Where does the punctuation go in this sentence?

Where do you put the punctuation in this sentence? I need to be correct!

“Interdepartmental communication and collaboration are essential in forming favorable relationships with and a common view of the customers and community.”

I think:

“Interdepartmental communication and collaboration are essential in forming favorable relationships with, and a common view of, the customers and community.”

Your knowledge would be appreciated.


The sentence would be grammatically correct either with or without those commas. The real problem is that it’s a badly written sentence that takes several readings to understand. Have you just taken a course in how to write managerial goobledygook? There’s no reason to use that terminology and sentence structure unless it’s to impress your bosses who insist on that sort of nonsense. I would rephrase it as follows:

Communicating and collaborating well with others in the department is necessary before one can create good relations with the customers and the community or even to get a shared understanding of them.

I think your suggested punctuation makes it clearer than the original sentence, but I agree that it’s not a very well-written sentence.

I like **Wendell’s **suggestion.

jamespmondo is talking about interdepartmental communication (between departments) whereas Wendell talks about communication with others within a department (intradepartmental communication). If that is fixed, Wendell’s version is, indeed, better, but as it stands it gets the meaning wrong. It should be something like:
Communicating and collaborating well with staff in other departments is necessary before one can create good relations with the customers and the community or even to get a shared understanding of them.
If you must keep the original management-speak wording, it is (marginally) better with the commas. You have them in the right place.

“Interdepartmental communication and collaboration are essential in forming favorable relationships with, and common views of, the customers and community.”

Semantically, you’re on your own though. It’s empty words to me.

I think it’s OK to form common views with another entity, so if you insist on the baseline gobbledygook then:

“Interdepartmental communication and collaboration are essential in forming favorable relationships and a common view with customers and the community.”

I like it better with “the” in front of “community.” You can throw in a “both” or two if you are emphasizing a particular couplet, but if it’s just supposed to be a general statement, leave it out.

As mentioned above, I’d be more concerned with the fact that these sort of obvious statements come across as a bit vapid.

The point is who has the common view. It is not to have a common view with the customer and your department. The point is for staff in different departments to share a common view about their customers. So, Chief Pedant, you would actually be changing the meaning of the sentence to be about communication with the customer, not communication with other departments.
For the original sentence, setting “and a common view of” off in commas is to make that a subordinate clause, but it isn’t intended to be a subordinate clause. Therefore, the commas actually don’t belong there. But they help you parse the sentence. Which should be a sign, if you need commas that don’t belong there in order to understand what is being said, it is a poorly worded sentence.

Wendall is correct. The sentence can stand on its own without the commas. The commas do add some clarification.

However, I suggest you apply the K.I.S.S.* principle to the sentence. It is hard to understand and full of inside jargon. If an eighth-grader can’t read it, go back and rewrite the thought-- especially if your target audience has a varied background.

*Keep it simple, stupid!

Unless, of course, “and a common view of” is an entirely secondary goal. In that case, I’d set it off with em dashes or make it a parenthetical.

He means “Our employees need to talk to each other to keep the customers happy.”

Does he, though? Or is this some kind of general statement about business practices, delivered at a seminar?

We can’t make an assessment of the effectiveness of any piece of writing without understanding its purpose and its intended audience.

I think there is a consensus. Your suggested punctuation is correct. But your excessive jargon is unnecessary.

Oh I get it. I just don’t see the need for it. If there is anyone in the intended audience who finds some sliver of wisdom, some grain of hereinbefore undiscovered truth in that sentence that changes the way they conduct themselves, then that person needs to take up some other profession - maybe ice sculpturing or something of the sort - because they are already so far behind the ball that the ball must look like a piece of stardust to them.

What I’m saying is that it’s just meaningless glurge.

If there are communication problems between departments then a manager needs to come in and say "Right, we’ve noticed problems X and Y occurring so from now on we’ll be doing ABC to try to remedy that.

I think you underestimate how screwed-up a company can be. Usually I think that the sort of advice that management consultants give is a total waste of time and money. The sentence in the OP is one example of this sort of advice. However, occasionally a company is so messed-up that they actually need someone to come in and explain something this elementary.

Wendell, methinks you are speaking of every insurance company out there. :smiley:

Given the same set of words, and only the use of commas to clarify, the form above is the best you can do. If you used parantheses and operators as programming languages do, you could write:

**Wendell’s **suggestion, to reform the sentence, is a better method to communicate using common grammatical syntax.

I am not sure but I think zero commas, one comma (after “with”) or two commas would all be acceptable.
For no particular reason I like the one-comma solution.

A few other suggestions:

[li]It is not necessary to use both “communication” and “collaboration”. If you “collaborate” then you are also communicating, so drop “communicate”. [/li][/ul]

[li]“Forming favorable realtionships” is unnecessarily bureaucratic-sounding. How about “having good relationships with”?[/li][/ul]

[li]“Consistent” or “shared” might be better words here than “common”.[/li][/ul]

[li]No article is needed before the word “customers”.[/li][/ul]


“Interdepartmental collaboration is essential in having good relationships with, and a consistent view of customers and community.”

It still doesn’t look exactly right to me. Maybe someone else can do better.

This post has been Shatnered by the Shatnerist!

No commas!:

Utilization of interdepartmental communicatory essentials additionally to collaborative essentials
will promulgate formulation of a commonality-enabled view of the customer and the community.

If it is just correctness you are looking for, then the commas have no place. The original sentence is flawless. Adding the commas would either make the sentence technically incorrect or introduce a stylistic touch.

Or…did you think the readers needed a little time-out between “favorable relationship with” and “common view of” in order to allow both those concepts entrance into the mind? What, they aren’t smart enough to take both concepts in, in the time it takes to read one sentence?

I think people are smart enough to absorb “favorable relationship and common view.” It’s not at all that complicated.

I guess it’s the adding of “with” and “of” that makes it seem like some sort of puzzle? Shouldn’t. It works the same either way.