Precision can help brighten the days ahead

  • Article by: STEPHEN WILBERS , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 14, 2010 - 2:19 PM

Because we're just a snowball's throw from the Arctic Circle here in Minnesota, the increase in daylight this time of year is dramatic. Almost day by day, the sun feels warmer as it climbs higher and higher in the bright blue sky. As the days grow longer, I'm also noticing more and more signs of economic recovery.

Companies and organizations forced to drastically reduce expenditures and go into survival mode are once again beginning to invest in the training and professional development of their staff members. As the economy makes a comeback, they know effective communication is key to their recovery and long-term success.

They also know that their credibility is their most valuable commodity. They realize that every external communication sent by any employee at any time can bolster or damage their hard-earned reputation.

The days of nearly every manager having a competent secretary to make him or her (but mostly him) look good are long gone. As a result, some companies and organizations will allow nothing to go out to an external audience from any computer or hand-held device unless it accomplishes the four objectives of all customer relations correspondence. It must

•Be clear.

•Create goodwill.

•Affirm relationship.

•Uphold professional standards.

No matter how knowledgeable, an engineer who sends a message studded with errors in grammar, punctuation and word choice will not inspire confidence. A district manager who writes "suppose to" rather than "supposed to" does not exude competence.

How would you react if you found the following message in your inbox?

"Pursuant to your request, enclosed please find a proposal that explains our companies history and mission statement, etc. We're looking to help you archive your goalies. Should you wish any additional information, please do not hesitate to apprise me at your earliest possible convenience."

On a scale of 1 to 4, what would you give it? A zero?

Errors and shortcomings include a misspelled possessive form that also is missing an apostrophe (companies for company's), an odd mixture of both impersonal and colloquial style, misplaced emphasis, a proofreading/spell-check lapse (archive your goalies for achieve your goals) and wordiness.

Compare this version: "Thank you for your interest in Super Tri-Plex Longjohns. The enclosed proposal demonstrates our commitment to helping you achieve your goal of becoming 'the North Woods store that keeps you toasty where it matters.' I'll call you tomorrow to see if you have any questions."

A year ago we came perilously close to total economic collapse. Since October the consumer confidence index has been on the rise.

With communication that is precise, professional and personal, the future should be bright.

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