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Here is a related example: I received a phone call from Treehouse, an organization my husband and I have supported for many years. As I listened to the thanks of the caller, I waited for her to say something like "And now we would like you to increase your giving," which would have reduced her thanks to an appeal. I was delighted that she did no such thing.

She said, "I just wanted to let you know how much we appreciate your ongoing support. Thank-yous for job interviews are an exception to the rule about focusing completely on your appreciation. In such a thank-you, it is smart to remind your reader of your strengths and good fit for the job, without coming on too strong. Here is a good example of a thank-you sent by email:.

Thank you for the chance to interview for the position of administrative assistant. It was a pleasure to learn about your business, and I would welcome the opportunity to work for you. As a detailed-oriented "bean counter," I would relish keeping track of your accounts, managing the shopping cart, updating the websites, and coordinating your calendar. The schedule would be ideal for me, and walking to work would be a dream come true.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to meet. Please let me know if you need any other information to make your decision. Say thank you for gifts, even if you do not really like them. A gift is a gift, even when you wish it were something else, and a thank-you is required to support the relationship. Write a simple message like this one:.

Jeff, thank you for the lovely fruit basket. It was very thoughtful of you to think of me. I am sharing the grapefruit with the team, and everyone is enjoying the luscious, healthy treat. Use whatever communication medium will help you get your message out: Here are brief guidelines:. Thank-yous generally take just a couple of minutes to write and send. The good feelings they generate will live on.

Unfortunately, the opposite is also true: If you do not thank someone for their gifts or other contributions to your success, they are likely to remember the oversight. Write mighty thank-yous to nurture and build your work relationships.

Do you need a gift for a new grad or someone who's working toward a promotion? Consider Business Writing With Heart. It's filled with examples and advice on writing reminders, saying no, giving feedback, apologizing, replying to angry messages, and more.

Get the paperback from me at Syntax Training. Or buy from Amazon without the discount. I expect a book on communication—which is what storytelling is—to teach me something new or remind me of truths I had better not forget. The best stories trigger an emotional response, which is key to provoking empathy in our audience and unlocking decision-making. By adding one simple sentence, I could take the story from charming to profound. Not all stories have happy endings.

This point is obvious in life, but it may not be obvious in corporate storytelling, where we typically want to look good. Perhaps the story would end happily: But maybe the ending would be more sobering: The first is a story about crack customer service; the second version tells of a lesson learned.

That point reminded me to add a helpful blemish I had been thinking about to tone down the sunny sweetness of one of my stories.

When I took the story a shade darker, a truthful shade that was available to me, it added a deeper meaning. Thank you, Rob Biesenbach! Is the character real and relatable? Bring your story down to the human level.

If a problem exists, it must surely affect actual people! Is there sufficient conflict? Are the stakes high enough? For a story to work, there has to be something important at stake—a serious problem that cries out for action. Is there clear cause and effect? Causality is more meaningful to us than mere coincidence. Is there an emotional core? When your audience feels something, they are more likely to do something to act in the way you want them to act.

I found many wise gems and practical tips in Unleash the Power of Story. I like the way Biesenbach hammers home the point that you must recognize and gather new stories. A last-minute Google search for a moving tale will not yield fresh results.

I also appreciated the section on separating good details from bad ones. Good details set the scene and bring a story to life.

Bad details bog it down. According to Biesenbach, three ways to make details more effective are to simplify dates, make numbers more meaningful, and omit proper nouns. Here is some of his advice:. Simplify Dates Dates tend to trip people up. Was it a Tuesday or a Wednesday? The 12th or the 14th? Make Numbers More Meaningful Raw numbers should be rounded: Omit Proper Nouns Just about anything in capital letters is ripe for trimming, starting with names.

A good rule of thumb is "name the known and omit the obscure. If you would like to refresh your ideas about storytelling or think about the topic for the first time , I recommend this book. At pages, Unleashing the Power of Storytelling: This text grabbed my attention on the Sulphur Banks trail:.

Why deal with spelling in a national park? When you think about whether to use U. For Canada, a gray area or grey? One word is always spelled the same way: Each of the three short passages below has one error in the choice of a word. Can you find all three errors? Bishara's most recent position was principal designer for Barton and Bloss. In the interviews we conducted, his interviewers gave him the highest amount of positive comments compared with the other applicants.

Su was not able to meet with him. During our vacation in Washington, D. It will be fun to visit awhile and enjoy our capital and its many treasures. When writing to individuals who do not speak your language fluently, use words with fewer alternate meanings, i. Su might have had to regretfully decline, but it was regrettable that she was not there. For the building where the U.

The problem is i. However, the rule is loosening, and some writers accept "alternate meanings. How did you do? Do you want to invest in your proofreading skills? If you would like more practice identifying the right word, get my 60 Quick Word Fixes , which includes a item test.

Which words confuse you? You work against deadlines. Often you have to write quickly, even when the message is complex and somewhat delicate. This problem is especially true in email. For the past few weeks, I've been getting web design help from an excellent graphic designer, Barb Rowan.

When we go back and forth in email, not yet coming to agreement perhaps with me resisting a new idea , I can feel my stress level rising, and I want to be sure my tension doesn't come across in my writing. In situations like that, it's time to slow down and breathe.

Speed is not efficient when the result is an abrupt, unkind message. It can take hours or days to resolve misunderstandings and repair morale when something has come across as tactless and abrupt. Here are 10 simple ways I recommend to warm up your message and reduce the risk of hurt feelings.

A greeting acknowledges that you are communicating with another human being—not a machine. In a quick exchange of messages you can, of course, skip the greeting. But when you write again the following day, include one.

Virtually everyone appreciates being addressed by name. It is a simple gesture that can have a profound positive effect. Use your own first name. In email, many people use automatic signatures with their full name. Others use no name at all—they just end the message. But signing typing your first name warms up the message, creating a connection between you and the reader. Use complete sentences to avoid sounding cold or sarcastic.

Include words and phrases that communicate warmth and connection. A message without positive language can seem cold and abrupt. Use these words and phrases for a warmer tone:. Avoid cool, canned language. Others are canned and cold: Be clear when you are agreeing with the person or echoing their views. In a quick exchange of messages, you may be tempted to write a simple sentence repeating what your reader has already written. I was the one who recommended her!

Avoid the word immediately or now when you are writing with a request or assigning a task. Your reader may have several other immediate jobs, and your request may seem pushy and unreasonable, even if you are the boss. If something must be done immediately, stop by in person, phone, or email to ask whether the individual has time available. Assume that the other person is as busy as you—even busier.

Read your message aloud—exactly as it is on the page or screen. Reading aloud helps you recognize how your writing may sound to others. When you can, wait at least a few minutes between writing your note and reading it aloud. Have someone read your message before you send it. This step can be especially helpful when your communication will go to a group and when the reaction to it may not be positive. Your test reader can think about the people in the group and how to help them react positively to your message.

Often abruptness is accidental. At all times, do your best to focus on the big picture, the higher goal, and the long term when you write. While it might feel good to put down, unsettle, or get the best of a colleague in writing, resist that temptation. When you are hurt or angry, write a retaliatory message in your mind, have a big laugh or cry about it, and then do the right thing: The cost of repairing the damage of a rude or abrupt message—in time, money, morale, and frustration—is just too great.

Would you like to take your business writing to the next level? Try out my online course Business Writing Tune-Up. When I talked about the rules of writing to a group of professional communicators, the first question they raised was this: Is it acceptable to use both who and that to refer to people, or is only who correct?

Before I share my response, consider the question. Which word would you use in the sentences below? Or did your answer vary depending on the sentence? Normally I would give you my answers now, but the answer for every example is this: It depends on which style manual you use.

Thanks to Grammarly for flagging typos, especially one that almost caught me in an incorrect verb. I love it when a book on language teaches me a lesson. The book contains gems of errors that may sneak by copyeditors. Not every sentence contains an error. Did you have to think twice about some of them? Do you know which one? For his book Menaker did not choose simple typos or wrong words.

He provides the derivations of words and explores how the errors came into and enrich our language. Along with terrific drawings by Roz Chast, wonderful errors fill the book: The discussions of language are bonus material. Reading The African Svelte: Ingenious Misspellings That Make Surprising Sense , you might find yourself racing through some of the discussion to get to the clever errors ahead.

Or you might revel in the talk of language and the ways it evolves. Menaker also offered a few new words that seem to be sticking: His point is that language evolves in many ways.

I strongly recommend The African Svelte pages, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for writers, copyeditors, proofreaders, and people who love language.

If you need an extra set of copyediting or proofreading eyes to review your proposal, manuscript, or another piece of writing, try Scribendi. One of my partners, they provide high-quality editorial services at reasonable fees.

Would you like to catch errors before your clients and customers do? Take my course Proofread Like a Pro. Until now, I haven't had a satisfactory answer.

Writing From the Inside , by Jon R. Martin's who sent me a review copy. I counted around 90 examples. Too often books try to illustrate document design with short, simple examples.

Breaking up long paragraphs when the topic shifts would make the pieces easier to scan. These gaffes aren't silly typos. Business Writing Talk, tips, and best picks for writers on the job. Syntax Training Lynn Gaertner-Johnston. Subscribe By Email Have the latest posts delivered to your inbox! Proofreading Checklist to Avoid "Oops!

Which Pronoun Is Correct? Add me to your TypePad People list. Get AP If you create newsletter articles, HR policies, forms, reports, or other pieces that touch on current topics and data, you may catch yourself wondering about word choice: Should LGBT be spelled out on first use, or can the acronym stand alone? Learn the answers to these questions: Does your supervisor prefer details? When does your supervisor expect to be copied on your communications?

Does your supervisor need to approve any documents before you send them out? If so, which ones under which circumstances? Does your supervisor want updates from you? If so, how often? Will you write under your own name or your supervisor's name? If you write for your supervisor, be sure to copy their style. Pay attention to what people do in these areas: Do people use a formal or an informal style--or something in between? Are written pieces conservative or flashy in appearance?

For anyone who writes on the job. The Gregg Reference Manual: For writers at work, with helpful content for newsletter and magazine writers.

For editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders. The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition. Buy it from your favorite bookseller.

For science writers and editors. For anyone who writes for Canadians. How to Sell Yourself and Your Ideas. It is available from booksellers. Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery. This lovely book will help you present ideas elegantly and simply. Vivid before-and-after sample slides illustrate how to apply the principles to presentations.


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Books shelved as business-writing: The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr., On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinss. Effective Business Writing lays to rest the notion that business correspondence must be pompous and ponderous. Its numerous examples, which are simple and to the point, will give you confidence in your ability to write, and edit, effectively/5(15).

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These tips come from my award-winning book, Business Writing With Heart. It’s a great gift for a new college grad or for someone reentering the workforce. Get it from me at Syntax Training, buy it on Amazon, or order it from your favorite bookseller. Auto Suggestions are available once you type at least 3 letters. Use up arrow (for mozilla firefox browser alt+up arrow) and down arrow (for mozilla firefox browser alt+down arrow) to review and enter to select.