Have you ever noticed that many professional letters you receive at your home or business are absent one very important piece of information—the date? If I had a gold dollar for every piece of correspondence that was prepared without a date at the top to indicate when the news was issued, I could afford to miss every deadline imposed by their limited-time offers:
- “Sign and return in 10 days to collect your prize money,”
- “Respond in 30 days to activate your free life insurance policy,”
- “Reply in 60 business days to accept your full-ride scholarship.”
Ten, thirty, or sixty days FROM WHEN, I feverishly ask myself when I discover the piece of paper tucked underneath a pile of to-do items!
If this particular deficiency has escaped your attention, it’s either because you’re inordinately prompt in handling whatever actions are called for in the correspondence, or you use a “date received” stamp on all your incoming mail, or you assume the calm (and enviable) attitude that whenever you happen to get to the required tasks will be soon enough.
Now seriously for a moment, look at how many letters you receive that notify you of salient changes in your credit card agreement, bank account fees, insurance policy endorsements, medical plan coverage, product warranties—and the list goes on. Don’t businesses realize the significance of conveying the initiation date of their notifications?
So now imagine that you could gain some control of the situation, by ensuring that every dateless letter you proofread includes an “insert date” comment; wouldn’t that be satisfying? Think of how appreciative those letter-drafters will be after the initial shock of realizing their oversight, accompanied by exclamations of “D’oh!” in typical Homer Simpson fashion.
I daresay it’s time to raise awareness of the critical yet elusive month-day-year, which longs for that coveted position beneath the company letterhead. I for one plan to do my part to coax those phantom dates out of the shadows!