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The Seven Sins Of Business Communication

seven

From spelling mistakes to over complicated and confusing rambling, poor business communication is rife and unprofessional – but easily avoided!

As getting something so pivotal so critically wrong could spell damage and disaster for individuals, departments and on occasion entire firms and companies, the need to recognise and right the wrongs of the written world of work is ever-present. So repent and pay heed to these seven sins, lest you find yourself in business communications hell.

Sin 1. Thou shalt not go on, and on and on

Like the deadly sin of gluttony, demanding too much and consuming entire pages of space with word-hungry demands, email attachments or other information is bad for your professional health. Not only is it an unnecessary drain of time and effort, but it also alienates readers and could cause important information to be skipped, damaging professional relationships in the process.

Whatever you’re saying, when it comes to business writing and communication keep it simple. State requests clearly, courteously and use as little of your recipient’s time as possible. Remember, your contacts are busy as well. You don’t want them dreading your calls or emails. Over-long, unclear reams of text are likely to be instantly ignored and discarded – especially with initial communications, and as you’re cultivating a professional relationship you will most likely have demands made of you too in the future – don’t make a rod for your own back!

Sin 2. Thou shalt not overcomplicate or abbreviate

Though it’s good to take pride in your work, take too much and you’ll start to look pretentious. Vocabulary pride is another deadly sin.

Excessively over exaggerating and declaring your behest through an extravagantly intricate broadcast (or overcomplicating your communications requests) is unnecessary and makes you difficult to understand. Plus it makes you sound as though you’ve eaten a thesaurus.

Equally, using complicated industry-specific jargon, internal references or too many acronyms is frankly, T.MI. (too much information!). References like this should not be used unless you’re absolutely sure your target will understand them. The same goes for using archaic, old-fashioned words. If you are writing an email there’s no need to write differently to modern speech as long as you are polite, business like, and (at least until you have established a working relationship) formal. Sounding as though you’ve stepped out of 1796 won’t impress your colleagues or contacts – it just makes life harder!

Sin 3. Thou shalt not be vague

Efficiency is key in business communications. You want to use up as little time and effort for as maximum a result as possible. To do this, keep communications structured, clear and obvious. Vague or confusing communications occur frequently (as seen above) but can be avoided:

  • Structure your work – Stating your main point (what you would put in a conclusion) first can help to display demands simply. Don’t put too many tasks into one message, and always keep email headers as explanatory and obvious as possible: “Task deadline Monday PM” rather than “Monday” for example.
  • Keep things short. But not too short! – Being brief is great, but it’s possible to go too far! Just sending someone the word ‘Friday’ may be a reminder for him or her to complete a task – but will they know that? Stick to structure and explanation unless you’re absolutely sure.
  • Don’t get carried away – Linking to the sin of over-written messages, veering off on a tangent or padding just overcomplicates the issue and bores the reader.
  • Use an active rather than a passive voice and assert yourself! – Involving yourself in sentences (active voice) rather than leaving them abstract (passive) helps anchor meaning, impact and personalisation to demands. Saying; “The company will review the report,” is not as effective as stating “I will review the report,” – and it gives you well-deserved credit! You should also assert yourself and make demands or deadlines obvious. It may sound demanding, but it helps people judge exact timeframes and prioritise, or request extensions if needed.

Sin 4. Not honouring thy target audience.

Communications rely on messages being understood, so keeping your reader and audience in mind when writing is crucial.

Before you begin, think about who your reader is and why you are contacting them. Is it someone you know, such as a colleague, or an outside partner/ client? Have you already built up a rapport with them? Considering this will help you to judge tone and style. If you’ve met them in person you may be able to be slightly less formal, but should still keep business communications at a professional level – at least until you know them better. After a relationship has been established, simple communications may not need to be so stuffy, though serious requests should remain business-like.

Again, be specific and don’t use overcomplicated terms, industry jargon or numerous acronyms unless you are absolutely sure they will be understood. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your own knowledge and industry, so taking that step back to consider outside communications from a your reader’s perspective can prevent you alienating them or making them feel stupid.

Sin 5. Thou shalt not use slang to impress

Just as redundant over-formal languagecan mask messages, too many jokes, anecdotes, humour, sarcasm, or clichés in a business message can prevent you from being taken seriously and can been seen as inappropriate.

Being overly casual, though it may seem more reader-appealing, could offend some recipients as not all jokes are taken the same way, and some may find a lack of professionalism very distasteful. A casual attitude may also detract from the importance of your message. Try instead to balance your writing: not too formal, but not too free!

Sin 6. Showing thy lack of grammatical skill

It’s a basic consideration, but grammar and spelling can impact the way an entire piece is interpreted and judged. Writing in a business situation, the standard of your writing skills will reflect back both on you and the wider company, so it’s important to get it right! Common sins include:

  • Spelling and grammatical errors – These are vary wildly, from simple grammatical errors (your, you’re, there, their, they’re) to spelling mistakes and typos. Always check you’ve used the right word for the situation, and double check the spelling of names especially.
  • Misplaced punctuation – Should you use a colon or a semi-colon? Have you overcapitalised your message? Should you remove some of the twenty exclamation marks you’ve placed in the introduction!? Under the umbrella of punctuation correction, bear in mind that full stops can often be used rather than commas for added simplicity: Thank you for making those changes, however there are a few things I’d like to add,” can be “Thank you for those changes. However there are a few things I would like to add,”
  • Treating the company as a pluralCompanies should be single entities, so when referencing the name, pretend the company is a person: ‘Example Corps. is going to,’ rather than ‘Example Corps. are going to,’
  • Over-thankfulness – As long as you are courteous, you should not have to keep thanking your reader throughout the message – unless you actually have something specific to thank them for. Mix up your sign-offs to show a little personality and rid your messages of a robotic quality – “Have a great weekend, see you soon, good to hear from you, I look forward to hearing from you etc,”

Sin 7. Ignoring thy proofreading tasks

It may be the last stage of business communication, but this sin, the sin of sloth or proofreading laziness, can undo all your hard work and be the most damaging.

Proofreading work before sending can reveal easily missed errors and typos, which may question your competency or attention to detail, and play a pivotal part in getting your business request granted or rejected.

Always double check spelling, grammar and word use, ensuring all names are spelt right and facts are correct. Keep presentation and layout in mind (such as using clear fonts and sizes, and don’t be afraid to ask a colleague for their opinion. A second pair of eyes will always help, especially if you’re sending something important!

Alastair is a freelance writer and has supplied this article on behalf of Communicaid a communications skills consultancy which provides courses for business writing

 

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Get ‘Er Done: Stop Procrastination

Procrastination is at the center of every college student’s life.  Let’s face it, if you didn’t procrastinate every now and then, you wouldn’t have any life at all.  Of course, if you want to continue attending college, at some point you are going to have to do some work.  When you’ve been having a great time it can be hard to trick yourself into really wanting to get back to work, but it can be done.  As with everything else, there are a few tricks that you can use to get yourself back into work mode.

Reward Yourself For Working

While the eventual goal of a good grade and graduation is lofty and appealing, it really isn’t a great in-the-moment motivator.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t be motivated – you are just going to have to find something that does work.  Try to reward yourself after a certain amount of work with M&M’s, movies that you like, or just a break to walk outside.  Of course, you have to stick with your plan.  If you struggle for control, ask a roommate or friend for help policing it.

Start With The Easy Stuff

Staring down a problem that you don’t understand is only going to make your legs give way and you flee from the room.  That doesn’t mean that the problem can’t be solved, it is just easier to do it once you have your momentum.  Try to find aspects of the work that are easy and start there – whether it is formatting your page for the essay, or writing a section you understand really well.

End With The Easy Stuff

Just like the beginning, the ending of a huge project is murderous.  You stare at the remaining space to be filled, or the problems left to be done, and they loom huge and intimidating.  If you are prone to giving up at the end, save yourself a little something for the end as well.  Maybe it is just reviewing the work or re-formatting the paper, but there is bound to be something light that you can use to keep yourself going at the end.

Plan Ahead

Sometimes we get so caught up in procrastination that we forget that we have real commitments going on in our lives.  Unfortunately, those commitments only ever seem to rear their head just when you need to get work done.  Take into consideration future events and move your deadline up accordingly, so that you don’t wind up writing your thesis during your cousin’s wedding.

Remove Distractions

Even when you have the best rhythm going, it can all be shattered in a single instant through the sound of a good friend calling, or just the friendly ‘bing’ of Facebook.   Life is going to do it’s best to keep you from getting work done.  When you sit down to work, eliminate those temptations – turn off your phone and log out of Facebook so that you can focus on the task at hand.

About the Author

Pan B. is a writer for Mycriminaljusticecareers.com. Becoming a police officer can be a challenge. But if you visit this website, it can help you stay informed with this great career.

 

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Five Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Freelance Writer

When you need a quality writer that will do exactly what you’re asking for, you may think it’s a simple task. But in reality, there are millions of writers around the world, and choosing the right one for your project could be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

The job can certainly be made easier if you’re using a freelance site to find writers, as these types of sites offer much in the way of tools you can use to communicate with prospective writers. But there are still several important questions to ask your would-be freelancer that can help make which writer to choose a much less stressful experience.

Ask Yourself First

The most important question to ask is what you need your writer to do for you. Does the project require design in addition to writing, or technical skills that not all writers possess? If so, these are important items to list in your project description. If not listed, much confusion on both sides could result if expectations aren’t clearly outlined prior to project start.

Communication

Working virtually means that more communication may be needed than if you were working with your writer in person. So ask your writer how they plan to communicate with you, and how often. If the writer’s plan is to only communicate once or twice per week and you don’t feel this is enough, ask them if they would be able to communicate with you more often. If they refuse to do so, this writer may not be the right one for your project.

In addition to the frequency of communication, enquire about how many modes of communication are available to the writer. For example, in addition to email, a writer may have access to voice or web cam chat. Knowing all of the types of communication they have available can allow for more productive conversation in the event you find one type isn’t getting your message across in the manner you desire.

Who Is The Real Writer?

While this question may seem like a no-brainer, it’s important to be aware that there are teams of freelance writers who may work on one project together, and then split the payment between them. This could mean that your project contains different writing styles, something that may not be desirable to you. If you prefer the style of one writer, then knowing beforehand who will be doing the work can help you avoid mistakenly hiring a team of writers.

Payment

Find out how your prospective writer expects to be paid. Freelance writers often have their own payment terms. If you find a writer whose style you like, but whose payment terms could be better, ask them if they would be willing to alter their terms slightly for your project. And don’t be surprised if you get asked by your prospective writer to slightly alter your terms. Being able to come to an agreement in a logical and civil way is crucial if you plan to hire a writer long-term.

Track Record

If your writer is an experienced one, they will have a portfolio of their previous writing projects. Looking at these will not only allow you to assess the industries they have written for in the past, but you may also be able to get information about what their other clients thought of their work. Some freelance sites offer statistics about each writer, including comments from their other clients and ratings for their work. All of this information can give you a good overall picture of what your writer may be able to accomplish for you.

Citations:

Guest author Ruth Suelemente is a seasoned freelancer, and has hired several for her company.  They generally focus on technology topics such as who the best internet providers are available in Houston.

 

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Tips for Remembering Peoples Names

We meet a lot of people over the course our lives. Depending on where we work and how we socialize, that number may be tenfold. Do you often find yourself in a room full of people that you have met before but you are struggling to remember their names? There are some tips you can use when meeting people that will help their names stick in your memory.

Be Interested

Pay attention when you are being introduced. Don’t be thinking of what you plan to say next or how you plan to make small talk once the introductions are made. Listen attentively and be interested in the name of the person you are meeting. Too many of us are wondering if we left something on at home or how we look or what someone across the room thinks of us. Be mindful of the introduction and give your attention to the person across from you.

Repeat

When you are first introduced to someone, repeat their name. Repeat it often. You are imprinting it on your brain. Ask them by name how they are doing. Ask them by name what they do for a living. Use their name in the sentence. This helps you to verify that the name you heard is their real name.

Picture It

Some names are easier to picture than others. Picture their full name and study their face while you are talking with them. Some people actually imagine the name of the person written across their face. That means they have learned the name and the face and are able to associate both correctly. Again, this works best when you are focused on the person across from you and not the one hundred things left on your to do list. Be in the moment and take the time to associate the name with the face.

Word Association

Another tip to help remember someone’s name is to associate a word or words with the person. If the person has characteristics that remind you of someone use those to help you remember the name. Associate the name of the person with what they do for a living if that helps you, or with where you met them. Anything that helps you associate the name with the person is what you are looking for– no matter how silly it may seem.

Record Name

If you meet this new person in a business setting and it is possible you are going to have future dealings with them, it is best to keep a file of new contacts. As soon as you can write down the names of the people you have met and even a note or two from the context in which you met the person. This will help you trigger your memory as well and will also provide you with valuable information should you need it in the future.

If all else fails, or if you met a lot of new people on any given day, you can ask someone what their name is. Don’t be afraid to ask. You can even explain that there were so many people at whatever event you were at and that you want to make sure you have remembered it correctly. It shows an interest and will also help start off a conversation.

Written with care by Terry Ford and proofed via Grammarly grammar checker. An online tool designed to help you deliver your best writing.

 

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