Tag Archives: teaching business communication

COVID Alters E-Mail Language

As the pandemic continues, people in the business world have adjusted the way they correspond in a way that acknowledges the collective angst associated with COVID-19. Gone are exclamation points to indicate enthusiasm and emojis to show light-heartedness. In their place are heartfelt words that reflect the danger and upheaval the pandemic has wrought all over the world.

Public relations experts such as Benjamin Schmerler in New York say that any communication today should at least acknowledge the “collective vulnerability that people feel.” He adds that because so many employees are working from home, the ability to communicate casually in the office isn’t possible, so written communications such as e-mail, texts, instant messaging, and even Slack messages should include a personal touch.

Gretchen McCulloch, the author of Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language,explains that COVID-19 has created a shared reality that workplace communication reflects. Likewise, Prof. Naomi Baron says that people are more deliberate when they write, which leads to text that divulges more personal and truthful remarks. This phenomenon is exacerbated by the fact that many people are not working at the office, so sharing personal touches—such as a blooming backyard garden—has become gracious rather than extraneous.

This in no way means the writer should wax eloquent or be verbose, says Brian Metcalf, the founder of a digital marketing agency. He tells employees to remove jargon and to message concisely—no one wants to wade through lengthy messages. This fundamental principle of business communication remains in effect today.

One element all the experts agree upon is to omit blatant enthusiasm. Grinning emojis should be replaced with a thumbs-up to acknowledge receipt of a message. Carefree smiley faces and cat pictures show a level of tone-deafness unacceptable in the current situation.

The bottom line is to show sensitivity without oversharing the personal. At the same time, to pretend that it’s life and business as usual can make the recipient of a message feel disrespected.


  1. Why do experts suggest it’s important to mention health and wellness in professional messages today?
  2. What are some softening phrases you might use at the beginning of an e-mail or text message that are not clichéd?
  3. Which emojis should you avoid in professional communication, and why?

From The Wall Street Journal


Be Yourself During Interviews… Coronavirus Changes Digital Etiquette… Isolation Can Be Good for Problem Solving

Be Yourself During Interviews

Many job seekers enter an interview planning to deliver what they assume the interviewer wants to hear. However, research shows this strategy often backfires and that instead, interviewees should simply be themselves.

Research has found that attempting to cater to an interviewer’s expectations is a flawed tactic primarily because no one can be certain about another’s preferences. In addition, trying to hide one’s own opinions and ideas is draining and leads to a diminished performance during the interview.

The researchers of a recent survey examined 379 working adults and asked them to prepare a video interview talking about themselves and a proposed job. Participants were divided into three groups: catering, authenticity, and control. Those showing authenticity—voicing their own opinions and preferences despite the potential unpopularity of those ideas—were more likely to land the job than job seekers in the other groups.

Shakespeare may have been onto something when he wrote “To thine own self be true.”

 From The Wall Street Journal

Coronavirus Changes Digital Etiquette

The pandemic has made reliance on digital communication the norm, and consequently, the rules of good online etiquette have become more critical than ever.

These tips will make communicating online more effective in meetings or conversations that take place over platforms from Zoom to Google Hangouts.

  • Avoid multi-tasking while in a work meeting.
  • Make eye contact as much as possible during video calls.
  • Appoint a call leader to keep the meeting on task.
  • Keep the microphone muted until you want to speak. Then raise your hand and wait to be recognized. Remember to turn on the microphone when you do
  • Create less formal get-togethers with colleagues outside of meetings. Doing so helps attendees to focus on the meeting agenda instead of catching up with one another, thus improving productivity.
  • Realize co-workers have other demands in their lives that affect their ability to respond to text messages or e-mails quickly.

The bottom line is that kindness is key, the article notes.

From The New York Times

Isolation Can Be Good for Problem Solving

The benefits of collaboration are many, from brainstorming to gaining insights from multiple perspectives. But working alone is also important, especially for problem solving.

New research suggests that constant communication among team members can reduce “collective intelligence,” or a team’s ability to solve problems together. Instead, short bursts of collaboration and longer intervals of solo thinking time seem to garner the best work from both high-and low-performers.

The researchers found that teams practicing continuous interaction did not allow top-performing individuals to maximize their creativity. In teams whose members worked in complete isolation, lower performers did not receive the benefit of others’ input and solutions, thereby pulling down the team’s effectiveness. The sweet spot that netted the best team output practiced intermittent communication—a combination of touching base while still allowing individuals time for solo contemplation.

This working style of implementing short but intense group sessions leaves members enthusiastic, able to hear one another’s ideas, and coordinate activity moving forward, all attributes of successful teamwork, the research found.

From BBC Worklife


10 Interview Blunders to Avoid

Hiring managers advise job seekers to avoid the following slip-ups when interviewing.

  1. Treating receptionist or other lower-level staff poorly. Consider the moments before meeting with the hiring staff as a pre-interview. Many hiring managers consult with staff about your behavior before and after the interview.
  1. Arriving poorly groomed. Make sure you look squeaky clean from head to toe. Go easy on the perfume and neatly manicure your nails.shutterstock_12264709_March2016
  1. Choosing inappropriate attire. Dress for success. Knowing what to wear shows you understand workplace expectations.
  1. Delivering long, rambling answers. Employers want to see that you are articulate. Practice answers before an interview so you can give concise responses.
  1. Lacking authenticity. While everyone understands an interviewee needs to be upbeat, hiring managers want to see the real you. Do not be slick or sound hackneyed.
  1. Underselling accomplishments. First-time job seekers often undersell their strength as a candidate. Be ready to talk about how you will make a contribution to the organization.
  1. Failing to give credit to collaborators. Show the hiring manager how you contributed to a team project by explaining your role without taking too much credit from other team members.
  1. Demonstrating poor understanding of the organization. Once you’ve landed an interview, the organization will expect you to have performed research about it and its products. Not doing so is the consummate no-no.
  1. Lacking energy. Body language such as slumping in the chair or a monotone voice translates to disinterest. Make sure you make eye contact and are actively engaged.
  1. Failing to ask relevant questions. Prepare questions that illustrate your understanding of the job and the industry so you appear interested. If you do not, the hiring manager could easily interpret it as a lack of interest in the position.

Discussion Questions

  • Why is it important to be respectful and kind to staff of any level?
  • What are ways you can “be authentic” without appearing overeager or giving yourself too much credit for work you collaborated on?
  • What kinds of specific questions could you prepare that would illustrate your interest in a given industry?