Archive for the ‘Professional Communication’ Category

Writing Template

January 15, 2014 Leave a comment

In order to help me produce more posts and I have designed a several templates, which allow for a different style posts.  Example below:



Introduction: Introduce article, provide, author name, link, political persuasion, bias, etc.

Summary: Provide a brief 1 to 2 paragraph synopsis of the article

So What? Or the Takeaway: What is it that you want your readers to take from the article. Why is it important? Why does the article matter?

I have constructed the template as table (tables are a great way to structure documents and forms).

 On the the left hand side,  I have what I call my “map.” I use the map to help me structure my thoughts and the article.  On the right side of the table is where I write my post using the left column as my guide. Then I simply paste over to WordPress and quickly format, preview, and post.
So far,  I have found it a helpful and efficient way to write.  My next step will be to integrate a more links and media to my writing. Ironically for this post, I did not use the template!

Getting from “we can’t” to “we can”

In  their recent article, Use Language to Shape a Creative Culture, the authors Tom and David Kelley explore how language can shape organizational culture.

In the article, the authors provide anecdotal evidence of how to move from statements like “we can’t do that” and “That will never work” to “how might we.” Three powerful words.

According to the authors:

The “how” suggests that improvement is always possible. The only question remaining is how we will find success. The word “might” temporarily lowers the bar a little. It allows us to consider wild or improbable ideas instead of self-editing from the very beginning, giving us more chance of a breakthrough. And the “we” establishes ownership of the challenge, making it clear that not only will it be a group effort, but it will be our group.

From my perspective, the takeaways are:

  • Seemingly small factors can be important in shaping an organization

  • Our words and our actions are always on display for co-workers, supervisors, vendors, outsiders, and customers. Never thought of organizations as a collection of voyeurs and exhibitionists!

  • I suspect the use of language in organizations is under examined

  • “I can’t” or “we can’t” are some of the worst words we can use.

  • Shift focus from the negative to the positive

In truth, I have never thought much about the importance of the language that is used in an organization, but suspect I will now.

Writing, DMAA, and OTJ

New year, new writing goals.  I just submitted a very short article to the Detroit Metropolitan Apartment Association (DMAA) for publication in their Driving Force newsletter. Hopefully the DMAA will publish it.

The article focuses on a few (6 to be exact) steps for improving on-the-job training (OTJ). I chose this topic because OTJ is very common and often poorly done.  However, I believe that its effectiveness can be improved upon simply by adding a little structure to the process.

Hitting send, I was nervous and excited. Often with my writing, I have been very cautious, protective, afraid of criticism, and extremely slow to “ship”.

Being like this, might protective my ego, but won’t improve my writing or ability to organize and communicate my ideas.  I think the goal is to get it “to good enough” and subject the word to the world.

Email and Professional Communication

Favorite Article of the Week. Okay, maybe not the best article I have read, but poorly constructed emails definitely “grind my gears.”  A good start is the article by Getting Things Done. Also see Amy Gallo’s “Stop Email Overload” found in HBR blogs.

To the list, I would add:

  1. The out-of-context forward. This occurs when emails arrive in your in box with little or no context as to what the sender wants you to do with it.
  2. Not sending a “receipt” when there is a submission of important documents. For regular submission of documents, especially large files, it might be easier to set-up a drop-box, than to have these submissions enter the regular flow of emails.
  3. An easier way to format lists, when composing an email.
  4. Hitting send without proof reading.

…remember to hit the return key once in a while!