A Newsletter Dedicated to Helping Businesspeople Write Smarter and Faster in Plain Language
Why Should I Learn How to Write Well?
by Kevin Ryan
While teaching college writing courses, I often overheard students talking about writing. One conversation I’ll never forget is the one where two students discussed how they were going into business after they graduated and, therefore, didn’t have to know how to write well. I kid you not. Unfortunately—based on articles by business leaders and others on the receiving end of poorly written communications—that type of thinking is still prevalent. To do my small bit to help reverse such misguided thinking, here are a few quotes on the value of good writing.
“[Writing] helps clarify one’s thinking. It improves all other means of communication by enhancing vocabulary and promoting the ability to formulate thoughts in coherent and creative ways.” (Sidney Harman, Mind Your Own Business)
“The more you write, the more you learn about yourself. Writing about our company, about our mission, and about our users helped us understand them better. It helped us understand our vision.” (Kyle Wiens, “Your Company Is Only as Good as Your Writing”)
“[Here are] some surprising stats about the power of better business writing in taking your career upward. 1. You’ll be considered for the job. 2. You’ll get hired. 3. You’ll get promoted. 4. You’ll be taken more seriously. 5. Your boss wants you to write better. 6. Your company wants you to write better. 7. Your customers want you to write better.” (Faith Watson, “Business Writing and Career Advancement: 10 Surprising Secrets”)
“[Writing] is not merely about communication. More importantly, it’s about thinking in a more disciplined way. When you put words on a sheet of paper, or a computer screen for that matter, you immediately impose your own analysis on what you’ve written. It’s concrete. It matters.” (the Fast Company staff, http://www.fastcompany.com/663378/value-writing)
“Learning and honing business writing skills can have a positive impact on an individual’s career advancement. Effective channels of communication make an organization run smoothly. Professional quality writing being sent through these channels improves productivity and the ability of all functional areas to work together, particularly in an increasingly global workplace where collaboration is the norm.” (Brian Hill, “Importance of Good Business Writing Skills”)
- Americans eat more ice cream in July than any other month of the year.
- No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple.
- Because the Eiffel Tower is made of iron which expands in the heat, it grows more than 6 inches during hot weather months.
- Watermelon is actually a vegetable. This summertime snack comes from the cucumber, squash and pumpkin family.
- Mosquitoes have visual sensors that can detect movement and identify color variations in warm-blooded creatures from up to 100 feet away.
- Popsicles were created by accident in 1905 when an 11-year-old boy named Frank Epperson left a mixture of soda and water out over night. When he awoke the following morning, the stirring stick was frozen solid into the world¹s first ice pop.
- When Barry Bonds joined the San Francisco Giants in 1993, he wore a size 42 uniform and size 10½ shoes. Ten years—and many steroid scandals—later, what were this famous hitter’s uniform and shoe sizes: 44/10½, 46/11, 48/12, 52/13?
(Fun Facts Answer: Scroll to the bottom.)
Word of the Month
esoteric | es-uh-TARE-ik | adjective
1: designed for or understood by a small select group, 2: difficult to understand, 3: private, confidential
“Keith received an esoteric note from Human Resources that, according to his interpretation, implied they were giving him a raise.”
Wacky & Wise Websites
Click here to see the ultra dangerous Caminito del Rey hiking trail constructed on the side of a mountain in Spain.
Click here to see a glass-plank walkway located 1,000-feet up the side of mountain in China; even more surprising: it makes music when you walk on it.
American Express, Amgen, Census Bureau, Cisco Systems, Department of the Navy, Department of Veterans Affairs, Fluor Corporation, General Electric, The New York Public Library, Procter & Gamble, State of Utah, Supreme Court of Virginia, United Way, Food & Drug Administration, U.S. Navy SEALs
Writing Tips & More
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SATisfy Your Curiosity
SAT Exam practice question: Choose the words that best fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole.
“Mark’s pledge to assist with the project left Sondra more _____ than grateful; she _____ the offer but knew that Mark often failed to follow through on his promises.”
- wary : appreciated
- puzzled : suspected
- content : abandoned
- skeptical : resented
- elated : acknowledged
(SAT Answer: Scroll to the bottom.)
The distress call Mayday is an English pronunciation of the French m’aider, which means “help me.” Its use dates back to 1927.
Lunatic comes from the Old French lunatique, from the Latin luna ‘moon’ based on the belief that changes of the moon caused intermittent insanity.
Bayonet, denoting a kind of short dagger, is from the French baïonnette, from Bayonne, the name of a town in southwestern France, where they were first made.
A cup of Joe was named for Secretary of the Navy Josephus “Joe” Daniels who banned “ardent spirits” from the officers’ mess in 1914, making coffee the strongest drink offered aboard ship, which inspired the slang reference to coffee as a cup of Joe.
Answer: wary : appreciated
Fun Facts Answer
Barry Bonds grew from uniform size 42 and shoe size 10 ½ to uniform size 52 and shoe size 13.