Tag Archives: Business Communications

Writing to Win: Deliver What You Promise

WRITING TO WIN:  Deliver What You Promise

Delivering what you promise is crucial in the workplace. It not only reinforces your success, it also bolsters your trustworthiness. It is important to understand that delivering what you promise is a concept that applies to employee and employer. So, it is not enough to understand what you need to do to keep your promises. You must also understand what your employer needs to do to keep their promises. Making good on commitments is a golden rule.  Not making good can create adverse effects for the employee, the employer, and business clients as well.  Altogether, the overall well-being of your company can be threatened.  So, let’s take a brief look at how you can keep your promises, and how employers should keep their promises to you.

BUT…

HOW EMPLOYEES CAN KEEP THEIR PROMISES:

It seems as if there is more pressure on an employee to deliver than an employer. It’s certainly plausible given who has the most power. Clearly, the employer appears to be in that position because we don’t want to be fired for poor performance.  So, the pressure is indeed on. Hanging on to a paycheck and benefits is major motivation when it comes to committing to things that may not be possible.

  • Don’t Promise Unrealistic Delivery Dates – Realize your constraints. Present realistic deadline dates for yourself and your team. Yes, being an independent contributor is great because you feel you are the master of your own destiny and are not dependent on others. But what if you are a member of a team? You cannot always predict who will complete tasks according to the schedule. You cannot always predict when you can complete tasks given ‘life circumstances’ that may pop up.
  • Be Realistic when it Comes to the Burdens of Workload– Sometimes job responsibilities change, workload increases. And as I said earlier, employers sometimes underplay the real demands of a job. In either case, most people feel they can keep up regardless. Be thoughtful and above all, be honest with yourself and your manager.  Do not commit to fully satisfying the demands of a position if it is not possible. Voice your concerns so that you can avoid being perceived as over promising and under-delivering.

HOW EMPLOYERS CAN KEEP THEIR PROMISES TO YOU:

Most of us like to believe our employer will always follow through on assurances he or she has committed too. But sometimes this is not always the case. So, it is important to be aware of fundamental promises between employer and employee.

  • Employers Should Never be Biased when Granting Promotions – This is absolutely not supposed to occur. It compromises not only ethical principles, but practically speaking, customary human resource directives. And violating these directives can put the company at risk for civil suits given equal protection.
  • Employers Should Always Be Truthful about Job Responsibilities – Remember the old saying, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’? In some cases, if the pressure to fill a position is too great, necessity could entice an employer to stretch the truth when it comes to the realities of workload in a particular position.
  • Employers Should Never Allow Special Privileges to a Few – Seniority and long-time friendships should not influence favors and privileges in a non-union environment. Still, this can occur. An employer or manager given the right circumstances may over promise that he or she will not be partial to specific employees, but may not keep that promise.

WAYS TO AVOID AND RECOVER FROM OVER PROMISING:

  • Be honest with yourself before making a commitment on delivery dates with your client, or workload responsibilities with your employer. Can it be done?
  • Set realistic expectations with your client and employer.
  • Take ownership if you fail to meet expectations. If you are part of a team, do not place the blame on other members. This is counter-productive and will cast a negative light on you.
  • Communicate Quickly and Honestly. If you can see that you are not living up to promises or delivery dates, do not wait until recovery is not possible. As soon as you see the ‘danger signs’ either in your general workload, scheduled date to roll out a product or solution, SPEAK UP.

For an expanded discussion on business writing and workplace etiquette, see my book:

Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013

Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010

If you want to develop or upgrade your skills to help you in today’s job market, consider enrolling in the Business Office Systems & Support program at Richland College. You will have a wide selection of courses (offered online and face-to-face) from which to choose. These courses range from basic keyboarding, computer literacy, administrative office procedures, business communications, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access (includes preparation for the Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam**) etc. These courses can all lead you towards a college-credit certificate or a 2-year associate’s degree.

Richland College is in northeast Dallas and located at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information, please contact Angela Nino at anino@dcccd.edu or call 972-238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office 365***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a FREE version of Microsoft Office 365, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote, which can be used on up to 5 devices.

WRITING TO WIN: MANAGING EXPECTATIONS IN BUSINESS WRITING

10-09-2016_aIt would be a wonderful thing to know exactly what people expect of you over and above your duties and responsibilities on the job.  You’d know exactly what to do to meet these additional expectations in your day-to-day performance. Being that the probabilities are high that most of the population cannot read minds, you must devise other ways to manage the expectations of your audience, namely, your colleagues, managers, or key stakeholders.

This is the third installment discussing key considerations for effective business communication. We’ll call this one, managing the expectations of audience. Or, as it is stated: Consider the Audience.

WHO IS MY AUDIENCE? 

You already know your audience will either be your colleagues, managers, or key stakeholders. Now, you must learn to write TO their beliefs, needs, and expectations in a way that will ‘win the day’.  That is, the means by which you can accomplish the goals laid out in your report, proposal, or executive summary.

Your Goal Should Be a Simple One, SUCCESS:

  • The acceptance of your proposed solution to a problem
  • The acceptance of your proposed improvement to a process
  • The acceptance of the progress you have made in a key on-going project.

HOW CAN I KNOW THEIR EXPECTATIONS?

  • Be aware of the project’s or division’s success objectives. These are specific things that must be achieved to demonstrate success in your department.
  • Be diligent on the job. Keep your ears open, stay informed, and engaged in the workplace.

HERE’S HOW MANAGING EXPECTATIONS WORKS

If you want to convince your manager to give you a shorter work week for the same pay, you’ll need to understand why he/she wouldn’t want to give you a shorter work week even though you’ll be working the same hours. In other words, you must figure out what she believes on the subject of shorter work weeks.  This is where you begin to make assumptions or guesses about her feelings on the subject of shorter work weeks.  When you begin to make these assumptions or educated guesses, you begin to write to the needs of your audience.

11-07-2016_bHERE’S AN EXAMPLE

You are a pharmaceuticals warehouse supervisor. Keeping track of inventory is an obvious priority. You know that inventory levels have been inaccurate in the last two accounting periods. You want to propose a solution to the problem, but before you present a ‘proposed plan’, you must try and figure out the expectations of your manager with regard to this problem. In short, you present your plan in such a way as to address what YOU THINK his beliefs and expectations may be given the current shrinkage problem. When you begin to make a mental list, it may look something look this if you were to write it down.

11-07-2016_cWALK A MILE IN ANOTHER PAIR OF SHOES

The Director of Corporate Logistics distributes a monthly newsletter that highlights shrinkage and how it decreases company profits. You know your manager keeps a close eye on this issue and measures warehouse shrinkage monthly, then reports this to corporate logistics. You also know that your manager constantly talks about adding more technology and wants to be noticed by the Director of Logistics. You also know that your facility manager would like to avoid hiring more security personnel.

11-07-2016_dTHEN PRESENT YOUR SOLUTION

This will be the first paragraph in your proposal

Based on last month’s warehouse inventory, there has been an eight percent increase in shrinkage. Our monthly sales figures do not support this high level of ‘missing’ merchandise. Nor can we afford to hire more security guards. Therefore, I would like to recommend a technological upgrade in our present security system. It will help us accomplish our goals without increasing payroll.

11-07-2016_eWRITING TO WIN THE END GAME

When you have a strong idea of what may be going on in the mind of your audience, you will have a strong idea of how to sell your idea. This is the same as building a strong persuasive document. A persuasive document is an argument. And building a good argument starts with creating the foundation upon which it rests. This foundation is the need to know your audience which brings us back to the three key considerations in effective written business communication.

REMEMBER: To Write Effectively

  • Consider the Length
  • Consider the Data
  • Consider the Audience

For an expanded discussion on effective business writing and workplace etiquette, see my book:

Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that   Gets Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013

Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010

If you want to develop or enhance your business communication skills, consider enrolling in the Business Office Systems & Support (BOSS) program at Richland College.

Richland College is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information, please contact Angela Nino at anino@dcccd.edu or call 972-238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a FREE version of Microsoft Office, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote. You can install this software on up to 5 devices.


Writing to Win: Consider the Data

10-09-2016_aWRITING TO WIN:  THE ART OF DETAIL

If you asked a room packed full with one-hundred college level sophomores, what is the value of detail?  What do you think would be the response? But let’s make this more interesting. Ask those same college sophomores what is the value of detail if their political science final exam will consist of only three essay questions? Chances are you would get a highly respectable response to the value of detail.  No doubt, you would more than likely hear shouts of words, words, and more words.

If you asked a room packed full with one-hundred investment bankers, what is the value of detail? What do you think would be the response? Again, let’s drill down to specifics. Ask those same investment bankers what is the value of detail when a three-billion dollar merger is resting on a conversion of stock plan? No doubt, you would surely hear shouts of numbers, numbers, and more numbers.

Words and numbers, numbers and words, it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out ‘when a big lot of something’ is riding on a single document, to lead with all the support you can muster is the best way to go to meet your goal. But, remember the last post? It was all about length, correct? It explained the importance of decision making when considering length. Now, consider the importance of judging the quality and magnitude of detail.

10-24-2016_bTHE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAILS FOR BETTER OR WORSE

Just as length of a document is an important consideration, the same goes for detail. Let’s simplify and call it data or support.  Whichever word catches your attention, both mean the same.  The bottom line, data and support can work for or against you. Too much, too little, too weak, too irrelevant, too ambiguous, it all matters. So, pay close attention to the ‘kind’ of detail.

10-24-2016_cHOW DO I JUDGE WHAT IS THE BEST?

  • Think Quality
  • Think Usefulness
  • Think Relevance

Giving attention to these areas with which to judge your data will help you select the most effectual means to sell your solution to the problem or your idea for a better process.

10-24-2016_dBACK TO THE OFFICE

If you fancy yourself a great business writer, always consider the length of your documents. If you fancy yourself a shrewd business entrepreneur with aspirations of climbing the corporate ladder, consider the type of data that would be most effective in putting together a successful:

  • executive summary
  • proposal
  • progress report

10-24-2016_eTHE ART OF DETAIL AND HOW TO PRESENT IT

Figuring out how to present your data in the most compressive, concise, and readable way is an art.

 

THE HOW TO’S

  • Light on Text, Heavy on Visualization – Text is okay, but try to use PowerPoint Slides, Tables, Charts as much as you can. Too many words will lose your reader even if there are numbers embedded. This is where ‘quality’ ‘comes into play. Pick the best presentation mode so as not to distract your audience. Keep it simple and clear.  It is important to interpret what the numbers are saying, ‘sales are up 12% because…’  Communicate this with the ‘least’ populated visual that will get your point across.
  • Merge Your Data– You must always strive to be concise. Yes, detail matters, but you must be the judge of how much is too much. As the case with length, how long is too long? My best advice is to narrow to the most essential for making your case. This is where ‘relevance’ comes into play. For instance, ‘call volume is down 6% due to the month being two business days shorter than the prior month’. Gather all your data and judge it according to the most relevant, then eliminate the rest.
  • Scrutinize for Accuracy – Researching and gathering data is no simple task depending on your project or goal. It is easy to accumulate and accumulate. But as I said earlier, it must be relevant. Not only must your data be relevant, it must be correct. This is where ‘usefulness’ comes into play. Seek to find the most reputable sources or experts in the field to make your case. If your office setting is somewhat unique and you wish to make a more local case for change with local support, test it as you would a scientist. Opinions and general story telling of what transpires during the day in a certain situation is not strong. Be ready to observe, measure, and take detailed notes that can be translated into hard statistics.

Next time, we’ll look at the third and final consideration for effective business communication, ‘consider your audience’.

For an expanded discussion on effective business writing and workplace etiquette, see my book:

Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that   Gets Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013

Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010

If you want to develop or enhance your business communication skills, consider enrolling in the Business Office Systems & Support (BOSS) program at Richland College.

Richland College is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information, please contact Angela Nino at anino@dcccd.edu or call 972-238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a FREE version of Microsoft Office, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote. You can install this software on up to 5 devices.

 

 

 

 

 


Watch Your International Manners! Important Don’ts to Observe in 15 Countries

480098185--04-18-2016 Flag imageClick on this link to take a look at the Business Insider graphic that was created by authors Sarah Schmalbruch and Samantha Lee on what NOT TO DO when visiting any of the following 15 countries.

Body language along with other overt actions are very important components of your communications, and they should be kept in mind and respected when traveling abroad.

  1. Chile
  2. Croatia
  3. France
  4. Germany
  5. India
  6. Ireland
  7. Japan
  8. Kenya
  9. Mexico
  10. New Zealand
  11. Norway
  12. Russia
  13. Singapore
  14. Turkey
  15. United Kingdom

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-not-to-behave-infographic-2015-5

If you want to improve your communication skills or learn/update your computer software skills, consider taking a Business Office Systems & Support (BOSS) course at Richland College.

Richland College, which is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road, offers both online and on-campus courses. For more information, please call Angela Nino, Lead Faculty, aedwords@dcccd.edu 972-238-6382.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office Pro Plus***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a free version of Microsoft Office Pro Plus (or 2011 on the Mac) which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote.


WRITING TO WIN: Teamwork and the Three ‘C’s’ of Success

by Royce Murcherson, Ph.D.Royce 1 Man

What are the real benefits of teamwork in business? Why is it increasingly important? Teamwork and team building are being used in business environments where the nature of the work is complex or multifaceted, not to mention fast-paced. Working in isolation as a single contributor may not be as productive as several colleagues with different skills working toward a single goal. Successful teams rely on three effective mechanisms: communication, collaboration, and coordination. I will discuss each of these mechanisms over the course of three posts, the first being this one which is dedicated to ‘communication’. 

WHAT IS EFFECTIVE BUSINESS COMMUNICATION?

It is a successful exchange of ideas between colleagues or team members that produce solutions to problems, improvements in process, setting expectations, knowledge sharing, and creating awareness. In short, effective communication assures quality in products and services. 

Royce 1THE RULES OF EFFECTIVE BUSINESS COMMUNICATION

  • It should be concise.
  • It should present information in the form of a well thought out plan.
  • It should be clear and easy to understand.
  • It should speed up the decision-making process.
  • It should be inherently persuasive. That is, the material or information being presented should be convincing and factual.

FORMS OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION

  • Correspondence
  • Proposals
  • Reports
  • Meetings
  • Informal Discussions
  • Presentations

Royce 2VERBAL INTERACTION AND THE TEAM MEETING

Rules and forms of communication are obvious. What is not obvious is the manner in which team members or colleagues verbally interact with each other. Be aware that you are a member of a team which means each person has a voice in the process. When making comments or presenting information, be sure to invite your colleagues to respond with questions, improvements or enhancements, possible redundancies or even errors of which you may not be aware.

  • Consider Your Audience Your audience is your team, colleagues, or stakeholders. Written and verbal communication must not be overly informal. Think of the tone in which you are communicating. When writing, do not fall into ‘text talk’ or ‘sofa chat’. At the same time, do not be overly formal. Remember, you are not at a back yard barbecue, nor are you addressing Congress. This advice also applies to verbal communication. The most important skill is being able to identify your audience and adapt your tone and style of communication to the situation.

 

  • Question, Listen, and Encourage When working within your team, think of yourself as a teacher or facilitator. Yes, you should invite questions and comments, but you should also take it one step further. The roles of teacher and facilitator focus on developing a healthy exchange between students and attendees. What is the best way to accomplish this? Question, listen, and encourage. Question your team members on their points of view. Make a concerted effort to listen and show sincere interest in their ideas. When comments or feedback display creativity or ingenuity, encourage more dialogue. Invite your colleagues to explore their ideas and report back to the group.

 

  • Stay on Point Whether facilitating or communicating within a team meeting, stay on point. Follow the agenda. Be aware of time constraints even as you question, listen, and encourage. This burden does not always fall to the person who called the meeting. Each member has a responsibility to make valuable contributions.

Next time, look forward to my discussion of the second ‘C’, the benefits of collaboration in the team environment.

For an expanded discussions on effective business writing and workplace etiquette, see my book:

Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that   Gets Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013

Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010

 ______________________________________________________________________________
For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support department, contact Angela Nino, Lead Faculty, aedwords@dcccd.edu, 972-238-6382.

 


WRITING TO WIN: PICK UP THE TELEPHONE!

WRITING TO WIN: PICK UP THE TELEPHONE!
by Royce Murcherson

Royce 1 ManEffective written communication is absolutely essential in the workplace. I emphasize its importance in my book. I absolutely stress we must be strategic and persuasive when it comes to implementing beneficial change.   As much as I believe in the concept of creating a smart, intelligent image of yourself through your writing, it’s not the only means.  Pick up the telephone.

Yes, we live in a data age of electronic words which has pretty much replaced the traditional, “Hi, how are you…and… I have a quick question that will take care of the entire issue”.  The obvious concern with the present state of things is the lack of human-to-human ‘real voice’ communication. The exchange of ideas in our current environment rests on three main platforms: instant messaging, email, and texting.   We’ve grown used to it. We love it. Somehow we have lulled ourselves into the complacency of avoiding a real conversation because we think it takes more time.  But perhaps, it’s time to re think this digital substitution and think ‘old school’ instead. There are many advantages to picking up the telephone.

  • Royce PhoneNO MISTAKES IN TONE – The first is safeguarding your tone and avoiding mistakes of intention. Quite simply, you avoid SENDING THE WRONG MESSAGE. In section two of my book, I stress the importance of tone. It’s easy to inadvertently deposit your emotional state in an email, text, or instant message which in turn can cause unintended consequences. By picking up the telephone, you eliminate the guess-work. The tone and inflection of your voice, the conversational back and forth, the impromptu humor and discussion leaves no room for error.
  • RELATIONSHIP BUILDING – Building strong working relationships with your colleagues is very important and can likely contribute to your ultimate success. You may have heard the quote by John Donne, “No man is an island entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…”. This is exactly right in the business world . Teamwork is everything. And you can’t foster teamwork without building relationships. You can’t build ‘real’ relationships with only email and instant messaging. There must be some human contact to give those digital words life.
  • CUTTING DOWN THE EMAIL CHAIN – Texting is great for brief questions and confirmations, but not for conversations. When the text messages get too long and begin to go on for what seems like forever, you know when it’s time to stop and dial the number. The same is true with email. These types of messages should be brief, and should not go on forever. To avoid these never-ending chains, pick up the phone. One five-minute conversation could be equal to fourteen emails.
  • IMMEDIATE RESPONSE – Writing takes time. Time is precious during the workday. Why wait for a reply to an email, when you can get your answer much faster. Remember, everyone’s inbox is full. When you send an email, you get prioritized. Don’t get prioritized. Get your answer quickly.

For an expanded discussions on business writing and workplace etiquette, see my book:

Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013

Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support department, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.

 

 


Know Both Sides of the SM Coin

Take a look at the infographic below (click twice on the image to enlarge it) to get some tips on how you can use social media (SM) in your job search and career networking.

09-08-2015 Make Social Media Work For YouLet’s face it—Social Media is a part of the business landscape today; it can help potential employers find you online and connect with you, but you need to be sure your online presence is one that is inviting, engaging, and professional!

If you want to upgrade or develop skills that can help you in today’s job market, consider enrolling in the Business Office Systems & Support program at Richland College. You will have a wide selection of courses (offered online and face-to-face) from which to choose. These courses range from basic keyboarding, computer literacy, business communications, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access (includes preparation for the Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam**), office procedures, etc. These courses can all lead you towards a college-credit certificate or a 2-year associate’s degree.

Richland College is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu at 972-238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office Pro Plus 2013***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a FREE version of Microsoft Office 2013 Pro Plus (or 2011 on the Mac) which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote.

 

 

 


Five Tough Questions to Ask Yourself about Your Soft Skills
161146304

Are you a team player?

“Mastering technology to get a job and keep a job is a fact of life. Yet, technical skills alone are not an avenue to advancement. For career resilience, it’s important to connect with others in authentic and meaningful ways. That means pairing digital skills with soft skills—behaviors, practices and core values.”

The above is a quote from an article on the IAAP (International Association of Administrative Professionals) Web site.  The article appeared in the association’s January/February 2015 publication. You should be able to answer “Yes” to all but one of the questions.  See if you can determine which question’s answer is a definite “No.”

These five questions should be reviewed often!  If you are happy with the job you currently have, a reminder of the specifics of these questions will assist you in keeping that job for as long as possible.

Here is a link to the article:  Five Tough Questions


 

For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support department, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.


WRITING TO WIN: Persuasion and Occasion in Internal Proposals

WRITING TO WIN: Persuasion and Occasion in Internal Proposals

by Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., Professor of English, Richland College

Royce top pictureYou are a professional. You want to be successful. You want your good ideas to be noticed and implemented. What’s the magic formula? You write to persuade. You create carefully crafted internal proposals that will cause your supervisor to accept your recommendations. That’s easily said. The hard part is knowing the difference between a document that persuades a supervisor to accept a solution to an old problem, and a document that tells the story of an old problem.

One of the ‘booby traps’  in business writing that can cause your ideas to go unnoticed is telling a story rather than providing a solution.  This is called, ‘writing about the occasion’. For example, my students have in more than one instance attempted to write a persuasive proposal, but instead penned a narrative that told the story of a problem rather than presenting a solution. There is a big difference between occasion and persuasion, one of which you should be fully aware.

What is ‘Writing about the Occasion’?

  • Writing about the occasion leaves out relevant valuable detail.
  • Writing about the occasion gives too much time to tangentially related personal experience and the opinions/reactions of colleagues.
  • Writing about the occasion is background that over spends itself in immaterial details of what has taken place.
  • Writing about the occasion does not lay out a clear recommendation and solution.


X marksDon’t Write About the Occasion

You have discovered a way to increase productivity in the workplace. You want to submit an informal internal proposal to your supervisor. These are the things you think you must cover in your proposal:

  • You feel you must describe what’s going on.
  • You think you need to list all who are involved.
  • You are determined to include the opinions of your colleagues.
  • You are convinced you must include your big ideas and thoughts because you’re the one who has the solution.
  • You’ll write it all down from beginning to end in a long string of paragraphs.

This is exactly what you do. Congratulations! You have just written about the occasion of ‘poor productivity’ in the workplace. It might make an interesting tale, but remember, your supervisor doesn’t expect short-short stories from you. They expect ‘usable’ ideas that give way to solid solutions


2 checkmarkWrite about the Solution

So how do you compose a document that recommends, proposes a plan, and provides a solution without telling a story? You follow a blue print. A blue print is something as simple as a list of content sub-headings. If you keep to specific content and clear sub-headings, you’ll be safe. Think of these areas as a table of contents, or even an outline.  Below is a list of solution driven content headings in internal proposals:

  • Subject Line
  • Background
  • Statement of the Problem
  • Proposed Solution
  • Proposed Plan
  • Costs
  • Benefits

Confining your proposal to specific areas of discussion will keep you away from relating a story. It will leave you little room to digress and keep you to the job at hand. Structure, focus, clarity, and detail are essential. We all have a tendency to want to jump out there and start talking about what needs to be done, but this is not what needs to be done when it comes to writing a proposal.  Stick with content areas organized under short, clear sub-headings to avoid becoming a writer of short-stories.

Question MarkCan Occasion and Persuasion Cohabitate

It is possible for the two to happily occupy the same document on a very limited basis in the following areas:

  • The background in the proposal would be an appropriate place to include some personal on the job experience if it serves as an ‘attention getting’ device, or an anecdote that helps bring the problem into greater focus.
  • The statement of the problem is also another possible place to include a little story telling. Sometimes relating a ‘real experience’ is necessary to help convince and elicit an emotional response in the reader. This technique is called ‘pathos’ in argument theory. It is the use of language or stories that emotionally bind an audience to a subject and is likely to persuade an audience to change position. In the case of an internal proposal being submitted to your supervisor arguing an increase in safety protocols, a very limited description of on the job accidents could prove helpful.

For a more expanded discussion on composing effective internal proposals, see my book, Royce Murcherson, Ph.D.,  The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. (Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013)

Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010

______________________________________________________________________

For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support department, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.

 


The ABC’s of Email in Business Communication

Royce top picture

by Royce Murcherson, Ph.D.

Even though email is one of the most important forms of electronic communication, it is one of the most frequently misunderstood in terms of its impact on public opinion, professional dealings, and even personal relationships. In short, email carries a punch particularly when you are communicating with your colleagues and supervisors on the job. It’s powerful and it’s effective.

So, how could something so entrenched in our everyday lives be misunderstood? It’s easy to overlook flaws in things that are familiar just as you overlook the annoying habit of a brother that never removes his empty dish from the table after dinner.

Because of our familiarity with email, we fail to run through the ABC’s, those basic things that need to be paid attention too, yet are frequently missed when performing what we think is a good ‘proofread’ before we click the ‘send’ button. Let’s recite.

A RoyceA is for Announcing your Subject Effectively
Subject lines are very important if you want your message to be opened right away. It must be ‘attention-getting’ and it must be brief. While you may think of it as a simple thing to compose, it can actually be quite difficult. Think of it as a three to five word banner that clearly tells the recipient what your message is about. Those few words can communicate urgency, a call to action or delivery of important information.

B RoyceB is for Being Aware of your Tone
Because you are engaging in a business dialogue, you must always remember to keep your tone business-like, unbiased, and emotion free. It’s easy to forget to do this because you probably spend more time in personal email and texting which is a highly informal environment. You should not use slang or colloquialisms, and should avoid contractions. For example, forget about OMG, LOL, ‘see what I’m saying’, ‘hooked up’, and ‘I got this’. Do not substitute ‘u’ for you, ‘ur for your, or ‘r’ for are. This type of informal communication is not appropriate in a business environment.

C RoyceC is for Checking Your Word Count
The length of your message is extremely important. Typically, an email should be no longer than 250 words. Your message may be informational, responding to an on-going issue, or arguing a change of course in procedure. Regardless, you need to focus on being concise. If the subject requires more than 250 words, think about attaching relevant documents that provide additional detail. Remember, your recipients ‘inbox’ is almost always full. Do yourself and your colleagues a favor and avoid longwinded messages.

D RoyceD is for Doing Away with Misspelled Words
One of the most glaring, memorable mistakes you can make is failing to proofread your message for misspelled words. Always perform a manual spell check. Don’t rely on auto spell check to catch your errors because your email settings may not be set up to perform this. Mistakenly, you will believe all is okay when in reality all is not. Another ‘trap’ in auto spell check is the proposed substitution. The proposed word may be spelled correctly, but not the right word to stress your meaning. For instance, if you type the word ‘principle’ to denote value, spell check could incorrectly read it as a misspelled word and offer to make the change. The change it might suggest is ‘principal’. If you allow the change without manually proofreading, you have made a word usage error which might as well be a misspelled word.

E RoyceE is for Eliminating Grammatical Errors
As in manually proofreading your messages for misspelled words and not relying on automatic spell check, do not rely on automatic grammar checks. If you’re unsure about your skill in tracking down grammar errors, here’s a good technique. It’s simple. Read your message out loud. If a sentence doesn’t feel right as you’re reading along, stop and reread the problematic passage out loud again. Then look for the grammar mistake. It will be the there. It could be incorrect sentence structure, a missing word, or a case in which your subject and verb do not agree. You can also catch long wordy sentences [run-on], and sentences that lack a subject or verb causing it to be an incomplete sentence [fragment]. Bottom line, nothing is a good substitute for using your own brain.

For a more expanded discussion on composing effective business documents, look forward to further posts, and see my book, Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. (Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013)

Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010

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