A Common Grammar Gaffe: Don't Let This Undermine You

Grammar! The word itself makes some people’s eyes glaze over. Shades of elementary school make eyelids droop. But think about it: When you receive an email or document that contains grammar and punctuation errors, how does it affect your opinion of the sender? When I ask this question in the Worktalk writing trainings, people use words like, “incompetent, unprofessional, uneducated, careless…” The list goes on and on. When we disregard basic grammar, we risk undermining the good impression we have worked so hard to build.One grammar error that has cropped up in recent writing trainings is a lack of singular-plural agreement. Wait — don’t go to sleep yet. Disregarding this point can make you look ignorant. So take a look.

What is wrong with these sentences?

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Perils of Tiny Typing: Typos

I received an email recently that contained the signature line: “Expect typos.”

Why should I expect typos? I expect people to avoid them, especially in business correspondence.

Cell phones breed typos. Granted, when one is typing with thumbs on a tiny screen, errors are more likely to creep in. But this does not mean that we should simply give up without a murmur and say, “Oh, well, my writing will be full of typos and my readers will just have to deal with it.”

Cell phones have had many effects on our communication, including these: They have blurred the boundary between business and personal communications and they have made us less sensitive to typographical errors.
In personal, informal cell phone dialogues, readers usually overlook  errors, as long as the meaning is comprehensible. The question is, however, whether any important messages or emails should be sent from a phone when you are too rushed to correct mistakes.

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Addressing Emails: To, CC, BCC, and the Dreaded Reply All

To, CC, BCC, and the Dreaded Reply All           

Every email needs an addressee, and every time you address an email, you make significant choices. First, are you going to be careful as you hover your mouse over the To line and make sure that you are sending the email to your intended recipient, and not to some hapless soul who shares the same initials?

That’s the first addressing error, and it has led attorneys to send their strategies to opposing counsel,  snarky authors to send their nasties to the people they are trashing, and employers to send comments  that end up as evidence in wrongful termination lawsuits. At the least, it has led to some very embarrassing moments. So the first rule of addressing emails is:
·         Make sure you are sending your email ONLY to the person you intend it to reach.

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Using Performatives in Business Writing: Words that Act

I’m sorry.It’s okay.
We need the paperwork by Friday.
The holding tank might explode.
I think that restructuring is a good idea.

What do these statements have in common? They are weather reports, informing the reader of feelings, needs, situations, and thoughts. Whether stated explicitly or not, their purpose is to inform. If all you are doing is reporting the weather, informing is fine.

But if you want people to think, feel, or act differently, simply informing is weak.

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  • About Elizabeth
  • The Book
  • Success Story
image Elizabeth Danziger

Succeed by writing clearly

Elizabeth Danziger, founder of Worktalk Communications Consulting, enables people to achieve success through better writing. Improved writing means greater productivity, better customer service, quicker adoption of internal initiatives, fewer misunderstandings, faster completion of key work, and enhanced relationships.

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Get to the Point by Elizabeth Danziger

Succeed by writing clearly

Cut your writing time in half by using the simple, time-tested techniques of Get to the Point! You'll accomplish more and your readers will understand your ideas the first time they read them. You will save time and advance your career by getting to the point … no more follow-up phone calls and memos because people didn't understand what you wrote. No more doubts about the quality of your writing.

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A mid-sized publicly traded corporation was having a problem.

A senior executive was an excellent writer and editor; he found it necessary to intensively revise every key document that went out. His time-consuming edits were creating a bottleneck, in addition to generating resentment from the people who were doing the writing. The CEO finally intervened and told the executive to cut back on his editing or face the consequences.

Elizabeth Danziger was brought in.

She analyzed dozens of documents and emails so that she could see the patterns of writing errors and the situations to which the executive was responding. She met with all the main players and coached them about the process of editing and being edited. She was then hired to edit key documents before they were sent to the senior executive. She led several customized writing trainings for the staff members who were writing key documents.

The result?

The senior executive told the head of human resources that he no longer felt the need to edit as he had in the past. The editing job is handled. The first drafts of the staff members were substantially better than they had been before. Less conflict, less stress, and a better final product. Worktalk’s consulting, coaching, editing, and training expertise transformed a painful situation into a productive one.

Why choose WorkTalk trainings?

  • Taught by a professional writer. +

    These courses are not taught by a general skills trainer who happens to teach writing. Elizabeth Danziger has been published by major publishing houses such as Random House and Harcourt Brace. Her work has appeared in many national magazines. She is an expert writer and editor who brings her knowledge as a resource to participants.
  • Customized. +

    Every Worktalk training is customized to the client's needs and values. Ms. Danziger consults with the client, determining what kinds of issues are most important to management. She then structures the program to meet the organization's needs.
    In addition, Danziger requests writing samples from the organization and from individual participants. These examples are used in exercises and training examples, with names and identifying information removed. This enables people to see "real" work and learn how to improve.
    The email training reflects the client's culture. Danziger sends out a survey for managers asking them which email topics are most relevant to their organization. She structures the presentation according to what is most important to the executive team.
  • Energetic and entertaining. +

    With plenty of exercises and opportunities for interaction, the Worktalk trainings move quickly. Subjects that were terrifying in grammar school become fun and interesting in these outstanding programs.
  • Proven results. +

    In trainings all over the country, Ms. Danziger has enabled participants to streamline their organizing process, eliminate persistent errors, and drastically cut their revision time. Clients spend less time on key communications while producing better relationships and results. Sales people get more positive responses from prospects.
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