I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy! Tash

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Finding your business monster

Are there any monsters hiding under your business bed? Or perhaps yours is hiding behind your phone or in the pile of outstanding paperwork…

Laura Patrolino shares a story about the monster under her childhood bed that wasn’t really there when she looked. For a year, she followed behaviours that suited her fear rather than reality or her best interests.

The question is, do you have monsters under your business bed – that is, are there behaviours you follow in your business that are based on fear rather than a solid business decision? Or maybe behaviours based on misinformation, outdated ideas or factors that no longer apply (for instance, it may have made sense to work at night when you had a toddler under foot in a home based business but not now that your child is a teenager and you work full time business hours).

Have a look at what you do (and don’t do!) and think about the reasons and emotions behind them. You may find writing some procedureswill help you identify processes based on something other than efficiency and effectiveness.

So did you find many business monsters?

Exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last year, my daughter was taught about reading exclamation marks – that is, if she was reading something out loud and saw an exclamation mark, she knew to raise her voice at the end of that sentence.

Today, I was asked how to stop using too many exclamation marks in writing – and I found it an interesting question!

I can’t say how many exclamation marks is too many – it depends on the length of the document and the context, of course. But over use of exclamation marks can cheapen the impact of your message, making it look like hype and unprofessional. An exclamation mark shows a statement as something a bit out of the ordinary – a lot of them and all those statements become ordinary.

If you use exclamation marks because they are fun and help you express yourself, I suggest you still use them as you write – and then go back and remove many of them as you edit. This way, you still have the fun of adding them but can moderate it before anyone else reads your writing.

However, if you use exclamation marks to emphasise your points, perhaps you need more faith in the message and how you present it. A strong statement is strong whether or not you add an exclamation mark.

Here are some ideas for changing your writing to reduce the need for exclamation marks:

  • use very short sentences to express important points
  • make the sentence very clear – exclamation marks should enhance the emotion of the sentence rather than provide it
  • put a single sentence as a paragraph for emphasis
  • use bullet points to make a series of points
  • headings and sub-headings are already visually different so they rarely need an exclamation mark
  • use positive words and expression, including adjectives, to show your enthusiasm

Use your words wisely, and you will find less need for exclamation marks!

Email content is factual

Over the weekend I attended the second weekend of a training course. One session was on communications as part of relationships, and the instructor said something that stuck in my mind.

He said “emails are for facts, never emotions”.

So, you can write an email “We will meet at 5 pm” or “Please write me a promotional article on woggles.” And it is ok to write something like “I am upset – can we please talk about it?”

young man on a phone in front of his laptop outside.

Using the phone is often better than email for emotional issues

No emotions in emails?

I had never thought of it quite that way, but it is a good point. What you write can be misinterpreted, especially when emotions are involved, which can cause more problems than you already have. It is also harder to  write clearly when you are feeling emotional so you are more likely to be negative than constructive.

If there is an issue to resolve, it is much better to deal with it face to face or via the phone than in an email. For one thing, tone of voice can impact on the understanding of the message and for another, it is more immediate – there can be delays in replying to each other via emails and that can also add to confusion, misunderstandings and problems.

And don’t think this is just referring to personal relationships. If there is an issue between you and a supplier or customer, grab the phone or arrange a meeting and get the issue resolved.

For a business situation, it isn’t just a matter of smoothing relationships either – it is your business’ reputation and having emotions in writing can be used out of context to your detriment.

So a simple rule to add to your business model – keep emails for facts, not emotions!

Use your words wisely.


*Image courtesy of  Frugo at 123rf