You are currently browsing posts tagged with editing

Five Communication Resolutions

§ January 1st, 2011 § Filed under communication, small business, training, writing § Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , § 3 Comments

Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.  – Brian Tracy

I guess everyone who has a newsletter, blog, or newspaper column tends to write the type of article in January that I’m about to inflict on you today. It’s the dreaded resolution column. (grin) So here it is. Here are five communication resolutions I would like you to consider as you make your plans for improvement in 2011.

First, resolve to read. Find a good book and enjoy the story. Read the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Read blogs and newsletters, but be sure to balance with edited work. Reading good writing will help your writing skills.

Second, resolve to proofread. Read your written communication aloud before sending it into the world. I don’t expect text messages to be grammatically correct (yes, even this grammar maven has given up on text messages), but make sure you include all the words necessary to convey the intent. Leaving a word out can change the meaning completely, creating either confusion or damage on the other end.

Third, resolve to use resources that help with common writing problems. One of my favorites is the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University. This site provides help with writing, from detailed grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure issues to writing related to a job search. If you need more detailed help, including one-on-one coaching, please contact me.

Fourth, resolve to correct your common errors. If you unsure how to use its and it’s, ensure and insure, affect and effect, list these words on a pad near your computer with their meanings. See Spelling: Common Words that Sound Alike. If you can’t figure out when to use good or well or bad or badly, you may want to print out Avoiding Common Errors.

Fifth, resolve to be kinder. Remember that while you may disagree with someone, you can nearly always find areas of common interest. You never truly know what someone else is dealing with or what causes them to view the world so differently from you. Try to pause before you respond to what someone has said, especially if he or she irritates you. Find a way to phrase what you say so that it does not insult the other person. That does not mean that you have to agree with them, but understand that a phrase such as “That’s not the way I see it” is much better than “You need to consider…” We need to find a way to heal the divisions between us. Being kind in our communication is a good first step.

Happy New Year! May your communication bring you closer to your customers, clients, coworkers, friends, and family!

Five Questions to Ask Before You Hit Send

§ June 25th, 2010 § Filed under communication, writing § Tagged , , , , , , , , , , § No Comments

“When I get ready to talk to people, I spend two-thirds of the time thinking what they want to hear and one-third thinking about what I want to say.” – Abraham Lincoln

One of the biggest communications problems is the lack of complete information. This results in a slew of additional back-and-forth emails, voice and text messages until the full information is received and acknowledged.

How much time do you spend having to get additional information when someone has sent you an email or left a message on your voice mail? Wouldn’t it save time if the pertinent information was included in the original message?

The easy way to make sure you are communicating complete information is to ask yourself a few questions:

Who? Who is the intended recipient? If it is written, who else might end up reading it? Who else needs this information?

What? What is the reason for the message? If it’s an email, make sure the subject reflects the content. If you are leaving a voice mail, leave enough information so that the recipient can respond.

Where? When? If you are sending information about an event, be sure to include the location and the day and time. If you are requesting information, be sure to specify when you need it. “As soon as possible,” “quickly,” “immediately,” and “in the next few days” mean different things to different people. Be specific.

Why? Explain your need for the particular information so that the recipient has some context.

How? How do you want the information delivered? Do you want a phone call? Or is postal mail appropriate? How do you want a task completed? Have you provided enough specific information that the recipient will understand exactly what you are asking? How will this message be received? Have you been diplomatic? Have you been too diplomatic?

You won’t need to answer all the questions every time you send a message, but it’s a good practice to simply read through your message and run through these questions. It’s a first step toward becoming an effective communicator. The truly gifted communicators follow Lincoln’s ratio.

Error-Free Business Correspondence

§ June 2nd, 2010 § Filed under communication, small business, writing § Tagged , , , , , , , , , , § No Comments

Want your email to be error-free? Here are some suggestions.

Do you have a tendency to forget to include important pieces of information in your emails or business letters? If so, answer the “5 Ws and an H” as you write:

Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?

Not every email has to answer all of these questions, but if you’re inviting someone to an event or explaining something important, running through these questions will help you cover all the necessary points.

Read it out loud

Once you have finished your email or business letter, read the whole thing out loud. We are all in such a hurry these days that it is normal to leave a word out or say something that doesn’t put across what we intended. Reading out loud forces you to slow down and check for errors. It’s also a good way to check for repetition or phrases that cause the reader to lose concentration.

Find an extra set of eyes

If you have the time, have someone else read over your more important correspondence. An extra set of eyes can give your text a fresh look and find errors that you are too close to see.

If you make a mistake, your reader will probably be able to figure out what you meant. Remember, though, that being clear and error-free makes you look more professional and makes your reader feel he or she was important enough to receive your best effort.

Newer Entries »