Tag Archives: interpersonal skills

Watch Your Mobile Manners!

With the widespread use of mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches for communicating in the business environment, it’s important to remember the role of manners and why using good mobile etiquette counts.

Here are some are tips you should keep in mind when communicating on your mobile device. (Please click twice on the table below to get a larger view.)

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Source: Dianne S. Rankin and Kellie A. Shumack, The Administrative Professional: Technology & Procedures, 15th edition, Cengage Learning, Boston, 2017, pp. 125-126.

If you want to improve your communication 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, 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: The Need to Know

11-25-2013 Book Image - Royce MurchersonWhen it comes to your career, what do you need to know? You are thinking, ‘I need to know the way to success’.  Life coaches and motivational books that encourage personal achievement will generally push ‘the art of the sell’. In plain language, you need to know the best way to sell yourself and promote your abilities. Why? The benefits are large.

From day one on the job, you’ll be writing your narrative, your story that will create an image along your career path.  The quality of your story will depend on communicating persuasively.  This is because you’ll be selling your ideas, solutions, and improvements which will get the attention of those in control of your professional future.  Your ideas will be communicated in the form of persuasive business documents: email, memos, reports and proposals.

What is the best outcome?  Think résumé. Think being able to say SOLD!  Each time your ideas or solutions are implemented, you can add them to your list of accomplishments.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ’S]

02-17-2014 Guest Blog - Royce Murcherson Image_1How do you get the best outcome?

You need to know your audience. This is imperative.  Know the ‘readers’ of your documents.  Think of them as ‘buyers’. You are the seller. They are the buyers.

 

02-17-2014 Guest Blog - Royce Murcherson Image_2Who exactly are the ‘readers’?

Your readers will be your bosses and colleagues.  Creating an impression that promotes your ability to communicate clearly and persuasively is directly related to your level of success.

02-17-2014 Guest Blog - Royce Murcherson Image_3What does it mean ‘to know your readers’?

To know your reader is to have a good idea of the position your reader takes on issues in the workplace. Your bosses will need to be persuaded to accept your good ideas, solutions, and improvements. In order to persuade your readers, you must have knowledge of their stated or unstated beliefs on workplace issues.  Meaning, you must be familiar with their thoughts and assumptions in areas of the business, particularly those for which you are offering improvements.

02-17-2014 Guest Blog - Royce Murcherson Image_4How do you go about ‘knowing your reader’?

  • Be diligent on the job. Stay informed.  Engage your colleagues in meaningful conversations on job-related issues.
  • Be aware of your boss’s success objectives. These are specific things that must be achieved to demonstrate success in your department.

02-17-2014 Guest Blog - Royce Murcherson Image_5How do you use this knowledge?

When you have a strong idea of what may be going on in the mind of your boss, 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 reader. Basic composition courses call this analyzing your audience. In my book, this principle of knowing your reader is based on the writings of Stephen Toulmin. He calls this knowledge ‘warrants’.  Whichever label you choose, here’s how both work on the job.

WRITING YOUR PERSUASIVE DOCUMENT AT WORK – A MEMO

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You have decided to write a persuasive memo that will justify a change in office hours. You want to convince your boss to give you a shorter work week for the same pay. For example, you will argue increases in productivity will occur with a Monday through Thursday work week rather than Monday through Friday.  First, you’ll need to understand why she wouldn’t want to do this even though you will be putting in the same amount of hours.

Before you begin to write your persuasive memo, you must figure out what she believes on the subject of shorter work weeks. This is where you begin to make assumptions or guesses. These assumptions or guesses are ‘what you need to know’, or as Toulmin puts it, the “warrants.” When you couple information with her success objectives, you’ll have a strong idea of what type of evidence you’ll need to convince her.

FIRST STEPS IN PERSUASIVE BUSINESS WRITING

Your great ideas for solving problems or improving processes in the workplace will only be ideas if you are not able to ‘sell’ them. As a friend advised, ‘don’t let your ideas fall on the floor’. You want your ideas to be implemented, to become real, and to produce real benefits for you and yours.

To sell them, you must master persuasive business writing, and to master persuasive business writing, you must understand the first two steps in an effective model that produces results:

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    • Step 1 – Know your reader’s stated and unstated beliefs with regard to the issue you are addressing.
    • Step 2 – Know how to locate the evidence that will serve as your support and appeal to your reader’s stated and unstated beliefs.

For a more expanded discussion on persuasive business writing, ‘warrants’,  ‘the need to know’, and the Toulmin Model of Argumentation in business writing, see my book, Royce Murcherson, PhD,  The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. (Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013) 1-11.

Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010

This article is the third in a four-part guest series written by Royce Murcherson, PhD, on how to improve your writing skills and behavior. Dr. Murcherson is a faculty member in World Languages, Cultures, and Communications at Richland College in Dallas.

For more information on BOSS course offerings in communications, the BOSS degree and certificates, and how the BOSS program can help you with your career, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu  972-238-6215.


Writing to Win: How to Keep the ‘Mood’ Out of the Message

11-25-2013 Book Image - Royce MurchersonHere’s the thing about electronic communication in the business world nowadays. You rarely have to face the person on the other end so it becomes easy to hide behind a wall of transactions like “reply and delete,” “follow-up, clean up, and forward.” In the section on ‘tone’ in my handbook, I wrote, “Do not think of email as some protective covering.” Actually, it should go something like this, do not think of business writing as protective covering. It’s anything but…..your writing and the tone you create in your messages can make you an open book, that is, open to other people’s interpretation. Try not to let this happen.

You will send many messages in the workplace. Typically, most of them will be in the form of email and instant messaging. But depending on your job, you may also be tasked with more formal writing such as letters, memos, and progress reports to name a few.

Just as the singing contestants in the NBC series, The Voice, work to create the most beautiful tone and win the contest, you must also work to create the most appropriate tone in your business writing. How? By understanding the origin of tone, and understanding what it takes to ensure your tone is always appropriate. Because the concept of tone is challenging and requires explanation and exercises, let’s confine our discussion to two basic questions and some solid advice.

02-10-2014 Guest Blog - Royce Murcherson Image_1Question # 1: What is tone?

In my handbook, I explain it in this simple way, “Tone is Attitude. And attitude is a state of mind that can be passed on in our words.”

 

02-10-2014 Guest Blog - Royce Murcherson Image_1Question #2: How do you know when your tone is appropriate?

Your tone is appropriate when you take the ‘mood out of the message’.

 

Solid Advice                                                                                                                                       Understand Emotional Mine Fields                                                                                                To keep the mood out of the message, know how to navigate the emotional mine fields. It’s good to have a happy and upbeat attitude. But what about the times when you are not particularly happy and upbeat? These are the times when you must work to keep your mood out of your message. Think about sleepless nights, car troubles, family matters, and workload deadlines. These can drive the tone of your message and can wreak havoc in business communication.  On the flip side, think about successes? Don’t let them go to your head. Remember, you are a member of the team and must treat your colleagues with respect. It can be easy to slip into the, “I’m the king of the world” attitude (Titanic, Twentieth Century Fox, 1997).

Avoid Booby Traps in the Mine Fields                                                                                            As you make your way through the mine fields, don’t be caught off guard and let your emotions lead you into the trap of…….

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             Being Contentious – Don’t use combative, bombastic language that    suggests you are the conqueror and your colleagues are the conquered.  Remember, cultivating teamwork means success for all.

          

02-10-2014 Guest Blog - Royce Murcherson Image_2         Being Arrogant – Don’t use high flying over-bloated language that would suggest you’re the smartest in the room.  Remember, it’s possible you have a lot to learn from your teammates.

     

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       Being Bossy – Don’t use pretentious and domineering language as if you have been given the ‘alpha’ role. Remember, this decision likely rests with others.

Why is it Important to Keep the Mood Out of The Message?                                                   Know that your mood can be caused by a single emotional response or a conglomerate of them. Emotional responses include such things as anger, sadness, indifference, arrogance, and sarcasm. If you need to take some time, take the time and write when you are feeling calm, clear, and objective.                                                                                                                

Know that your readers may misunderstand and think your emotional response is their fault, or that you are directing your anger at them when in fact you are angry with yourself.

Know that electronic messages are practically eternal in cyberspace. They may never be fully deleted either on the server or in the minds of your colleagues.  

Know that words have consequences.  What you think is acceptable or funny may be offensive to others. Do not use slang or overly familiar language. Do not use text-speak. Do not use expletives of any kind. Use Standard English and practice good grammar and spelling. Stay away from humor.

02-10-2014 Guest Blog - Royce Murcherson Image_3GOLDEN RULE – THE MESSAGE CREATES THE IMAGE                                     Some of your colleagues will never have the privilege of meeting you face to face and building a traditional working relationship. They will have to rely on your messaging. So, make your messaging worthy of ‘who you truly are’ and ‘how you wish to be known’.

For a more expanded discussion on tone in business writing, see my book, Royce Murcherson, Ph.D.,  The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. (Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013) 1-11.

Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010

This article is the second in a four-part guest series written by Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., on how to improve your writing skills and behavior. Dr. Murcherson is a faculty member in World Languages, Cultures, and Communications at Richland College in Dallas.

For more information on BOSS course offerings in communications, the BOSS degree and certificates, software productivity classes, and the Microsoft Office Specialist Certifications; contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu  972-238-6215.

 

 


Writing to Win: How to Survive Ethical Skirmishes in the Workplace

11-25-2013 Book Image - Royce MurchersonMaking the C.A.S.E. for Persuasive Business Writing involves more than giving your great ideas:

      • Currency [value]
      • Articulation [voice]
      • Selling Power [promotion]
      • Endurance [strength]

It involves giving your great ideas an honest and principled foundation based more on the good of all versus the good of one. In the hit medieval HBO series, A Game of Thrones, several warring noble houses repeatedly clash in their quest for the “iron throne.” They resort to the most questionable tactics to seize this great prize as their own. It is obvious that ethics and ethical behavior do not factor into their strategies. From that world to the business world in which you will likely find yourself, the great prize could be a corner office with a view, a dedicated administrative assistant, a six figure income, and an annual bonus with stock options.

Unlike the nobles in A Game of Thrones, you must stay within the ethical boundaries of ‘Corporate America.’ And staying within these boundaries means understanding the nature of ethical behavior. It doesn’t always boil down to the simple difference between ‘right and wrong.’  More often than not, you may find yourself in an ethical skirmish where the right thing to do may not be fitting, the wrong thing to do is not an option, and the in-between still leaves you with an uneasy feeling.

Surviving an ethical skirmish in the workplace requires a strong sense of self. What does this mean exactly? It’s simple. It’s when you realize it’s not about you all of the time. So forget the notion that a skirmish has to involve another party. The most challenging ethical skirmishes may be a conflict between ‘you’ and ‘you’ when trying to answer questions such as:

  • Is sharing a good thing?
  • Is taking responsibility a good thing?
  • How much commitment should I show?
  • Am I being truthful and honest?

What do these questions of ethical behavior have to do with persuasive business writing?  The obvious. You must be able to communicate your ability to solve problems and improve processes in a fair and principled manner. And to do this, you must be able to survive ethical skirmishes in the workplace.

TWO BIG RULES OF SURVIVAL:                                                                                            

Rule #1 – Avoid the ‘Me-Condition’

Try not to base all of your ideas, choices, and decisions on personal interest. Self-interest can be a good thing, but it can also run contrary to other people’s best interest.

Rule #2 – Test Your Conclusions

When situation and circumstance come into play, it can be hard to avoid the ‘me-condition’ and come to the most ethical conclusion.  So ask yourself three simple questions:

  • How might this conclusion benefit me?
  • How might this benefit hurt or help other people?
  • In the long run, how might this conclusion contribute to the kind of person I ultimately want to be?

Remember, more often than not, you may find yourself in an ethical skirmish in which your character could be tried. And as I state in my book, it’s hard not to think of your own best interest first. Because of this, you should practice the rules of survival being fully aware you may be engaged in a clash of conscious in what I refer to as the ‘grey zone,’ a place where interpreting the difference between right and wrong behavior can be tested.

This guest blog, which is the first in a four-part series, was written by Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., who is a faculty member in World Languages, Cultures, and Communications at Richland College in Dallas.

For a more expanded discussion on ethics and ethical behavior in the workplace, consult Dr. Murcherson’s book,  The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. (Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013) 1-11.

*You can refer to the HBO series or the novel, A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin for further description and discussion of the “iron throne.”