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Viewing posts for category: Writing Best Practices

Tone-deaf E-mails

Are you “tone deaf” when you write e-mails? Your readers aren’t. Our writing workshop participants complain regularly about the negative tone in e-mails. Let us help you manage the tone in your writing.

To get started, try using these three tips to eliminate tone-deaf e-mails:

  1. Build allies not adversaries

Positive tone builds allies…negative tone builds adversaries. Look at the examples below and ask yourself, “Would the tone turn me into an ally or an adversary?”

Example A:

  1. Any further requests for paid time off (PTO) will be denied.
  2. As you have used all your paid vacation time for this year, you are not eligible for any additional paid time off (PTO). However, I am happy to consider a request for time off without pay.

Example B:

  1. I was told we have to work together on Project T.O.N.E. You need to understand that I won’t have time to work on the financial parameters or fix your errors.
  2. I am looking forward to working with you on Project T.O.N.E. and will call you next week to discuss our roles.

Positive tone is not just about being nice. You create it by using at least one positive word in your e-mail. Even when writing with a negative purpose, consider adding a little positivity to build a bridge with your readers. A simple word like please/may/together added to a request leaves your reader with a more collaborative attitude. Never miss an opportunity to build a relationship!

  1. Seek collaboration not just compliance

Negative tone leaves a bad taste. It leaves your reader angry, irritated, defensive – and focused on you and your inappropriate attitude. You should be communicating in a way that fosters collaboration – not just compliance. Take the high road!

  1. Fix the problem not the person

Neutral tone focuses on the problem or behavior…negative tone targets the person. When positive tone is not a reasonable option, try neutral tone to deal with difficult situations or feedback. Because neutral tone uses no positive or negative words, you force the reader to focus on the situation or their inappropriate behavior. They focus on the situation or behavior, not on you.

To sum up the cure for tone-deaf writing...

  •   Adopt a positive tone to build relationships and to spark a collaborative attitude in your readers.
  •   Apply a neutral tone to fix a difficult situation,.
  •   Relegate negative tone to a dark space somewhere!

 

 

Posted: October 16, 2014 at 10:52 AM
By: IWCC Training
(0) Comment/s | Categories: Writing Best Practices
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Posted: August 28, 2014 at 09:14 AM
By: IWCC Training
(6) Comment/s | Categories: Meeting Skills Series Presentation Skills Series Writing Best Practices
When to use e.g. and i.e.

How many times have you asked yourself, do I use e.g. or i.e.? E.g. and i.e. grew up in the same era – they are both Latin abbreviations. However, they have different meanings.

First e.g.
E.g. stands for exempli gratia which technically translates to free examples. Use e.g. when providing some examples of something. After e.g., you provide an example or list of examples, naming some items but not an all-inclusive list.

Correct:      Amphibians are animals that can live in the water and on land, e.g., bullfrogs, tadpoles.

Incorrect:   Tadpoles are the type of animal that can live in the water and on land, e.g., an amphibian.

Now i.e.
I.e. stands for id est or that is. Use i.e. when looking for another way to say something. After i.e., you would write a definition, metaphor or clarification.

Correct:     An elephant is an animal with thick skin and nails resembling hooves, i.e., a pachyderm.

Incorrect:   A pachyderm is an animal with thick skin and nails resembling hooves, i.e., an elephant.

Using the correct punctuation
You may have noticed in the examples above that these abbreviations do have one thing in common – punctuation. They both have periods between letters and a comma after.

How can I remember the difference?
If you like memory tricks, perhaps these will trigger you to remember the difference. Use the letters themselves to help you. To remind you that e.g. stands for examples, let the letters “eg” stand for egg sample. To remind you that i.e. stands for another way to say something, let the letters “ie” stand for in other words.

Posted: July 24, 2014 at 09:11 AM
By: IWCC Training
(0) Comment/s | Categories: Writing Best Practices
Take charge of your e-mail!

Have you ever hit the send button by accident before your e-mail is ready to go? Have you ever forgotten to attach that important attachment? Of course you have! We all have. In both cases, your e-mail is managing you.

What, no big deal you say? You simply write a funny apology e-mail. Oh yes - an e-mail that starts with: “Oops, I hit send by accident”. Or the other favorite: “Guess you might like the attachment – here you go…”

If you dismiss both situations as harmless mistakes, time to wake up to reality. You might find that these slipups could cost you a job, a sale, your personal credibility. At the very least, they cost you valuable time and create extra work.

Imagine if the e-mail is going to your boss, an executive or a client; both these slipups can cost you your professional image. You sure don’t look like the sharpest individual on the team. And, what if you are applying for a new position and forget to attach your resume or you hit send before you finish and proofread your cover e-mail? Either of these slipups could cost you that job and future potential with that employer. Remember – you have lots of competition out there who did not slip up.

Let IWCC help. Follow these two simple, foolproof best practices and never pay the price for either of these slipups again.

  • Make it a habit to leave the TO line empty until you have composed your message and are satisfied that it contains the right stuff, is error-free and speaks in a constructive tone. Then you don’t need to worry about hitting the SEND key too soon and paying a hefty price for it.
  • Make it a habit – when including an attachment – to attach it BEFORE you compose the body of the e-mail. You don’t want your reader to have to come back to you asking for that attachment.

Remember you need to take charge and manage your e-mail. Don’t let it manage you!

Posted: June 26, 2014 at 10:21 AM
By: IWCC Training
(0) Comment/s | Categories: Writing Best Practices
Subject-line-itis spreading in epidemic proportions

Readers report not one – but THREE – pain points in regard to e-mail subject lines. We call it subject-line-itis. Readers tell us that the pain stems from subject lines that often:

  • don’t appear at all;
  • are neither descriptive nor helpful; and
  • don’t change as the topic changes.

Although subject-line-itis is widespread, you can cure it. Follow these three Etiquette Must-Dos and stop the pain with relevant subject lines:

  1. NEVER send an e-mail without a Subject Line!

  2. Make the subject line as descriptive as possible to a) let the reader know what’s in the message and b) allow them to prioritize it. Don’t use a simple Re: as a subject line. Even a subject line such as Compensation Policy is not nearly as descriptive as Answering Your Questions about New Compensation Policy.   Sure, it’s longer…but it’s also more HELPFUL to someone at the other end who is wading through the 200 e-mails in their inbox and trying to decide which ones to read first. Remember your e-mail recipients receive just as many e-mails as you do and you are competing for your reader’s attention with many other people and issues.

  3. CHANGE the Subject Line or ADD to it, if you are responding to an e-mail string in which the topic has changed from the original. Better still, if the topic has substantially changed in the course of an e-mail “conversation”, take the trouble to initiate a fresh e-mail with a new and more appropriate, descriptive subject line.

E-mail can help your readers or hurt them. Don’t be the cause of any more subject-line-itis.

Posted: June 12, 2014 at 09:53 AM
By: IWCC Training
(0) Comment/s | Categories: Writing Best Practices

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