Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | November 19, 2009

Are You a Communication MVP or Bench Warmer?

Are You a Communication MVP or Bench Warmer?
The High Cost of Miscommunication

If communication was a competitive sport would you be a winner? For many, the main events in communication are jumping to conclusions, dashing to judgment and muddying the water. Poor communication prevents both parties from achieving their desired results. For business owners, the costs of poor communication are staggering. If every one of the approximately 2.6 million workers in Arizona makes a $15 communication error in 2009, the total cost is $39 million dollars. Most companies would celebrate if each employee made only one $15 mistake per week. Businesses lose money daily due to poor communication with incorrect orders for goods and incomplete direction from supervisors leading to re-work. The real cost occurs when poor communication sends customers running to the competition. Communication is the key to maintaining credibility with customers, vendors and employees and it must be demonstrated at every level of the organization starting at the top.

The foundation for successful communication begins with tone of voice. The emotional power in tone cannot be taken for granted. Tone of voice reflects emotion, and provides information such as a sense of the speaker’s superiority or disinterest. Issues with tone are not limited to face-to-face conversations notes Jane Haile Dominguez, owner of The Write Business Advantage, “Conveying the right tone in written business communication is critical to building good relationships and achieving desired results.” Poor tone, whether used with intention or not leaves the listener feeling dismissed and uncooperative.  

Word selection is another element in successful communication. Several commonly used words create patronizing and manipulative messages. Two offenders are “but” and “should.” The word “but” diminishes the value of the information shared.  Instead of “but” use “and.” Using  “and” encompasses the ideas of both listeners and prevents the other party from disengaging. Another word to watch is “should”, as in “You should have read the directions before you installed the software.” “Should” is manipulative and conveys a sense of shame to the listener. 

A critical factor in successful communication is self-awareness combined with an awareness of impact on others. Blindness to communication shortcomings is very common. This cluelessness is driven by personality traits such as the need to win or be right at all times. Other issues stem from poor listening skills or the inability to transmit a clear message.  The challenge for someone suffering from a lack of awareness is to recognize that a problem exists. 

Improve Communication Today:

  1. Begin with the end in mind. What is the desired result? Pausing to consider the outcome and effect on the listener prevents, lecturing, patronizing and vindictive communication which lead to resistance or rebellion from the listener.
  2.  Think before writing or speaking. What information is needed? Is the message clear?  When in doubt consider the 5 W’s: what, where, when, who, why and how. A supervisor that provides fragmented or vague instructions will experience frustration and disappointing results.
  3. What is your real purpose for the message? If the purpose is to “win”, reconsider. The desire for retaliation or moral superiority will not lead to a positive result.  Communication is not a competitive sport and an adversarial attitude will make matters worse. 

Before sharing a message, take a moment to “proof” it. A little hesitation before inserting foot-in-mouth or clicking enter can make the difference between a message that brings a desired result and one that creates conflict.

The ability to communicate clearly and effectively is a critical skill in a world that changes weekly. When results do not match the desired outcome, check to see that you are following the three steps to clear communication. The benefits are improved relationships, requests that receive the right response and customers who receive the right service the first time.

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Leslie Clark the President of SHIFT, works with business owners, supervisors and employees to provide great customer service through improved communication and problem solving. To learn more contact Leslie at (520) 971-0456, or visit her website at www.shiftcustomerservice.com.

Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | November 5, 2009

I’ll See Your Email and Raise You Two: Is it Time to Pick Up the Phone

I’ll See Your Email and Raise You Two: Is it Time to Pick Up the Phone?

Email programs didn’t come with instructions for email poker, but most everyone seems to know them. Ante up your first email, the receiver sees your email and raises you two. Often the receiver sends a bluff, and you have no clue what topic they are responding to.  Another hand is dealt and you send the next message hoping to get the result you originally wanted. Two more emails come back, they’re getting warmer. Perhaps if you ask your question in a different way, the response will be what you asked for, and the next email is played. By now no one wants to fold, and another hand is dealt.

Stop, before you deal the next round, is there a better way to get the right results? You’re not getting the response or information you needed, you’re frustrated, and your inbox is filling with useless responses. Look on the corner of your desk, or the console in your car, you have a phone. What a novel idea, call the person.

When is it time to pick up the phone?

1.  3 Email Rule: A total of three emails have gone back and forth, with no progress or resolution. In just a few minutes, you can have your desired result,  and the relationship with your customer or associate is stronger. Now you can delete all those useless emails, that is, if you can find them in your bloated in box. 

2.  Unclear Responses: The responses you receive are fuzzy. Perhaps the person did not understand your request or explanation, despite your best efforts to be clear.  More emails will probably not bring clarity, and most likely muddy the waters even more.

3.  No Response: There could be several reasons why you have not gotten a response. If it someone who you have not corresponded with before, your email could have been snagged by their spam filter. The receiver does not have time to sift through their email, and your phone call is the best way to get their attention. Perhaps your recipient is one of the few business people not on email day in and day out.

4.  Not a Priority: Your request may not be a priority for them. A short phone call can move you out of the slush pile and onto their priority list.

5.  Irritation Rising: You can sense frustration.  Responses are hastily written, appear abrupt.  Don’t allow potential or existing business relationship to be damaged.  The few minutes you will spend talking with them will build understanding and a stronger connection.

Most businesses depend on email, it is the backbone of their correspondence, but it is not always the best answer. Look at your own circumstances; are there times that a phone call would trump an email?  I admit, I prefer email. I can do it on my own schedule, it is quick, and I don’t have to navigate through some of the infuriating phone systems out there. However, if you want to give the best service to a customer, your boss, a colleague, a phone call can often do it better than another email. Yes, I know there are people who never seem to answer their phones, and you end up with all the other forgotten people in their voicemail system.  But many people do answer and will appreciate that you took the time to call. If something in the conversation, like a price, deadline, or an agreement needs to be documented, send a follow-up email. Don’t forget a useful subject line so the receiver can file and locate it in the future.

Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | October 6, 2009

Your Top 10 Email Frustrations: Survey Results

Survey Results: Your Top 10 Email Frustrations

View Image  The ease of email communication does not necessarily make it easy to communicate. It can be difficult to navigate through the barrage of emails filling our inboxes sapping our time, energy and attention. You voiced your frustrations loud and clear.

Thank you for the tremendous response, for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Special appreciation to all the great folks on Twitter responding with their usual insight and humor.

Here are “Your Top 10” frustrations with the business email you receive:

1. What’s the point? This is the biggest frustration for all of us. We read the first two sentences of an email and have no clue why the person sent it. Scanning (that’s how we read the torrent of emails we receive) the rest of the message, we still can’t find the reason we received it. If it is not from someone we know, we quickly hit the delete button. If it is from a known source or possibly important, we shovel our way through the mud trying to find the sender’s intent. Not only have we used valuable time to dig through the muck, our opinion of the writer went down a notch or two.

2. Subject line is blank, useless or off-topic. A close second for the biggest email frustration is useless subject lines. The subject line is supposed to be a preview of what’s to follow. It’s the only part of the message the sender can be reasonably certain we will read. So why do they squander it with meaningless headlines like; Hi, FYI, Good Morning, Tues. or leave it blank? I presume there was a purpose for sending me the email (at least in their minds), so why not tell me the main point up front? If you get my attention with a good subject line, I am more likely to read the rest of the email a bit more carefully. How difficult is it to change the subject line when the topic has changed? Last week I opened an email labeled “Project Update”, and it was a request for information on a completely unrelated topic. The sender is requesting action or information so wouldn’t they want to highlight it?

3. Wordiness. Bureaucratic jargon, worn-out clichés and other useless phrases contaminate even the best email message. Despite my best efforts, I know some of these tired expressions slip into mine. We would rather the writer got to the point quickly. Why don’t they? Many business people feel they have to dress their message in an Armani suit or trot out the $100 words to appear knowledgeable and demonstrate their expertise. Give us a short and clear message and we’ll declare you a genius.

4. Punctuation and Grammar Errors: We all make mistakes, and understand that others do too. But when an email is filled with grammar and punctuation errors, we focus on these and not the message. One of the most abused letters in the alphabet is “i”. It is not hard to capitalize a letter, and since they are referring to themselves, aren’t they worth the effort? I am not a grammar guru by anyone’s standards, but do try to use the basic skills. The choice to ignore basic eight-grade level English skills makes us feel unimportant, not worth the time and effort of fundamental writing skills.

5. Why didn’t they read the first one? You provided all the necessary information in the first email, and now they are asking for it again. Smoke billows from your ears as you find a nice way to tell them that you already sent everything they are asking for. I usually forward the original email with a quick note suggesting the first one might have been caught by their spam filter or lost in cyber-space.

6. Knowing when to hold ‘em: You were clear that this category was separate from angry, inappropriate emails, but referring to messages updating us on projects we are no longer involved in, those forwarded in an effort to disguise tattle-telling, and criticisms disguised as helpful comments. What about the person who walks by your office 5 times a day, why did they have to send an email? You also do not want the endless stream of joke, poems, cute pictures, and chain emails flooding into your business account, preferring to share those with family and friends through a personal account. Don’t forget the countless emails with no results. When the third email has passed through with no resolution, it is time to pick up the phone.

7. Hiding behind the email screen: You are upset with messages sent to shield the sender from speaking with you because of a difficult situation, conflict, or miscommunication issue. We know these are best handled in person, or at the very least on the phone. Email only flames the situation, and rarely results in a satisfactory solution. I understand that they don’t want to personally deal with unpleasant circumstances, but it can make a bad situation worse, damaging future associations.

8. Forwarding without editing first: We are all tired of messages forwarded complete with the entire thread still in tact and displaying every recipient’s email address. Wouldn’t it be nice if the sender edited out unnecessary information and summarized the important points? Telling us why they are sending helps soothe our impatience. Senders take a risk when forwarding long threads. First, the odds of us reading beyond the first two sentences in the message are slim. Second, there may be information the original sender did not want others to see. Sometimes we forget that any email we send can be forwarded to anyone. By some magic, people find the one piece of information we did not want broadcasted and make sure everyone sees it.

9. Abrupt or rude: Chances are the sender did not mean to appear harsh. They forgot how important tone is when writing. Without the benefit of facial expressions and gestures to convey their attitude, we can only interpret their words. If they had used full sentences, chosen better words, or taken a moment to read the message before sending it, I like to think they would have rewritten it.

10. Reply to all: I keep thinking I can remove this reminder from my better business writing workshops, but inevitably, a participant brings it up and others quickly chime in with their own tales of annoyance. It is kind of someone to thank the person who provided extra assistance, but did all 233 of our inboxes need to be clogged with a message for one person? We think it is simple common sense, but it remains one of the top ten frustrations.

Did your biggest frustrations make the top 10?  Is the survey missing something you find exasperating in the business emails you receive.  Please leave a comment for a follow-up article.

Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | September 22, 2009

Five Easy Tips for Fat-free Business Writing

Five Easy Tips for Fat-free Business Writing

In school, we were concerned with meeting minimum length requirements for writing projects. Now we contend with the limited attention span of business readers. School writing projects encouraged us to become experts at adding extraneous words and phrases to take up space and extend the word count. This practice carried over to business and a large inventory of padded phrases and expensive sounding words became standard. Just like the ones we used in school, they do not add to the content. Instead of enhancing clarity, they put up detours, distracting the reader from our main point.

“I believe more in the scissors, than I do in the pencil,” Truman Capote.  What we cut out of our writing is often more important than what we add to it. Most business communication now takes place through email exchanges, and the role of good business writing is central to success. Barraged with emails, business readers quickly scan an email or document for the main point or the answer they seek. A few people reading this article will scan the short paragraphs, but others will go straight to the five tips. Pad your business communication with extraneous material and the reader concludes there is nothing they want or need, quickly moving to the next one. The business writer who is frugal with words writes a more readable document or message, increasing the chances that the reader will actually read it.

OK, we have heard repeatedly that good business writing must be concise, clear, and succinct, but how do we do that?  Here are several easy examples to purge business writing of useless clutter.

  1. Cut the fat: This is one diet I can stick to. 
    1. Replace: on a daily basis, with: daily
    2. Replace: until such time as, with: until
    3. Replace: at the present time, with: now
    4. Replace: for the purpose of, with: for
  2. Redundancy relief:  No need to say it twice.
    1. Replace: close proximity, with: near
    2. Replace: basic fundamentals, with: fundamentals
    3. Replace: after the conclusion of: after
    4. Replace: absolutely necessary, with: necessary
  3. Wimpy words:  Either it is or it isn’t.
    1. Allegedly
    2. It has been reported that…
    3. Contrary to many…
    4. It is generally considered that…
  4. Useless phases: Apply delete button often.
    1. I would like to take this opportunity
    2. It has come to my attention that
    3. It is interesting to note that
    4. As a matter of fact
  5. Overpriced words: Use familiar, simple words and your readers won’t stumble.
    1. Replace ascertain, with: find out
    2. Replace disseminate, with: send out
    3. Replace consummate, with: complete or conclude
    4. Replace: precipitated, with: caused
Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | August 12, 2009

Thank You, But No Thanks

Thank You, But No Thanks

The Risks of Abbreviated Business Courtesy

We have abbreviations for most everything now, even to express emotion. LOL (Laugh Out Loud) is just one of hundreds, or perhaps thousands of abbreviations and acronyms used daily in text messages, tweets and other social media posts. Condensed communication forms work well in these environments, but are never appropriate for business, especially when it comes to courtesy. Truncate your good manners and you risk undermining crucial business relationships. Business courtesy itself is a separate and expansive topic. For now, do not consider it an option, but an opportunity to build and strengthen business connections.

When my daughter or a friend sends me a quick text message or email that says “thx” or “thanks,” I know it is sincere, because I know them well. We don’t have the luxury of  an established  history or rapport with most of our business associates. Use either one of these reduced forms of thank you, and you risk the reader interpreting it as insincere or at best, a limited version of appreciation. When we are the recipient of a verbal “thx”, we have the benefit of their tone of voice and facial gestures to instantly determine if it is genuine, sarcastic, or offhand. However, “thx” in business communication is often construed as a quick, mandatory response, with no real appreciation behind it.

Emails barrage our readers’ in-boxes every day. Genuine courtesy builds great business relationships. It can do what no other type of communication can. Courtesy can be the key to enticing your reader to read your emails a bit more carefully, instead of the customary 3-second scan.  Good manners will open doors to new opportunities and more success. Gracious communication enhances the recipient’s perception of you. You begin to appear more knowledgeable, your material more valuable, and the time spent communicating with you deemed a higher priority.

Don’t risk your courtesy being construed as terse or disingenuous by using abbreviated and condensed good business manners. There are simple keys to ensuring your business courtesy is well received, elevating you and your business relationships.

1. Typing “thank you” takes only a second or two more than to type  “thx”, but the effects last much longer.  Most business courtesy takes mere seconds, minutes at most, and the return is exponential.

2. Personalize your gratitude—be specific.

Barely Acceptable:  Thank you.

Great Improvement:  Thank you for taking time to provide  excellent information for my article.

Not this: Thx for the info. I’m busy now, but will look at it soon.

Use this: Thank you for providing the requested information. I look forward to reviewing it on Thursday.

3. Don’t use a canned, auto-thank you response. Readers are savvy, and will instantly spot them, immediately sinking your efforts to build great business relationships.

4.  We all welcome appreciation, so be generous with your courtesy and gratitude.  However, going overboard is not good either. When your thank you is way over the top for something small, readers sense another kind of insincerity.

5. Be prompt with your appreciation. The closer in time your thank you is to the occurrence, the more impact it has. The sooner you express your gratitude, the greater the effect. A late thank you, although well intended, is often perceived as checking off an overlooked item on your task list, lacking in authentic appreciation.

6.  Make a dazzling impression by sending a handwritten thank you note. We are all inundated with information flying at us from every direction, in all its electronic glory. The few minutes it takes to send a short hand-written note and the response from the receiver, makes it more than worth your time. Handwritten notes are a rarity now, and their mere appearance on someone’s desk makes them stand out.  They are quickly read, and any requested or needed action transpires quickly. You have told the receiver that you value the relationship, and they will not forget. 

Recently I was unable to reach a client. Each call landed in their voice mail system.  Knowing this person received an endless stream of messages, I opted to take a few minutes and send a personal note.  You guessed it, I received an email the same day the note was received and the next step to increasing my business with this company completed.

Don’t risk damaging important business relationships with abbreviated courtesy. Invest a few minutes to extend genuine appreciation and reap the rewards today and tomorrow.

Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | July 21, 2009

The Top Five Essential Rules for Business Email Responses

The Top Five Essential Rules for Business Email Responses

Since email is the primary way we now communicate for business, it is crucial to respond well, presenting the right image of our business, and ourselves. The manner in which we choose to respond business emails has a direct impact on the future of those relationships, whether with existing or future clients, customers, colleagues, and other business associates. A well-crafted and appropriate response goes a long way in building or maintaining strong business relationships.

  1. If you do nothing else right when responding to an email, get the name correct. Nothing puts off a reader faster than to have their name misspelled.  Misspell the reader’s name and you immediately diminish your credibility and discount everything else you write. Misspelling a name unmistakably tells the reader that they are not important enough for you to take the time to check how they spell their name. Since you are responding to the email sender, all you need to do is to look at their email for the way they spell their name as well as how they want to be addressed. Today there are more unfamiliar names, creative names, and unique ways to spell common names, so it is imperative to take a moment and ensure you are spelling it correctly.
  2.  

  3. It is essential to respond to the sender’s question, proposal, or other material first, before adding your own comments and questions. We have all had the frustrating experience of sending an email with information or questions then receiving a response that has nothing to do with our original email. Did they not read our initial email?  Do they think our subject matter or we are unimportant? Readers severely decrease their attention to what we write when receiving a response ignoring their original subject matter. Remember this when responding to friends and family too. Acknowledging what the sender wrote whether for business or personal correspondence is the best way to make them feel valued. The opposite is true too. Launch into your own agenda, ignoring what the sender wrote, and you clearly tell them that you do not value them, their subject matter or issues.
  4.  

  5. Courtesy is always the best way to begin a response, and end one. Thank the sender for their question, comment, or for providing information. If the sender is writing with a complaint, there are many ways to respond that satisfies the reader without admitting fault or assigning blame. A good way to respond to a complaint is to thank the sender for bringing the issue to your attention or simply acknowledging their experience. Use an appropriate closing and always include your contact information, even if you are positive that the reader has it.
  6.  

  7. Don’t forget your better business writing toolbox. Make use of the right format and never skimp on good grammar or punctuation, whether it is a one-sentence response, or detailed report. A well-formatted email, using correct grammar and spelling, tells the reader that you value the business relationship.  It shows that you are a professional they want to work with, and fosters better on-going communication.
  8.  

  9. Limit the response to the original topic. Don’t use your response for introducing new or additional subject matter. If there are other issues you would like to discuss, write a separate email with an appropriate subject line. This way the first topic can be completed, and subsequent business matters will be the central focus.  Remember, we are all lazy readers, so be sure to express your main points in the first two sentences, or it may be missed. Readers often begin scanning after the first couple of sentences, and 75% of your readers will miss your point if the bottom line is not at the top of the message.

Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | May 5, 2009

How to Be an Expert Before Lunchtime

How to Be an Expert Before Lunchtime

A simple formula will make you an expert before lunchtime, or at least be perceived as one, and you don’t have to do any math. 

Present your information in a correct and pleasing format whether in an email, article, newsletter, proposal, whatever you are writing. When a reader looks at material that is organized, and easy to read, they immediately conclude that you are knowledgeable and competent.  The reader also presumes that this information is accurate and useful.  Remember, the opposite is true too. Readers will deem information presented in a careless or shoddy manner as inaccurate, worthless, and your credibility plummets.

Here are eighteen tips to help make you an expert before it’s time for your pudding cup.

  1. Headlines:  Make your material immediately appealing and provide a roadmap for the reader.
  2. Write from the reader’s perspective:  You are writing for their benefit, not yours, save those thoughts for your diary.
  3. Grammar, punctuation, spelling:  Ignoring these essential elements demonstrates that you do not value the reader and reduces your authority.
  4. Write upside down: Tell the main purpose in the beginning. You are not writing a mystery novel.
  5. White space:  Increases likelihood that reader will want to read your document or email.
  6. Bullet points and numbered lists:  Readers appreciate easy-to-scan material.
  7. Short sentences:  Enhances readability of material.
  8. Familiar words:  Keeps your reader engaged. Example, “find out” vs. “ascertain”.
  9. Concrete words:  Abstract words and phrases are confusing and do not improve your status.  Instead of “near future,” use a specific time reference, such as,  “next Wednesday.”
  10. Active voice:  Passive voice in writing is a snooze for readers.  Passive: It is believed an overstatement of earnings has been made. Active: The company overstated earnings.
  11. One topic or idea per paragraph:  You do use paragraphs don’t you?
  12. Blank line between paragraphs:  This white space is non-negotiable.
  13. Trim the deadwood:  Unnecessary words like “in fact,” “personally,” literally” are empty of meaning and add no value.
  14. Use numbers and specifics:  Instead of “the project is way behind schedule”, write, “the project is three weeks behind schedule”.
  15. Watch those roving “I’s” :  Use nouns instead of pronouns.  Replace “I think” with a phrase like, “a good choice is….”
  16. Acronyms, abbreviations:  Explain the first time, even when you are sure readers will know the meaning.
  17. Don’t repeat yourself :  You are not being paid by the word and readers will quickly tire of the unnecessary replication.
  18. Humor – save it  for friends and family:  What seems funny when you write it often falls flat when read by recipients.
Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | April 21, 2009

What’s In a Name?

What’s in a Name?

 

There is a lot in a name when you are writing for business.  There is the importance of establishing a good relationship, and of course, common courtesy.

 

We all make mistakes, and our small typo’s and errors will be forgiven or overlooked.  However, not taking the time to ensure you address the reader correctly will be noticed, and can instantly alter their opinion of you.

 

First, make sure you are spelling the recipient’s name correctly.  Look at their email, their business card, or any other way you can make sure you are spelling their name correctly.  Taking the time to ensure you are spelling the recipient’s name right says you value the potential or existing relationship. To put it simply, it is the basis of business courtesy. There are now more creative choices now for spelling even common names, and not taking the time to get it right can say, “I really don’t want your business” or “I am not a professional”.

 

Use the reader’s name the same way they sign their emails, show it on their business cards, or list it directories, etc.  For example, my brother Michael does not use Mike, and for a potential business associate to use it would be a red flag to him that this person may not be someone he wants to work with.  Not every Susan wants to be called Sue, and not every Robert is Bob or Rob.

 

It’s simple, just get the name right, and you’re off to a good start. If you are unsure of the correct spelling of their name or the name they prefer to be called by, than simply ask them in your email.  The reader will flattered that you took the time to get it right.

Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | April 7, 2009

Think the Subject Line Isn’t Important?

Think the Subject Line Isn’t Important?

 

What’s the big deal, it’s just the subject line. Not using this valuable tool or squandering it can make the difference between your reader opening your email or letting it decay with all the others in their crowded inbox.

 

A great headline gets the reader’s attention and makes them want to open the email.  Utilize this prime real estate to highlight key information, an opportunity or the main purpose, with an active and engaging title. It is the first place to make an announcement or request. A good subject line also serves as a reminder in your reader’s inbox.

A blank subject line tells your reader that your message is so unimportant, that it doesn’t warrant a title.  Don’t count on your reader taking the time to read your message when you can’t be bothered with typing a subject line.

When we don’t immediately recognize the sender, we will delete messages with vague subject lines such as:

1.     Hi.

2.     Good Morning

3.     FYI

4.     As you requested

5.     Update

6.     A joke for you

7.     Great news!

Even when we know the sender, a vague subject line may delay the opening the email.  Is that what you want?

A good test for a useful and functional subject line is to ask yourself; could my reader easily find this email again? I cannot count the number of times I have received an email that I want to access in the future with a blank  or indistinct subject line and had to forward it to myself so I could locate it later.

Not this:  Prices

Use this: Check Our Updated Widget Price List

 

Not this: Meeting

Use this:  Monday Meeting, 9:00 a.m. – Agenda Changes

 

Not this: Help

Use this: Need your input to complete crucial monthly report due today

 

Not this:  Thanks

Use this:  Thank you for your assistance today

 

Not this: Info

Use this:  Great resource to help with your marketing project

 

Make the subject line work for you.  Don’t forget to change it as the subject matter and topic progresses.

 

 

Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | March 30, 2009

First Impressions

 

First Impressions 

 

  

Within the first three seconds of a new encounter, we are evaluated and judged. It is no different with our written communication. People form instant impressions about us based on our writing skills in an email, newsletter, article, report or employee evaluation. 

  

Internal and external customers, vendors, colleagues, even bosses’ immediately appraise our abilities and expertise from what we have written. They make snap decisions about the value of our company’s products and services merely on the image presented in our written communications. 

  

Email is often the first and primary contact with our customers, associates, and contacts. They open our email and immediately determine whether they want to work with us, engage our services, or buy our products. People judge the content and deem it accurate and useful, or of no value, simply based on how it is presented. 

  

Fragmented sentences, poor grammar, wrong word choices, and lack of format, immediately sink our message no matter how valuable or informative it is. Slipshod attention to even simple business correspondence tells the reader, in no uncertain terms, that they and their business are not important to us and forces them to question our capabilities. 

  

How do you make a good impression in an email? Let’s start with the correct format, we will address other components in future segments. The standard block business letter format is still the tried and true format. Using the correct format tells the reader you value your business association with them. If you are using electronic transmission for a formal letter, use the inside address for yourself and the receiver. Other email correspondence may omit this element, however, be sure your contact information is below your signature. 

  

Make sure your first impression announces to your readers that you are the best person to do business with. Let your knowledge, competence, and value shine through with the right format.   

  

Here is a sample of the block format to use as a guide:  http://www.savvy-business-correspondence.com/BlockBizLetter.html 

 

 

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