Elevating Our Business Language above the Fray, Online and in Person

Call me an idealist. I believe that we should strive to use elevated language in our business dealings to ensure we are clear and effective in our communications. I try not to be dismayed by the lowering of standards in our society, but it’s hard.

Just look at all the trolls on Twitter who have taken over a lot of the political discourse. It seems many are emulating the bullying personas that have become all too prevalent, whether it be teen cyber-bullying, pop culture braggadocio or even mean-spirited tweets by a presidential candidate.

Perhaps you’ve been on the receiving end of a barrage of angry electronic comments in the social media world, even in business. I was recently asked whether steering clear of social media is one way to avoid all this. Sure, but I don’t advocate becoming a digital hermit in a digital world. I do recommend you respond to cyber critics, but in a kindly way and not in kind.

The best advice I ever heard at a writing conference came from an unlikely source: a retired FBI agent. He had been dispensing advice to newspaper reporters on how to deal with unwilling interview subjects. A reporter related a problem he was having with a cantankerous town council member and how this public official would shout down anyone who asked questions, even perfectly legitimate public policy questions. The retired investigator advised, “never shout back at a shouter. He’s been doing it his whole life and will be better at it than you.”

The advice was to instead maintain poise and an even tone. This tone may just aggravate the shouter, he added. The retired investigator then related a story about a time he patiently sat in a witness box while a criminal defense lawyer shouted at him with questions. The lawyer came closer and closer to the witness, all the while shouting. The witness waited for the right moment and then calmly asked if the lawyer would mind taking a few steps back. Why, asked the lawyer, am I intimidating you? No, came the reply, you are getting your spittle on me. The jury cracked up, the investigator said.

Funny, this writing conference was in the 1990s and back then boorish behavior was considered out of the norm, but today it is all too common. Sometimes people may not even realize what they are saying in business might be crossing a line, even inadvertently. I recently ran into a man at a coffee who was saying something that just didn’t sit right with me.

I wondered if he really meant what it sounded like, so I deployed a simple and effective communications mechanism. I asked him if I could summarize what I thought I heard him saying and, once I related what the message seemed to be, he seemed surprised. This gave him a chance to quickly correct what he really meant. It is a lot easier to give people a second chance with feedback than to dismiss them outright. feedback-796143_1280All too often in today’s discourse, people are too harsh, critical and rude. To rise above the fray, stake out that higher ground and stick to it. Use thoughtful language and tone, maintain professionalism and speak on the level at which you want to be addressed.

For more communications consulting, contact Katharine Fraser.

New Year, new style, keeping it real with authentic communications

Ever received a holiday email card from someone you cannot place in your mind or from someone you met once? The message this sends is hey, we decided to create a spreadsheet list of every email address with which our company has ever had any contact and blast out a greeting. Nice, but does this serve any real marketing or communications purpose? I suppose one could argue that this kind of messaging keeps one front of mind in your marketplace.

I would argue it simply looks like spam. Or worse, it really does amount to spam. By contrast, a printed holiday card or even an email sent to select customers or clients carries more significance, especially if you add a message tailored to the specific interactions the recipients have had in the past year with your company.

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The end of the year is a good time to position your business with clients and prospects as the go-to buy in the coming year. Select particular people to reach out to with a quick note, thanking them for their business this year and expressing interest in building that relationship in the New Year. This exercise will also bring focus on an internal basis to your action plan for the next quarter and year. Moreover, the recipients of such email will clearly see this message is expressly for them and not a message in a bottle cast out upon the email beach.

Giving pause to reflect on who is most important for maintaining contact and who is most important for reaching as prospects should be a regular practice, not just an end of year routine. The best gift you can give your customers is the knowledge you truly care about how you connect with them and that is conveyed with customized communications.

Adroit Narratives

How to Tell Your Business Story with a Blog

katharine fraser

My business blog about digital communications showcases my guiding principles for how to improve communications in daily practice, whether in your own blogs or newsletters, on the About Us page of your business website, and in other venues for the written word and speech.

My blogs provide free tips and insights as well as further samples of my writing style. Here you will find #DigitalDo advice as well as #DigitalDon’ts.

The consistent theme is that your should integrate all of your digital marketing so there is a cohesive brand throughout newsletters, blogs, websites and social media. Moreover, these must connect to each other to maximize your opportunities and exposure with customers/clients and prospects.

Not finding what you want? Reach out directly through the Contact Us page to schedule a consultation. Adroit Narratives offers content creation for a variety of formats, such as speech writing, presentations, white papers, blogs, advertorials and news-style stories.

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