Tag Archives: communication

Essential Tips to Help You and Your Team with Collaboration Projects










Have you discovered that more and more of your work tasks involve collaborating with others?

As technology and the accompanying tools evolve, employers are finding it more beneficial to have their workers “come together” and to share ideas and materials for project development.

The Australian-based company INS (acronym for In No-one’s Shadow) has focused much of its efforts on preparing workforces for the future, which includes keeping current employees updated as well as helping companies keep their employees moving towards the future. Although INS is based in Australia, its outreach is global, which means the advice offered on collaboration can be used by all.

Below are several tips from a May 2016 INS article to keep in mind for your collaboration projects. You can click this link to read the entire article.

  • Understand the Bigger Picture—mentally move beyond your immediate group and role, and look at the larger outcome of why this project is important.
  • Clarify the Objectives—if everyone is “not on the same page,” the project may wind up going nowhere. Make sure the objectives are clearly stated and that everyone understands these objectives. As stated by INS, “…clarify whether all stakeholders and group members have the same objectives, and are working through any differences…”
  • Agree on Roles and Leadership—early discussions on and the identification of leadership and the other roles will make it easier to move forward on the project.  It is also important to establish accountability as it is connected to the various roles.
  • Know the Boundaries—just as accountability is important, it is equally vital for each person to know boundaries for themselves and others and to have these boundaries respected.
  • Develop an Ecosystem, not an ‘Egosystem’—remember, it’s about the successful completion of the project and not about someone grandstanding. Being a good listener (this goes for all group members) is essential.
  • Value Diverse Input—keep an open mind and realize that everyone’s contributions to the discussions and efforts should be appreciated.

If you want to improve your communication and collaboration skills, consider taking the BOSS program’s POFT 2312 Business Correspondence and Communication 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 email RichlandBOSS@dcccd.edu, or call 972-238-6215.

**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.



One of the greatest realizations seasoned professionals come to find out is the fact that ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’, meaning, you may not realize that even though you have years of experience in the office, this does not necessarily mean you are a great business writer.

Business writing is an art and a skill. It is artistic because a well put together business document can be a beautiful thing when it accomplishes your purpose.  It is a skill because it takes practice and the knowledge of three key considerations essential for effective business communication.  I will discuss each of these over the course of three posts, the first being this one which is dedicated to LENGTH.




To be effective is to produce a win. What is a win exactly? A win is getting the recognition you deserve after having your idea, solution, or process improvement acknowledged and accepted.  Therefore, it is important that you be well acquainted with these areas that will have everything to do with accomplishing your goals.

10-09-2016_bCONSIDER THE LENGTH of your document. This is very important because a reader can easily become distracted, disengaged, or outright bored if there seems to be no end in sight.  What is an acceptable length? It depends on the document. Email, interoffice memos, letters, reports, and internal proposals have different objectives. The objective drives the length, that is, the reason why you are writing the document. But it doesn’t just stop at its reason for being.


  • The Recipient – Have some knowledge of the individual to whom you are writing.  Is this person a stickler for detail? Or does this person prefer   ‘broad brush strokes’ rather than getting bogged down in the minutiae?
  • The Subject – Some subjects require more length than others. Longer topics should be summarized in an executive summary and detail can be provided in an attachment or appendix, satisfying the person who wants details, but not overwhelming those that want broad brush strokes. Always remember, LENGTH IS CONTINGENT ON THE TYPE OF DOCUMENT.
  • The Type of Document – Different types of documents have varying lengths. Below, are a few examples.

10-09-2016_cTypes of Documents and Their Lengths

  • EMAIL – [200 – 250 words] Email is considered a ‘brief’ form of communication. Be concise. They should be no more than three paragraphs. There are basically two types: informational and promotional. Informational email can be exactly what it is, a means of imparting information. They can also be persuasive, meaning, they are small arguments that are meant to sway opinion. Persuasive email tends to be longer than informational because you must be careful to include such persuasive elements such as a claim, support and considerations of audience. Informational email should absolutely be no longer than 200 words.
  • INTEROFFICE MEMOS – [300 – 350 words] it can be hard to tell the difference between the traditional memo and an email message. Memos frequently do not have the ‘MEMORANDUM’ banner at the top anymore. They are frequently sent in the form of an email or as an email attachment. So, is it email or what? No, memos are not email. They are longer. They can use various techniques to layout information such as: bullets, sub-headings, and the occasional table if it is very small.  In short, memos include much more detailed information. They are a more formal document.
  • LETTERS – [250 – 300 words] Letters have an inherent amount of power that sets them apart from email and memos, but they must not exceed one page. They may be composed to gather information or show appreciation. They can solicit new business or convey bad news. They can announce promotions or terminate employment.
  • REPORTS – [up to 500 words] Reports have the luxury of added length.  Because there are several types of reports: progress, term projects, activity, and feasibility to name a few, the length can vary. Five-hundred words would more than likely be a business progress report. Feasibility reports would be appropriate at this length. Activity reports can top out at 300 words depending on the activity.
  • INTERNAL PROPOSALS – [500 – 600 words] Proposals come in various shapes and sizes. They can be either internal or external. They can be either solicited or unsolicited. They can be as short as an email and as long as a ten-page document.  They have the luxury of being longest document you might every write. They are always persuasive in nature. In short, proposals are arguments which require length to be truly effective.


What is important to note when it comes to length of business documents is to keep the meaning of the word, concise, firmly rooted in your mind. When you are in the workplace, you are not in a classroom. You are not writing research papers, essays, responses, or summaries. You are crafting a message that your reader must realize quickly and clearly.

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: Handwriting in the Age of Electronic Communication

by Royce Murcherson

Royce top picture

As an author and teacher in today’s digital world, I am bombarded with email heralding messages of all sorts. But the messages that stand out most in my mind are the ones that arrived in a small envelope either slipped under my door or dropped in my mailbox.

One in particular was from a student thanking me for teaching a great class and letting me know how much she appreciated the effort. It would have been easy to send an email added to an already long list in my exploding inbox. Instead she chose to write a note that did not go unnoticed. Here was an individual who chose to express a sentiment in a genuinely real way.

In this age of electronic communication, it is easy to overlook the simple value of a handwritten note. Why bother when you can email, text, or send digital greeting cards? It’s easier to tweet, post, email, or pin. It’s fast, it’s cheap, and unremarkable. But isn’t it better to do something thoughtful and unexpected that differentiates your message from others?

Where is the inherent value in handwritten notes? It’s authenticity. It’s not just the words you put to paper, but the deeper message you send. Ask yourself, when was the last time you received a real paper message in your ‘real’ inbox at work? Chances are you may not be able to come up with a date. This is what makes a handwritten note important. They give pause because they are seen so rarely. Here are some key questions to consider.

Handwritten notes require extra time to compose a thoughtful message and check your own grammar and spelling. These notes will also require a small investment in stamps, notecards, or stationery.

You send a loud and clear message to the recipient. You are taking the time to convey appreciation or thanks in a more meaningful way than typical electronic communication.

• acknowledge hard work
• follow up a meeting or conversation of importance
• recognize accomplishments
• recognize service anniversaries
• express thanks, gratitude, or appreciation
• celebrate birthdays
• offer best wishes

In today’s workplace, technology is a wonderful thing. It’s a tool that improves processes and solves problems. It also creates opportunities for more time to accomplish the tasks that will help us to be successful. But don’t forget to take a little of that ‘saved time’ and invest it in an old fashioned practice that will create a lasting impression on your colleagues.

For a more other discussions on persuasive 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

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

One Student’s Advice: The Right Way to Use Social Media When Job Hunting

There have been a lot of great articles and posts written by professionals about the phenomenon of social media and how to use it effectively when looking for a job. However, taking the advice of a fellow student might be one of the best methods to use as you navigate the world of social media when seeking employment. Courtney Cartwright, who is currently a student in the BOSS program at Richland, offers us some great insight into her experiences with social media and job hunting.

When Courtney was recently asked to respond to a discussion board on the topic of social media and whether it could be helpful in finding a job, here is what she had to say:

I do have a social media site, Facebook.

When I was laid off in August, I used my Facebook account to help find employment. I have several friends who work for major companies, and so I would ask them privately if they knew anyone who was hiring, and if so, if they could obtain the information for me to send my resume [to their companies].

I also used Craigslist to locate jobs. I actually got the job I am on now through Craigslist. However, after I was hired, I was told that they did a search for me on Facebook to make sure I wasn’t a “bad” person, or that I wasn’t posting things I shouldn’t be.

Some people don’t like to admit it, but employers do search for you online to make sure you are not going to embarrass their company, and they want to make sure [the people] they are hiring are good people. There are also several other job posting sites within Facebook that can help people find employment. Some temp agencies use Facebook as a tool to search out people who may be looking [for employment].

One of the most important things that Courtney mentioned in her post was the fact that employers do search social media sites to find out more about potential job candidates AND as a way to “weed out” people they consider as inappropriate for employment with them.

Some words of wisdom to job seekers include: “Be careful of what you post (this includes photos) because once it’s on the Internet, it is truly public!”

For more information on the BOSS program and how it can help you prepare for a successful career, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu, 972-238-6215.

“Now there, their…they’re not all bad!”

When you need to show a person or object “in a location OR at a location,” use “there.”  Example:  There is a family-style restaurant on I-20 in Shreveport.

When you need to show that someone or something belongs to a group, use the plural possessive pronoun “their.”  Example:  Their mother is getting a promotion.

When you want to use a contraction for the words “they are,” use “they’re.”  Example:  They’re going to be moving to Santa Fe next spring.

For more information, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu 972-238-6215.

(Photo courtesy of American Pregnancy Assoc. Irving, TX)