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Business Communications - Module 7 notes

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BUSI 1020U
William Thurber

Module 7: Communicating with Positive Emphasis Business Communications February 5 2012 What’s the point of Positive Emphasis? - Positive emphasis is part of creating goodwill. - A positive environment is essential to recruit, retain and motivate employees. - People who choose to communicate positively tend to live longer and more healthy. - Positive emphasis is characteristic of successful entrepreneurs since they perceive opportunities and are undaunted by failure. What should I do if my message is bad news? - Deliver the news responsibly: be clear and sensitive. - Straightforward negatives build credibility when you have bad news to give the reader, such as announcements of layoffs, product defects and recalls, or price increases. - Being honest about the drawbacks of a job situation increases motivation, morale, and the likelihood that employees will stay. - In some messages such as negative performance appraisals, your purpose Is to deliver a rebuke with no alternative. In these situations, you are legally responsible for ensuring that your language conforms to organizational and governmental regulations. Negative words and Words with Negative Connotations Negative words Some dis-Words Some mis-Words afraid fail objection disapprove misfortune anxious fault problem dishonest missing avoid fear reject dissatisfied mistake bad hesitate reluctant careless ignorant sorry Many in-Words Many un-Words damage ignore terrible inadequate unclear delay impossible trivial incomplete unfair delinquent lacking trouble inconvenient unfortunate deny loss wait injury unfortunately difficulty neglect weakness insincere unpleasant eliminate never worry unreasonable error no wrong unreliable except not unsure The following examples show how to replace negative words with positive words. Negative: We have failed to finish taking inventory. Better: We haven't finished taking inventory. Still better: We will be finished taking inventory Friday. Negative: If you can't understand this explanation, feel free to call me. Better: If you have further questions, please call me. Still better: (Omit the sentence.) If a sentence has two negatives, substitute one positive term. Negative: Do not forget to back up your disks. Better: Always back up your disks. When you must use a negative term, use the least negative word that is accurate. Negative: Your balance of $835 is delinquent. Better: Your balance of $835 is past due. - Hidden negatives  words that are not negative in themselves but become negative in context.  “but” and “however” indicate a shift, so after a positive statement they are negative.  “I hope” and “I trust that” suggest you aren’t sure.  “Patience” may sound like a virtue, but it is a necessary virtue only when things are slow.  Negative: I hope this is the information you wanted. [Implication: I'm not sure.]  Better: Enclosed is a brochure about road repairs scheduled for 2009–10.  Still better: The brochure contains a list of all roads and bridges scheduled for repair during 2009–10. Call Gwen Wong at 604-555-3245 for specific dates when work will start and stop, and for alternative routes. Page 124  Negative: Please be patient as we switch to the automated system. [Implication: You can expect problems.]  Better: If you have questions during our transition to the automated system, call Melissa Morgan.  Still better: You'll be able to get information instantly about any house on the market when the automated system is in place. If you have questions during the transition, call Melissa Morgan.  Negative: Now Crispy Krisp tastes better. [Implication: It used to taste terrible.]  Better: Now Crispy Krisp tastes even better. Removing negatives does not mean being arrogant or pushy.  Negative: I hope that you are satisfied enough to place future orders.  Arrogant: I look forward to receiving all of your future business.  Better: Call Mercury whenever you need transistors. When you eliminate negative words, be sure to maintain accuracy. Words that are exact opposites will usually not be accurate. Instead, use specifics to be both positive and accurate.  Negative: The exercycle is not guaranteed for life.  Not true: The exercycle is guaranteed for life.  True: The exercycle is guaranteed for 10 years.  Negative: Customers under 25 are not eligible for the Prime Time discount.  Not true: You must be over 25 to be eligible for the Prime Time discount.  True: If you're 25 or older, you can save 10 percent on all your purchases with RightWay's Prime Time discount. Legal phrases also have negative connotations for most readers and should be avoided whenever possible. The idea will sound more positive if you use everyday English.  Negative: If your account is still delinquent, a second, legal notice will be sent to you informing you that cancellation of your policy will occur 30 days after the date of the legal notice if we do not receive your cheque.  Better: Even if your cheque is lost in the mail and never reaches us, you still have a 30-day grace period. If you do get a second notice, you will know that your payment hasn't reached us. To keep your account in good standing, stop payment on the first cheque and send a second one. How Do I Create Positive Emphasis? - Deemphasizing or omit negative words and information - The following five techniques deemphasize negative information: 1. Avoid negative words and words with negative connotations. 2. Focus on what the reader can do rather than on limitations. 3. Justify negative information by giving a reason or linking it to a reader benefit. 4. Omit the negative if it is unimportant. 5. Put the negative information in the middle and present it compactly. Focus on what the reader can do rather than on Limitations - Sometimes, positive emphasis is a matter of the way you present something. - Sometimes, it’s a matter of eliminating double negatives. o Negative: We will not allow you to charge more than $1500 on your VISA o Better: You can charge $1500 on your new VISA. o Or: Your new VISA gives you $1500 in credit that you can use at thousands of stores nationwide. - When you have a benefit, and a requirement, the reader must meet to get the benefit, the sentence is usually more positive if you put the benefit first.
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