Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Text Me Your Best Offer!

Even multimillion-dollar real estate deals are settled by e-mails and text messages these days, according to “The E-Mail Handshake” by Vivian S. Toy (The New York Times, Real Estate, page 1, April 26, 2009). While not all real estate agents, homebuyers, and sellers may agree on the virtues of e-mail negotiation, trying to stop the trend is like using an umbrella to block a tsunami. So the best we can do is to review the benefits and drawbacks of e-mail negotiation, and to counter the negatives without diminishing the positives.

In summary, the article says the plusses include the permanency of recording “conversations” and the convenience of informing everyone simultaneously. On the minus side are the difficulty in communicating nuance and emotion as well as the confusion that can result from missing, incomplete, or ambiguous information.

To resolve potential conflicts, pick up the phone or have a face-to-face meeting with the parties involved—even though another e-mail is sure to follow.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dear? Hi? Hello? Greetings? Good morning? Ugh! Sincerely? Regards? Best wishes? All the best? Cheers? OMG!

Everybody wants to get it right. Right? How do you open and close an e-mail? Would any of the ones above work all the time? Since I hear that question more than once a week, I know that people really want a definitive response to their question about the perfect salutation and complimentary closing. Their problems are compounded when they have multiple readers: Should they write “All? Team? Good day? To the Acting Members of the Stanislaus Sangerhausen Boulevard Flowering Pear Tree Lining Ad Hoc Committee?”

Fuggedaboutit. Here’s how I generally answer this question when it pops up: Address people in an e-mail the way you would if you were addressing them as they stand before you and as the occasion dictates. If you tend to say, “Hi Folks,” then write that; if you just start with your message without a greeting, then do that. Whatever—just make sure that the corporate culture calls for your chosen approach. You can also look around to see what others whose communication style you respect are doing, and then follow suit.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ted.com: Endless Educational and Entertainment Opportunities

Do you want to enjoy yourself and learn something or find inspiration while you’re at it? Check out any of the amazing 200 talks on a stunning range of topics on TED.com (Technology, Entertainment, Design: www.ted.com). Here are just a few examples:

  • Artist Miru Kim’s discussion about her photographic work of urban industrial ruins throughout the world
  • An exploration into the creative process by Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club
  • An examination of our unrealized potential to love classical music by renowned conductor and educator Benjamin Zander
  • Social psychologist Philip Zimbardo’s talk about the causes that incite human beings to commit evil acts

Many thanks to my dear friend, Dr. Bob DiCuio, Founder of Wall Street Psych Consulting, for bringing this great resource to my attention.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Hold Those Hyphens

A participant in one of my workshops, D. Hom, asked a question about hyphenating expressions such as “end of year.”

Determining what to hyphenate depends on whether the adjectives appear before or after the noun. If the sentence reads, “These are the end-of-year returns,” then the hyphens are necessary; if the sentence reads, “These are the returns for the end of year,” then the hyphens are unnecessary.

As the saying goes, “Punctuation is to writing as intonation is to speaking”; therefore, read your sentences aloud and you will hear yourself squeezing together the words requiring hyphenation. Do you hear the difference in the hyphenated and non-hyphenated italicized words below?

I work full time.
I am a full-time employee.

She has had a tenure of ups and downs.
She has had an up-and-down tenure.

The election was an opportunity that came to President Obama once in a lifetime. The election was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for President Obama.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

E-mail Webcast a Hit

Yesterday my webinar for the American Management Association (AMA) went exactly according to plan. How to Write a Darn Good E-mail generated abundant, spirited participation from attendees across the country as I fielded challenging questions that clarified the key teaching points, which included getting to the point, structuring messages clearly, and coming across professionally.

The 90-minute midday session featured two case studies, one from a manager to a subordinate and another from a salesperson to a potential client. These situations served as springboards for discussions about e-mail best practices. The program went well with the help of Richard Bradley, AMA portfolio manager and host; David Summers, webcast producer; and Kevin Lee, director.

You can get plenty of free webcasts on a whole host of business issues at the AMA website: http://www.amanet.org/events.