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May 2015 Volume 11 Issue 5

The Write Stuff

May 2015  Volume 11 Issue 5

Silence: Not Always Golden

Rather than providing a writing tip in this space, I’ve chosen to offer a communications tip this month. Take at a look at the list below and see if you’ve experienced any of these e-mail miscues, either as the sender or receiver:

  • You reach out to someone you know via e-mail, asking for a referral to a service provider. That person responds with a name—but you fail to hit reply to say thank you.
  • You hire someone to produce a deliverable that’s provided via e-mail, but you fail to acknowledge its receipt—so the sender must assume you got it (or take the time to follow up with another e-mail or a phone call).
  • You receive an e-mail that includes a question, but you fail to respond with an answer.
  • You create a detailed proposal, send it via e-mail and eagerly anticipate a response, but the potential client fails to acknowledge receipt and/or respond with a decision.
  • You invite people to an event via e-mail—business or personal—and most of them fail to respond, leaving you at a loss with regard to head count.

Sound familiar? While e-mail provides a vehicle for quick communication, the way many people handle it is less than thoughtful and often downright rude. It’s pretty common to have an e-mail inbox that’s overflowing, but that’s no excuse for the bad behaviors noted above.

It doesn’t take much effort to hit reply to thank someone, let vendors know you received their work, answer a question, let potential vendors know you have their proposal (and provide a yea or nay) or RSVP to an event. We all can play a significant role in practicing what I call “e-mail civility.” Why not start today?

Phase or Faze?

It can be tricky to figure out how to use this pair of homonyms—but their definitions greatly differ. Phase is most often used as a noun to mean a stage of development or pattern of behavior. Faze, on the other hand, is always a verb meaning to fluster. Thus, the following sentence is correct: The first phase of the project is really fazing the participants.

Thank you to my faithful reader and fellow lover of words, Elizabeth Baker, for suggesting this newsletter topic. I’m always open to content suggestions.

Affect or Impact?

Many writers confuse affect and effect, although the distinction is quite simple: affect is a verb, while effect is a noun. The use of impact, which can be a noun and a verb, is less cut and dried. In most cases, when used as a verb, impact and affect are interchangeable—or are they? A former boss told me years ago that it’s best to use affect unless you’re referring to striking something (which is the top definition of impact), and thus I always do that, i.e., the affect of the decision or the impact of the car crash.

Note that impact as a verb appears on the banished bizspeak list in Wordplay.

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