Shirley's Articles / Business Writing

Robot Or Human? You’ll Be Shocked!

If you’ve seen any of my articles recently, you’ll know I love sharing my passion about the importance of our writing skills, particularly in emails. You may remember my recent article Don’t Write Like A Robot. Make A Human Difference. Well, something happened recently that made me think I may have to eat my words.

A friend I haven’t spoken to for ages reached out to me on Facebook messenger saying she would love a Zoom chat to discuss a potential collaboration. She said her assistant Clara would be in touch to schedule this. Here’s the email I received:

I replied to Clara, and very quickly received this response:

Closer to the meeting time, I realised I’d double-booked myself, so I wrote to Clara apologising and suggesting some alternative dates. Clara’s instant reply was:

When I eventually spoke to Gina, she shocked me when she told me that Clara is a robot. I’m rarely speechless, but this knocked me for six. My email conversations with Clara have continued, and I’ve shared the threads with some friends. None of us would ever guess she was not a real person.

So let’s face reality. This is just another example to show that AI is not just the future. It is here and now! Clara’s emails sound just like a real human. In fact, Clara’s emails are better than many emails I read from real humans.

Clara’s emails are simple, brief and friendly. Her language is natural and conversational. She uses short, clear sentences and everyday words. In her emails, I can hear the human voice, and I can feel the human touch.

This doesn’t worry me at all. But it might worry you. If you or your colleagues are still using outdated, long-winded jargon, passive voice and redundant phrases, there’s a lot we can learn from Clara.

So much for me saying, “Don’t write like a robot. Make a human difference”. I think I need to turn that around. Perhaps my job now is to teach people how to write like robots?

Clara’s emails make a real human difference. What about yours?

I’d love your thoughts. Please drop me a note at

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Shirley is an international bestselling author. She has established herself as a leading authority in email and business writing skills. Her international bestseller Model Business Letters, Emails & Other Business Documents 7th edition sold over half a million copies worldwide and has been translated into 17 languages. Her book Email Essentials reached #2 in the USA for publishers Marshall Cavendish International. Find out more about Shirley at

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