience of the other. The mechanical repetition of cliches does not help—you have to think about whether it will be convenient for the particular reader

About the conflict between your principles of writing and the reader's convenience:

Principles-schminciples. The answer is unequivocal: it is necessary to do what is pleasant and convenient for the reader. There's nothing to argue about

Don't Cross Borders

I know from experience about carelessness with the name—I am constantly called Alexey. I'm not. Don't be like that.

If we could leave only one rule in this book, we would leave this one: be careful with the person's name

When communicating, it's okay to describe your emotions and feelings. It is dangerous to describe other people, to give unsolicited advice, and to evaluate work.

It's much safer to write about what we ourselves think and feel, and not to pry into the soul of another

Don't Manipulate

The most unpleasant emails are hypocritical and manipulative. People always see when someone's trying to deceive or manipulate them. They don't like it. If the situation is unconventional, you have to admit it. You have to be able to admit your own mistakes, too.

A person pretends to wish Elvira well, when in fact they wants to throw a lot of work on her for the weekend. And in order to, as they think, distract her attention, they begin to give her compliments, impose grades, and even pry into her personal life

It's better to say bluntly, “I understand that the situation is bad.” And then build your argumentation based on this

Be Ethical

Do not write anything that cannot be forwarded. Don't get personal in your complaints and don't judge the person, but the work and the result.

Don't write anything that can't be forwarded. Work correspondence is not suitable for discussions behind the scenes. There is always the risk that the wrong person will get the email

All complaints should be made without getting into personalities, and only the work, not the person or his professional qualities, can be evaluated

Make Cover Letters Personalized

Here again, it all comes down to human relations. If the letter is formulaic and is just trying to close a job, the employer probably won't see any use in it and won't respond.

A cover letter has no mandatory form. There are no format or length requirements; you don't have to recount your curriculum vitae... talking about your stress tolerance, communication skills, self-learning. Treat this writing not as a sacred ritual, but as human-to-human communication. One has a problem, the other has a solution. They want to negotiate

Don't Be Rude Back

It's the same here: be on an equal footing, don't get personal, don't violate boundaries, show genuine concern.

The main secret of a good response to a boorish and unjustified complaint is respect. It involves not doing three things: not booring back, not teaching life, and not coddling

Sometimes your company policies may not work for someone, that's fine. That should be explained, but don't teach life or try to change someone's mind. It's a lost cause, and it won't do any good.

The client is not always right. And if they're wrong, you have to explain it honestly and unashamedly. This is what respect is all about: not trying to please with all your might, but to calmly admit that we are not on the same path

Make Steps Towards

The book suggests that in every situation you take a step toward the person with whom you are communicating. In my opinion, this is a universal principle.

You have probably noticed: in almost any conflict, the first person to take a step toward wins. If a person is angry with us, we must be the first to tell them: “My friend, we are not your enemy, but your friend. How can we help you? How can we make you feel good?” This works everywhere, in every relationship, whether it's in the family, whether it's at work, whether it's with the boss, whether it's with a client. The one who takes the first step toward


Again, I don't know about official translations, so I just left the link to the book in Russian:

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