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Asking questions

If you serve a questionnaire on the respondent, or ask them for further details of their response to your claim, send your questions by email if you possibly can. That way, you will make it easier for them to answer your questions in a document that incorporates both questions and answers.

Suppose your questionnaire goes:

6. Please answer the following questions:
(a) Do you accept that I am a disabled person?
(b) Do you agree that I have asked you on numerous occasions to consider adjusting my working hours so that I do not have to travel at busy times?
(c) Do you agree that the nature of my work is such that it is rarely time-critical over short periods?
(d)…

If you have just sent a hard copy, their response may well simply go:

(a) No.
(b) Yes.
(c) Not entirely. It is often necessary to have your input on queries that are raised by sales staff within an hour or two.
(d)…

This will be extraordinarily annoying to use, because anyone reading it will have to keep flicking back to the questions to find out what the answers mean. It is much better for everyone if questions and answers are interleaved, thus:

(a) Do you accept that I am a disabled person?
Answer: No.
(b) Do you agree that I have asked you on numerous occasions to consider adjusting my working hours so that I do not have to travel at busy times?
Answer: Yes.
(c) Do you agree that the nature of my work is such that it is rarely time-critical over short periods?
Answer: Not entirely. It is often necessary to have your input on queries that are raised by sales staff within an hour or two.

If you email your questions, it is more likely that your respondent will do the sensible thing in replying – because you’ll have saved them the trouble of re-typing all your questions.

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