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29.11.2020
Barbara Pachter
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If customers include a closing in their emails, it indicates to me that they are friendly, and so I will do their work first. 

A woman in one of my writing classes made the above comment when we were discussing how to end an email. Others joined in and added that they liked seeing closings in emails they received. I agree.  Emails that simply end without some kind of closing can seem too abrupt. And in today’s coronavirus world, it is especially important to seem approachable. During my recent Zoom classes, numerous questions surface about which closing is appropriate in our casual workplace. Deciding what to use can be confusing. When email first appeared in the workplace, salutations or closings were rarely used. Over time, we have added both to our emails. Though there has been some discussion in the media about whether we need to use closings, in my experience, the majority of people want to keep them. I encourage businesspeople to use closings. Here are my six suggestions: 1. If you start with a salutation, end with a closing. It provides balance to the email. The correct punctuation after the closing is a comma. 2. Match the closing to the salutation. If you use an informal salutation, such as “Hi Amanda” or “Hello Gavin,” use “Regards,” “Best,” “Best regards,” or “Thanks” to close. If you use a more formal salutation, such as “Dear Ms. Jones,” use “Sincerely” or “Sincerely yours.” Only the first word of the closing is capitalized. 3. End with a “closing statement.” Since closings are more relaxed in emails than in letters, you can use a brief statement as your closing, such as “See you at the meeting,” “Thanks for your help” or “Have a great weekend.” 4. With no disrespect intended, avoid using ‘Respectfully.’  This very formal closing is usually reserved for government officials and clergy.  Another closing to avoid is “Faithfully yours.” This wording comes from British English, and a woman from India who was in my class said that she was advised very quickly by her boss not to use that closing in the U.S.   5. Tell people what you want to be called. After the closing, on the next line, type your name the way you want to be addressed. If you want to be called “Mike” instead of “Michael,” you should sign “Mike.”  6. Once emails become a back-and-forth conversation, you can drop the closing. It begins to sound repetitious and somewhat silly if you have a long string of emails all proclaiming, “Best regards, Mike.” Additional information on emails can be found in my book The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat and Tweet Your Way to Success. Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on business writing, professional presence, etiquette and communication. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at joyce@pachter.com (www.pachter.com)
22.10.2020
Barbara Pachter
No comments

My coworker hates her job. She keeps complaining to me. I have tried to talk to her about what she could do, but she is not listening. She is worried about finding a new position during the coronavirus pandemic.  

My husband keeps threatening to quit his job. He only comments negatively about his job and the people who work with him. I wish he would just do something.My friend was having difficulty with her schedule, but she didn’t go to her boss to discuss alternatives. She just quit. When I had a problem, my boss adjusted my schedule. My friend’s might have been adjusted, too, if she had said something.As these comments from participants in my seminars indicate, tackling problems that affect our work lives can be difficult. When some people become dissatisfied with their work, they do nothing. Perhaps they don’t know how to proceed, or maybe they don’t believe there is anything they can do to improve the situation. Usually, the only action they take is to whine about their bosses, their colleagues, or the work. Unfortunately, complaining doesn’t accomplish anything – except having your friends, colleagues and others stay clear of you.Some, on the other hand, get so frustrated that they impulsively quit their jobs without having another lined up, or without even a plan for the future. Both reactions can affect your career negatively. However, there is an alternative that can help people evaluate their work situations. Answering the following four questions encourages people to take action and decide their next steps. 1. Ask yourself, what is the real issue? It is easy to say, “I hate my job,” but it is important to identify why. What is the real issue that is causing you to be unhappy? Be honest and be specific. Is it the type of work you do, or just one aspect of the job? Is it the commute, the money, your boss, the people you work with, or any number of other causes? One man I coached liked most of the facets of his job, but wanted to quit because he had to make frequent presentations. Another realized that her new position involved using unfamiliar technology, which made her feel uncomfortable and unqualified.  2. Can you solve the problem? Now that you have identified the issue, is there something that can be done? Is there a realistic solution? If so, what do you have to lose by asking for it? Make the case for your suggestion, including any benefits to your department or to the company. Remember that if you don’t speak up, chances are nothing will change. 3. Are there advantages to this job? If you can’t solve the problem, think about what you are gaining from the position.  Don’t just quickly say, “Nothing.” Here are four possible things to consider: --Is the job a stepping stone?  Will you need the skills you gain from this position to qualify for a job on the next rung of the ladder? One of my early jobs involved working for a horrible boss. Yet I stayed until I had gained the experience I needed, and then I left.   --Is there any education or training perk to which you have access? Some companies will fund part or all of your ongoing education. This can be a major benefit for many people. --Who are you meeting? Does the job allow you to interact with people and build your network? If so, it is possible that by having a strong network, additional job opportunities will come your way. --Can you learn to manage your boss? Learning to work with difficult people is an important skill that almost certainly will be beneficial to you at some point in your career.4. Is it time to start a job search? Depending on how you answer the above questions, you may decide that it is time to start looking for a new position. (Specific suggestions for looking for work during the pandemic can be found in my blog, Looking for a job? 10 tips to help you succeed in a coronavirus world). You may even decide to change careers. Any number of alternatives may now be available to you. This doesn’t mean you just quit your job. Generally, it is best to look for a new job (or career) while you are still working at the old one. Information on conducting a thorough job search can be found in my book The Communication Clinic: 99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes.   Whether you decide to stay at your current job or to look for a new one, feel good about your choice. You are doing something: You have taken charge of your career. I post regularly on communication and etiquette. We can connect via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or my website:pachter.com  About: Barbara Pachter is an internationally-renowned business etiquette and communications speaker, coach and author of 11 business books. She helps individuals communicate more effectively and enhance their professional presence.  (bpachter@pachter.com)  
01.10.2020
Barbara Pachter
No comments

   

My coworkers post such vile things on their Facebook pages. I want to tell them that they’re all idiots.

I want to work out; I don’t want to argue with my trainer about the election. If she doesn’t stop talking about her candidate, I will go elsewhere.

I don’t want to discuss politics at work. Yet, my colleagues say nasty things about the candidates and often end up yelling at each other. What do I do?

 

The recent outbreaks of uncivil behavior in the political arena have impacted our everyday experiences, as the comments above testify. But it's time for people to fight back – politely, of course – and assert that being uncivil to one another is not the way we want public figures to behave. Nor is it the way we should behave.

Bear in mind:

-- You don’t have to mirror the impolite actions of others.

  

-- You can be “polite and powerful” and express yourself without resorting to bad behavior.

 

Use these tips to encourage polite behavior in your workplace and in your wider world. (These apply to your social media postings, also.)

 

1. Don’t attack back. Remember that someone else’s bad behavior is no excuse for your own. I know this may be a hard concept to accept, and even harder to implement – but it is worth practicing. If somebody says something to offend you, it may feel good to respond with a comment like, “Well, what do you know, you idiot?” But this type of response is not going to build your credibility or accomplish anything. Plus, it gives the other person power over you, by getting you to say things that most people will regret later. 

2. Disagree agreeably. If you have difficulty with someone, talk to the person. Listen to what he or she has to say. You can evaluate an idea without attacking the person who is promoting it. Explain your reasons. Provide the specific information, quotes and/or research. You can say, “I see it differently, and here’s why…” which is a lot more productive than screaming at people or calling them names. Or, you can say, “Let’s agree to disagree and move on,” or “I am not discussing politics at work. Let’s get back to the topic at hand.” 

3. Avoid inflammatory words. Using harsh words such as “stupid,” “ignorant,” and “dumb” only inflames a situation, and this approach is unlikely to lead to a positive resolution. Name calling is just wrong – and childish. Cursing at people is not only mean, it also reflects poorly on the one doing the cursing. (Additional information on word choice and how to respond assertively to aggressive comments can be found in my book, The Communication Clinic: 99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes.)

4. Remember that it’s hard to be nasty to people who are nice to you.  This includes meetings in person or via Zoom. Keep “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” in your vocabulary. Greet others when you see them. Don’t interrupt people. Help them when you can. These behaviors are common sense, but unfortunately they’re not always common practice.

 

5. Do something. If you really don’t like something, take action. Don’t complain to others, get involved. Join organizations. Volunteer for causes you support. Start a blog where you assertively (politely and powerfully) express your opinions – but make sure you follow your company guidelines, if you do.  6. Walk away.  And if you don’t want to do any of the above, you can always avoid hostile or impolite discussions by removing yourself from the conversation or taking a break from social media.

 

Pachter & Associates provides training and coaching on business etiquette and communication skills. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at joyce@pachter.com.    

 

 

 

The world is falling apart, so why bother looking? I was just laid off. I’m too shocked to do anything. Why look for a new job? There is nothing but the virus out there. If you have avoided looking for work during the coronavirus pandemic, you are not alone. As the comments above -- culled from my coaching sessions -- illustrate, many people have not started their job search, or are approaching it in a half-hearted way. I understand. The pandemic has really shaken the business world as millions of jobs have been lost. It is a difficult time to look for work, and it’s easy to think, “Why bother?” But there are openings. Some businesses are hiring. Earlier this month, LinkedIn stated that more than 180,000 people had recently been hired through its connections, and in May the United States added 2.5 million jobs.  Do not give up. Job seekers who are persistent and determined are more likely to succeed.  Here are 10 suggestions to help you in your search: 1. Update your resume and social-media sites. This should be among the first things you  do. Your resume may not be current, as you weren’t planning to be unemployed. Add any new jobs, promotions, activities, awards, or additional studies. There are lots of online resources that may help. Google “resume writing” and you will find numerous examples of ways to structure your information. Or hire a professional resume writer. You may need to create more than one resume, depending on the types of jobs you are seeking. 2. View your search as a full-time job. Since you are unemployed, you need to use the time you would have spent at your old job looking for a new one. Yes, I do mean 9 to 5!  Of course, you can be kind to yourself and take a longer lunch break and a day off occasionally. But the bottom line is this: At the end of the day, you want to feel that you worked.  (If you are taking odd jobs to help make ends meet, your day gets even more complicated.) 3. Have a quiet, dedicated work space. This is the place where you keep your job-search materials, and do your searching. If you have young children at home because of the pandemic, this may be harder to achieve. Get creative. One man I know took over half of the dining room table.   4. Create a daily work schedule. List the activities you need to do. This makes it more likely you will actually do them. Some of these activities include:        --Checking online job sites, such as indeed.com or simplyhired.com --Checking the websites of companies you want to work for – many companies list job openings   --Spending time on LinkedIn, applying for jobs, and connecting with your network --Reading articles on the web about conducting a job search  --Taking an online class to enhance your skills --Allowing time to exercise! Yes, build that into your schedule, too 5. Respond to openings quickly. You don’t want your application to get lost in the shuffle. Many people may apply, and you want your resume to be one of the first to arrive. This makes it much more likely to be reviewed.   6. Stay in touch with your colleagues and network. Let people know you are looking. More people get jobs through networking than any other way. Your friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and friends of friends can’t help you unless they know you’re looking.  7. Participate in your professional associations. Though you may not be able to network in person, you can still interact with other professionals online through virtual training, conferences, and networking events. For example, my son’s professional association recently held a “Cocktails, Conversation, & Connections” Zoom meeting.  8. Be prepared to interview via video conferencing. In addition to preparing answers to questions you think you may be asked, you need to prepare to present yourself professionally online. Know how to use the technology. Practice. Position yourself in front of a neat, uncluttered, and quiet setting. Be aware of what others will see behind you. Make sure there are no controversial objects in bookshelves or on the wall. Dress appropriately – as though you were being interviewed in person. Your location needs good lighting. You want to be seen clearly, without any shadows hiding your appearance.  9. Use your college career center.  Though most centers have suspended in-person meetings, they still provide many resources, including reviewing resumes, holding virtual workshops, and posting job openings.  10. Be a resource for others. Let other job seekers know if you learn of openings that might be suitable for them. When you help others, they are more likely to help you.       Additional information on job-search activities may be found in my book, The Communication Clinic:99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes.  Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on business etiquette, presentation skills, career advancement, professional presence, and business writing. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at Joyce@pachter.com. (www.pachter.com) 
With almost the entire business world operating under the restrictions of a coronavirus pandemic, many of us are becoming all too familiar with meetings conducted online instead of in a conference room or office.   But, as a woman I coached via Zoom recently observed, “Since your colleagues aren’t in the room with you, it’s easy to forget that they are still observing you!” Her comment highlights a key pitfall about online meetings – not paying attention to how others see you during a videoconference.  This is especially true if you are not accustomed to presenting yourself professionally online, but now find yourself working from home and using videoconferencing apps to meet with colleagues, bosses, customers, clients, vendors, or even friends and family. It can lead to distracting behaviors that I’ve attributed to such characters as Eye-roll Ruby, Angry Andy, and so on. These eight examples of what not to do will help you to be mindful of how you are presenting yourself when video chatting: 1.    Too-close Cody.  We don’t want to see your nose hairs! Position yourself far enough from the camera so you don’t show a tight shot of your face – that is, from forehead to chin. In most instances, you want to show your head, shoulders, and part of your chest. 2.    Who knew, Nell? Your background for a videoconference can be a simple wall or a section of a room in your home. Be aware of what others will be able to see behind you. The paintings or artwork on the wall, items on your tables, or books on your bookshelves will reveal aspects of your personality that your colleagues may not know. For example: Who knew Nell collected trumpets! This may be a good thing, as colleagues will discover more about her – or they may learn way too much about her!    3.    In the dark, Daniel. Make sure your location has good lighting. You want to be seen clearly, without any shadows hiding your appearance. Be careful if you have a window behind you. If it is bright outside, you will appear as a dark silhouette.    4.    Interrupting Isabella. These are unusual times. People know that kids, pets, or grandparents may be roaming around your house during business hours. Your dog coming up to you occasionally might be fine, but being interrupted constantly by your kids or pets will disrupt the meeting. To the degree that you can, manage these interruptions. 5.    Eye-roll Ruby. One woman I coached recently complained that her colleague kept rolling her eyes whenever my client spoke. Such behavior is distracting and rude. And speaking of eyes, look at and talk to the camera, not the image on the screen. If are looking at your computer screen, you may appear to be looking down. If you look directly at the camera – usually positioned in the center of the frame above the screen – you will appear to be looking the other person in the eye.   6.    Angry Andy. This is the person who has a very stern Standard Facial Expression, which is what I call the expression your face assumes when you are in neutral mode. Your SFE is what people see when you are looking at them, listening to them, or just not talking. Many people have stern facial expressions and don’t even realize it. What message is your face conveying about you?  (See my suggestion below; additional information about facial expressions can be found in my book, The Essentials of Business Etiquette.)  7.    Gesturing George. You don’t want to gesture too much. Waving your arms around can become a distraction. Resist the urge to twist your hair, play with rubber bands, or click your pen. These are all distractions that make you appear nervous. Resting your head on your hand makes you look bored. And, as many people know, crossing your arms can make you appear defensive or “closed.” 8.    I’m still in PJs, Poppy. One woman I coached via Zoom looked like she was wearing her pajamas. Working from home is more casual than working in the office, but not that casual! Match your clothing choice to the purpose of the meeting. If you are seeing your CEO, dress more professionally. If you are meeting with your team, you may want to dress more casually. But remember, it’s still business. “Casual” does not mean sloppy. And yes, you do need to wear the entire outfit, not just the top that shows above the table. You never know when something might happen that requires you to stand up suddenly. Need I say more? Suggestion: A practice session can help you to become aware of the image you are conveying to others. Situate yourself in the same location you will use for online meetings, and then connect with a friend to analyze how you appear on camera – and make any adjustments necessary.   Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on business etiquette, presentation skills, career advancement, professional presence, and business writing. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at Joyce@pachter.com or 856.751.6141. (www.pachter.com) 
Etiquette rules for the sidewalk? I know that sounds strange, so let me explain.  A colleague recently called me and wanted some help. She said that she had been out walking and saw a couple approaching her on the sidewalk. She wanted to follow today’s social-distancing guidelines, and she realized that the other people were going to be too close to her if everyone continued walking straight. Her question: “Who should have moved over?”  This question highlights an etiquette dilemma in our coronavirus-dominated world —to ensure adequate space between people outdoors, who moves out of the way when two or more people are sharing a walkway?  This situation may arise more frequently as people are being encouraged to exercise. David Pogue, a correspondent for the television show Sunday Morning on CBS News, did a segment this week on How to live AND work at home without going stir crazy. His fifth rule was “Go Outside.” His suggestion was to take walks with people who live with you, but steer clear of others. Obviously, etiquette concerns are nowhere near as critical as getting needed masks and respirators to hospitals, but having answers for day-to-day situations can help people to stay safe, and also give them a sense of having some control in our uncertain world. Below are guidelines to help you safely navigate sidewalks and walkways shared with other people:  1. Pay attention. Notice your surroundings and anticipate. If you are talking on the phone or texting, it’s easy to become distracted and not notice someone coming your way. If your view is obscured for any reason – such as when you are approaching a corner – you may be unable to see someone walking directly toward you. Be aware of that possibility, and proceed cautiously until you can see what’s ahead. You don’t want to bump into people!   2. Who moves? If someone is approaching and you realize you’ll be too close when passing each other, what are you to do?  Generally, it is the responsibility of each walker to move to the right when passing so that there is at least six feet between you. If the person approaching you is walking with a cane, pushing a baby stroller, or struggling with agility issues, you are the one who should move out of the way. Bottom line: Don’t stand on ceremony. If you believe that someone will be too close to you, move over!    3.  Walk single file. If you are walking side by side with someone – even if you are several feet apart – go to single file when passing others. If you don’t, you put the person approaching you in the awkward position of deciding whether to go around one of you or to go between the two of you.  4. Don’t hog the sidewalk. If you block the walkway when you stop to chat with someone – from a safe distance! – or to let your dog do his business, it’s your responsibility to move aside and let other people pass. 5. Pass people carefully. If you want to pass someone, make your presence known. You can call out “behind you” or “on your left” so you don’t startle the person. You then move to the left, keeping your social distance. The other person can also move to the right, making it easier for the person who wants to pass.   6. Greet others. People can hear a “good morning” or see a wave from six feet away. Even though we are social-distancing, we still want to be social. (See my blog on Greeting Others In A Social-Distancing World.) And remember, if someone says “hello” to you, good manners require that you say “hello” back.   7.  Wash your hands when you return home. You don’t know what you might have touched while you were out. Frequent hand-washing is high on the list of recommendations for fighting this coronavirus.  Additional information about etiquette and your career can be found in Barbara Pachter's book, The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way to Success (McGraw Hill). Other books by Pachter include The Power of Positive Confrontation and The Communication Clinic.  Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on business etiquette, presentation skills, career advancement, professional presence, and business writing. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at Joyce@pachter.com or 856.751.6141.
20.03.2020
Barbara Pachter
No comments
I taught people the correct way to shake hands in my etiquette classes for over 25 years. Not anymore.  In a world of coronavirus, our ways of interacting with others must change. The animated video of the burning matches by Spanish graphic designer Juan Delcan illustrates how social distancing – staying at least 6 feet away from everyone else – can help stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus.   I love the handshake. It allows you to connect with and touch someone in a non-sexual way that establishes a bond and an element of trust. It promotes equality, too, as both men and women shake hands. But there is no touching in a social-distancing world. Yet eliminating the handshake from our world does not mean it’s time to stop connecting. Today, relating to others is more important than ever, as many of us are working from home and feeling isolated from colleagues and friends.   During this crisis, I encourage you to use other greetings. In my international etiquette class, I teach that there are four key greetings around the world. The two that involved touching clearly should not be used: the handshake, and hugs and kisses. The other two are the bow, and the namaste (hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, with a slight bow). Either of these can be used to acknowledge others if you are taking a walk for exercise, or video-chatting with colleagues or friends. You could also wave. Acknowledging someone with a wave can go a long way in letting people know you are pleased to see them. Plus, it’s important to smile. I know that these are tough times, and right now it may not seem like there is a lot to smile about, but connecting with others is one way we will get through this crisis. (In Italy, residents gathered on their balconies to publicly praise and thank their medical caregivers, and then joined in singing popular songs that echoed from building to building across the city! It was such an uplifting sight, videos of it were shown around the world.) I don’t know when social distancing will end. Soon, I hope. And when it does, I look forward to shaking your hand! Additional information about greetings and your career can be found in my book, The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way to Success (McGraw Hill).  Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on business etiquette, presentation skills, professional presence and business writing. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at Joyce@pachter.com or 856.751.6141.   
06.10.2019
Barbara Pachter
No comments
My girlfriend showed me how to use my utensils, but I’m not sure she is correct. I have a job interview at a fancy restaurant coming up. Help.  My colleague never puts his knife down when eating. Is that correct? I read that there is a “finished position” for utensils. What is that?  I have received a number of questions about correct behavior during a business meal, especially concerning the use of utensils. People can get nervous when dining for business. And with good reason. You don’t want to blow a deal or a job offer based on your dining manners. To help people in my corporate classes remember what not to do with their utensils, I created these four examples: 1. Waving William: You wave your hands around with your utensils in them when you are talking at the table. Beware – the food on the utensils may go flying toward your neighbor! It’s best not to do much gesturing at all while you are dining, and never with a utensil in hand. 2. Finger-Pusher Fran: You want to eat every last bite, so you use your finger to help push food onto your fork. The days of the “clean plate club” are over. If you can’t get the food onto your fork without using your finger, leave it on the plate. Or, eat Continental style. In this style, the knife is used to push food onto the back of the fork. 3. Pitchfork Pete: You make a fist around your fork when cutting your meat. You look like you are holding a pitchfork! You should hold a fork with the handle inside the palm of your hand, and use your thumb and index finger to manipulate it. 4. Split-Personality Susan: You employ both the American and Continental styles of using utensils during one meal. When eating in the American style, you cut your meat using both knife and fork, then place your knife at the top of the plate and switch the fork to the dominant hand to eat. When eating in the Continental style, you still cut your food with both knife and fork, but then you eat the meal without putting the knife down or switching the fork to the opposite hand. As mentioned above, you use the knife to guide food onto the back of the fork. It’s generally best to use just one style.  Other Suggestions for Your Utensils: •  Do not use your knife to cut your bread rolls. Break your roll in half, then tear off one piece at a time, and butter each piece as you are ready to eat it. •  Place your knife and fork in the rest position (knife on top of plate, fork across middle of plate) to let the waiter know you are resting but not done with your meal. Use the finished position (knife and fork together diagonally across the plate, knife on top) to indicate that you have finished eating. Additional information about business meals and your career can be found in my book, The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way to Success (McGraw Hill). Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on business etiquette, presentation skills, professional presence and business writing. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at  joyce@pachter.com or 856.751.6141.
15.09.2019
Barbara Pachter
No comments
Is the title of this blog a true or false statement?  If you said “true,” you are correct. Email doesn’t technically require a salutation as it is considered to be memo format. (This is different from a business letter, which does require a salutation.) When email first appeared, many people did not use salutations. Eventually, people started adding salutations to seem friendlier, and to soften the tone of their writings. Although salutations are not required, they are highly recommended. This is especially true when you are writing an email to someone for the first time, writing the first email in what is likely to become a string, or dealing with a difficult or awkward situation.  But how should you address the person to whom you are writing? Since you don’t want to offend someone with your choice of salutation, here are five suggestions: 1. Spell the recipient’s name correctly. Let me repeat this: Spell the recipient’s name correctly. It may not bother you, but I want to impress upon you that many people are insulted if their name is misspelled. Check for the correct spelling in the person’s signature block. Copy and paste the name to make sure you are spelling it correctly. Checking the “To:” line is also a good idea, as people’s first and/or last names are often in their email addresses. 2. Don’t shorten a person’s name or use a nickname unless you know it is okay. Use the person’s full name (“Hi, Jacob”) unless you know it is okay to use the shortened version (Jake). My name is Barbara, but please don’t start your emails to me using “Hi Barb.” (And the only people who may refer to me as Babz are my son and his friends!) 3. Know when to stop using a salutation. After two or three emails have gone back and forth on the same email string, the salutations can be dropped. 4. Use a greeting. There is a hierarchy of greetings, from informal to formal, and you should match the salutation to the relationship you have with the recipient. The hierarchy follows this format:                          Hi Anna, / Hello Julianna, / Dear Justin, / Dear Mr. Jones, If the person you are writing to is a colleague, “Hi Anna,” should be fine. If you don’t know the person, or the person has significantly higher rank than you have, you may want to use the more formal greeting: “Dear Justin,” or “Dear Mr. Jones.” Hey is a very informal salutation (“Hey Josh,”), and generally should not be used in the workplace. Opening with Yo is definitely not okay, no matter how informal your relationship with the recipient. Use Hi or Hello instead. 5. Avoid “Dear Sir/Ms.” This salutation tells your reader that you have no idea who that person is. Why then should the reader be interested in what you have to say? Additional information on business writing and emails can be found in my book, The Communication Clinic: 99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes.  Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on business writing, communication, presentation skills and etiquette. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at joyce@pachter.com or 856.751.6141. (www.pachter.com)
09.09.2019
Barbara Pachter
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I write a couple of sentences and then delete them. Write a few more and delete them. It’s a constant, incredibly annoying process. I always have to rewrite. Is there something wrong with me? I was afraid to apply for a new position because it involved a lot of writing.    The comments above, from participants in my writing seminars, illustrate the frustration business people often feel when tackling writing assignments. But it’s not just participants in such classes who suffer from fear of writing. Putting pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – can be daunting for many people. I believe that, to a large degree, the frustration comes from people trying to create a perfect piece of writing the first time they sit down to do an assignment, whether it’s a business email or a complicated report. They think that what they type should not need any correcting or rewriting. They are wrong. Creating an imperfect piece of writing – a draft – is part of the normal process of writing. Yes, I said normal. Once you have a draft, you can set about revising it. Most people find it easier to correct their writing than to create the exact wording they want the first time they try. Many well-known people, including professional writers, have expressed their understanding of the importance of writing… and rewriting. • There is no great writing, only great rewriting. – the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis • I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter. – author James Michener I describe the making of a draft as “open writing.” This term is easy to remember, as you basically open yourself up and let the words flow. Here are six guidelines to help you with open writing: 1. Relax. People have a tendency to get nervous and then agonize over their writing assignments. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect… yet. One seminar participant told me that once the pressure was off to create a perfect document on her first attempt, she was able to write. 2. Put the email address in last. If you are using open writing in an email, you don’t want to send the email before you have revised it, so leave the “To” line blank until you are satisfied with your message. If you are responding to an email, erase the address and add it when you are finished. (Additional suggestions on email can be found in my book, The Communication Clinic: 99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes, McGraw Hill, 2017.) 3. Write the way you speak. Most of us have no difficulty speaking coherently and clearly. When you write the way you speak, you are writing in a conversational tone, which helps you connect with your reader. Another advantage is that this approach often helps you to write quickly. 4. Don't stop writing. No crossing out or back-spacing. You don't want to disrupt the flow of your thoughts. If you find yourself going off in the wrong direction, write yourself out of it. You will rearrange your wording later. Computers make it very easy to cut-and-paste. (This term survives from a time when writers or editors revising drafts written on typewriters would literally cut up their written paragraphs and paste them in the order they preferred. See how much easier we have it!) 5. Set a time limit. When you sit down to write, allocate a certain amount of time. It doesn't need to be a lot of time. In my classes, my writing assignments are only five minutes in duration, but all the participants write between half a page and one and a half pages. That’s a lot of writing in just a few minutes. After my students have finished their open-writing assignments, I tell them that in the past, most of them probably stared at a blank computer screen for longer than five minutes. Now consider how much they’ve been able to write in the same time in class. That is when the light bulb usually goes on for them, and they realize the value of open writing. 6. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar… for now. You will correct your grammar and spelling before you hit the send button or mail that document. For now, you just want to write. Once you have followed these six steps, you are not done. Let me say that again: You are not done. Now it is time to revise your writings – but now you have something to work on, instead of a blank screen. Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on business writing, communication, career development,  presentation skills, professional presence, and etiquette. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at joyce@pachter.com or 856.751.6141. (www.pachter.com) 

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About Barbara Pachter

Author of 10 etiquette books, Barbara Pachter is a leader in the business etiquette field, with over 20 years experience as an etiquette trainer and coach. Her first book The Prentice Hall Complete Business Etiquette Handbook in 1995 helped set the standard for the field, and her most recent book, The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way To Success continues to establish etiquette guidelines for the ever-changing workplace. 

She has given more than 2,500 presentations throughout the world and won numerous awards, including “Best 50 Women in Business in New Jersey.” Her books have been translated into 11 languages. Pachter is also adjunct faculty in the School of Business, Rutgers University. 

She is founder of Pachter & Associates, a business etiquette and communications training company. Her clients range from Chrysler and Microsoft to Pfizer, Cisco and Campbell Soup. 

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