Four Types of Business Communication You Must Know

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Last week, we established that the tone of all forms of business writing, from emails to business plans, must remain professional. Click here to read that article.

While keeping a professional tone at all times, it is important to identify the goal of each business communication. What exactly are you trying to achieve? Once you answer this question, you should be able to communicate your ideas clearly and effectively.

All forms of business communication fall under one of the following types. Make sure you goal aligns with your choice of words.

 

  • Actionable Communication. This type of communication encourages people to take actions or follow specific instructions. For example, one can send an email asking colleagues to complete an optional online survey. Actionable communication gives the reader something to do. It is expected that this kind of writing is motivational so that the reader is egged on to take the desired action. 
  • Informational Communication. This kind of business writing simply informs an audience. For example, an Ad announcing the re-branding of a product or service of a company. Informational communication is expected to be clear and easy to understand so as to avoid misinterpretation.
  • Negative Communication. This type of communication is inevitable in the corporate world. Sometimes an appointment has to be terminated or a deal has to be cancelled. Whatever the situation that calls for negative communication, care must be taken when writing any document of this nature. It’s important to be empathetic but firm and direct in this type of communication.
  • Persuasive Communication. This refers to proposals or applications for funding, a government grant, or partnership. The tone and style of the writing should be convincing and positive. The document has to hook the recipient so they consider or act on the plan.

 

 

WORKS FROM GIRD WRITING CAMP 2016: “BABOON BLUES” BY NANA AKOSUA HANSON

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We bring you more featured work from participants of Gird Writing Camp 2016. Today, we have a short story from Nana Akosua Hanson. This work of fiction was written at the Fiction Workshop with Prof. Ama Ata Aidoo and Dr. Martin Egblewogbe.

BABOON BLUES

We bathed in the sun, near the glistening pool. It was a sunny, dusty afternoon in Mole National Park spent with the baboons, hogs and the over-promised elephants, which were the main attraction.

A bottle of chilled Star beer was at my elbow, winking at the sun from time to time and shedding tears unto the red and white chequered tablecloth. The Love of my Life lay with his head on my laps, lazily daydreaming, his eyes half closed in a dream behind his sunglasses. We were the only Ghanaians, and black people for that matter. There was a medley of British, Swiss, Dutch, and French skins, the harmonious cacophony of their different tongues hinted at a Tower of Babel. As I watched three French girls and a guy jump into the pool, chattering away in accents my Togolese French teacher in high school could only dream to have, I felt like I was in a page of a very old French storybook about the wealthy French aristocracy and their summer revels.

I took a sip of my refreshingly chilled beer, rolling it around on my tongue for a bit to squeeze out all its sweet juices before swallowing, and wondered at my boredom.

We had paid an arm and a leg, and then some to experience ‘a historical animal reserve like never before’ just to find that it was only a club for the holiday-ing expats who wished to discover ‘Africa’. I wondered at my place. I wondered at my role in this discovery of ‘Africa’. Was I also an interesting, ‘exotic’ specie to be observed and scrutinized? Was my holidaying African self which was currently covered in dust and the kisses of recent lovemaking another interesting sideshow? From the poor naked African children, to the holidaying, dusty African. I heard somewhere that tours were running in a nearby village, ‘to give you a taste of how the locals live’. What role would I be playing, my Ghanaian self walking through a Ghanaian village square with a camera, taking a tour into people’s lives for an exorbitant price of $80? Am I the monkey in the cage observing being observed? Or am I the pet monkey out of the cage observing my observed caged brothers and sisters.

‘To give you a taste of how the locals live’.

A group of beautiful half-naked girls danced into the village square, as is routine with the visitation of so many white faces and strange tongues that spoke big pockets, and treated us with a vigorous shaking of arms and feet and waists and quite a lot of yodelling. For $80 dollars per person it had to be the perfect pitch and nothing less. The money was given to the development of the village that saw no development because, it had to remain a village to make more money out of these tourists. One of those dusty crooks, an inhabitant too, with crooked teeth, eager to sell his sister for the quick buck, grinned at me and said, ‘We can show you more things, madam, so many, many more things. The villagers life happy.’

What was my role in this stream of consciousness a mystery writer writes lazily in the sky? What was the spectacle? Was I the spectacle? Were they the spectacle? Two dark Ghanaians mottled the cream white background of ‘Africa discoverers’.  Was I the dusty tourist looking to find a much more intriguing story than myself?  Or was I the monkey who mistook herself for a tourist and then toured with tourists too benevolent to tell me my truth to my face? Or was I the monkey who was the sideshow and knew she was the sideshow?

I gulped down the contents of my glass and poured a refill. Droplets of water dripped onto the Love of my Life’s eyebrows but he made no move. He was asleep now. Lucky him.

A big baboon skulked by, his shiny red buttocks hanging in the air with a foolhardy pride. Did baboons feel the silliest of all the primates having their innards hung out for all to see? I think not. They had this conviction with their buttocks, as though telling you ‘that’s the way it should be. Hang that ass for all to see. How silly you are to hide it in clothes’. And silly I did feel sometimes. Maybe I should title my next blog piece ‘Baboon Blues’ and I would question what gave me the conviction that I was a higher class of animal than the baboon.

I watched the baboon intently as it walked towards a group of baboons on the outskirts of the pool area, who in turn watched us intently – the human baboons with their buttocks in swimming trunks. And I wondered again, what the true spectacle was, who the true spectacle was. The humans or the baboon? The Ghanaians or the holidaying expats? The villagers or the tourists?

By the way, where were those damned elephants they promised?

 

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AKOSUA’S BIO: Nana Akosua Hanson is a writer, an actress and an activist who believes in the power of art and artistic expression in changing the world.

Should My Business Emails Be Friendly or Formal?

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When composing a business email, setting the right tone can be tricky.

Let’s say your client or boss receives hundreds of emails in a day. With so many emails, he or she must choose which ones to read in a matter of seconds. If your email address isn’t familiar or your subject line is generic it may be deleted or ignored. However, an informal subject line or email may be viewed as unprofessional or even disrespectful.

So, how do you set the right tone in a business email? When composing an email, it is good to consider some of the following questions. How do you know this person? What, if any, contact have you had in the past? Is the person a superior at work or a client? Is the person family or a friend?

Generally, if this is the first contact between you and the person, you might want to use a formal tone. First impressions are important.

Avoid contractions and use the passive voice where appropriate for a more formal tone. You may consider using the recipient’s full name or their title. Also don’t forget to add your contact information.

If you have already engaged in correspondence with the person and they have replied in an informal tone, perhaps using “Hi” and your first name as a greeting, don’t feel uneasy about matching their informal tone.

One thing to keep in mind is that formal isn’t always the same as professional. In a work environment, it’s important to always remain professional, even when the tone is informal. Inappropriate jokes, negative comments and gossips have no place in business emails. Remember emails can easily be forwarded and once you send an email you can never take it back. Don’t get too comfortable, keep things professional at all times.

WORKS FROM GIRD WRITING CAMP 2016: CREATIVE NON-FICTION FROM PORTIA OPARE

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Today we’re featuring work from the Gird Writing Camp 2016. This Creative Non-fiction piece was written by Portia Opare, who attended the Creative Non-fiction workshop with Prof. Esi Sutherland-Addy and Mr. Kobby Graham.

 

 

JOURNALISTIC PIECE

On Thursday some women of the University of Ghana reported getting harassed by residents of the Commonwealth Hall. The Commonwealth Hall held its homecoming ceremony at the forecourt of the hall. The ceremony was massively attended by the old boys of the Hall, most of who were now politicians, business men and respectable professionals. During the ceremony, the passage through the forecourt of the Hall was blocked to women. Current members of the Hall stood at vantage points and directed women through an alternative entrance. Some women who entered through the blocked forecourt, which lacked a sign to show that there was a blockade, were heckled by some students of the Hall.

 

CREATIVE NON-FICTION PIECE

 The Akan name for vagina is a hard thing to say. If I could say it out loud, I’d do it. That’s what the boys called me.

Boys younger than me; boys who could have been my brothers.

That’s the name they screamed at me when the tips of my feet touched the paved forecourt of the Commonwealth Hall. I had been reduced to a body part; all of me- my ambitions, my fears, my dreams, my hopes; my mind. I was a body part; a part unworthy of honour from the way they spat out the name. And my crime?  I had trampled on their manly shrine, entered their holy ground with all of my femininity.

Normally, I’d pause and question; I’d be curious enough to want to question what gave them the authority to block off a piece of this communal earth with the virtual barricade of jeers and vulgarity.  But that Thursday evening I had little energy left in me to be incensed. I wasn’t intimidated by them or their cat-calls. I blamed our society for their actions. Why blame those boys? They were only victims of a system that insisted on drawing sharp divisions between superior and inferior, between man and woman. I was especially not surprised that the dignified alumnus looked on as filthy name after filthy name was thrown at me. They were big men, these politicians, lawyers, educators; yet they needed the balm of my shame to stroke their manhood.

So I ignored them, and kept on walking. Call me names, reduces me to whatever suits you. I will just keep on walking, and keep on moving.

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About: Portia Dede Opare is a part time student and a full time thinker of all things sane and insane. Sometimes she puts some of her thoughts on paper. When she writes,  she makes sense of the world.

Do These 3 Things Anytime You Have To Send a Business Email

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So you’ve typed out an email to a client and you’re about to send the message on its merry way. Not so fast though, make sure you’ve done these three things before you click send. Email mistakes are difficult to correct and can be costly or damaging to your reputation.

 

  • Proofread every lineEmails with typos are not taken seriously so have you done a spell check? Are you using proper sentence structure? Are the first letters of the first words in a sentence capitalised? Are all names spelt correctly? Refrain from using multiple exclamation or question marks. Also make sure all links in the email are working. And make sure the subject of the email matches the content. Don’t misrepresent the content of your email — it will annoy the recipient.

 

  • Read your email aloudMake sure you get the tone of your email right by reading your email aloud. Try to avoid using formatting to emphasise words. Instead, use words that reflect exactly what you want to say. Did you address the email receiver by name? Did you open the email with a courteous sentence? Did you conclude the email with at least one pleasantry sentence (e.g., have a great weekend, or best regards)? “Please” and “thank you” also give your email a nice tone. If you’re emotionally charged, give yourself some time to cool down so your emotions don’t creep into your work.

 

  • Check the recipients – Make sure you have all email addresses spelt correctly. Also refrain from using the “reply to all feature” or “CYA.” Reply directly to the sender as others may not be interested. If all recipients of the email do not know each other, use BCc instead of Cc.

 

You can now confidently send that email to your boss or a client.

Interview with Harry Dzomeku– Ghanaian Author and Entrepreneur

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Harry is a Ghanaian entrepreneur who has authored six books namely, Integrated Science for Schools and Colleges, Tilapia Farming Made Easy, The Entrepreneur: Timeless Principles for Business Success, Navigating Minefields: Laws of Possibilities, Navigating Minefields: To Be or Not to Be and Navigating Minefields: Great Expectations. He shares with the Girdblog a little bit about his journey as an author.  

Girdblog: Who is Harry Dzomeku?

Harry: I am an entrepreneur, teacher, author and business strategist. I am the Executive President of LifeLine Holdings, a thriving holding company in Tema, Ghana.

Girdblog: You are launching three books on February 4, can you tell us a little bit about that?

Harry: Yes. I am launching two books in the “Navigating Minefield Series” and the main book, titled “The Entrepreneur: Timeless Principles for Business Success”. The Venue is ICGC-Zoe Temple Community 5, Tema. Adjacent to Chopticks Restaurant. And the time is 3pm. This is my second book launch party.

Girdblog: What was the first book you wrote and why did you write it?

Harry: My first book is titled, “Tilapia Farming Made Easy”. I am currently working on the revised edition. I wrote that book out of a need to educate people, both aquapreneurs and farmers on what to expect on the venture of Tilapia farming. I was consulted by a company to design and promote a business development plan for a tilapia farming project for them. As a business development consultant, with no prior knowledge of tilapia farming, I had to research extensively on the venture. I visited almost all the farms along the Volta Lake. After a successful project, I decided to turn my research into a manual to help others.

Girdblog: How many books have you authored so far?

Harry: Only six.

Girdblog: Haha! Only six, impressive. Who would you say you write for?

Harry: It depends on the subject matter. But mostly adults; young and old. Students, entrepreneurs, Christians, non-Christians. Everyone; adults, practically.

Girdblog: What is the goal of your writing?

Harry: I write to impact on lives for many generations. I hope that the books I’ve written will bless those who read. I am very passionate about the issues I write on. I want to write more, cos there’re a lot of false knowledge out there.

Girdblog: What is the hardest part about writing?

Harry: The introduction or preface. For me, that’s where everything is contextualized. Once that’s done, the manuscript is ready because, the content just flows naturally.

Girdblog: Who is invited to your book launch and why should they come?

Harry: Everyone is invited. But call me first. We plan for what we expect.

Girdblog: Are you working on any new writing projects?

Harry: Yes, currently three. I am revising “Tilapia farming Made Easy” and starting two new manuscripts.  I hope to complete them before February ends. My target book production period is 100 hours. No excuse whatsoever.

Girdblog: Your “target book production period is 100 hours. No excuse whatsoever.” What does that mean?

Harry: When I start a new book writing project, my target is that, it shouldn’t take me more than 100 hours to finish the first draft.

Girdblog: Wow. That’s quite specific and amazing. Now, taking a favourite quote, line or experience from any of your books what would you say to that ONE person out there who needs that single burst of wisdom/inspiration to achieve her/his goal?

Harry: When you find an excuse, don’t pick it up. It’ll rob you of your full potential, and make you a systemic failure.

5 ARCHAIC PHRASES TO AVOID IN BUSINESS WRITING

 

Take a look at the following phrases.

  • Please find enclosed …
  • Please be advised that…
  • Trusting this will meet with your approval…
  • This will acknowledge receipt of your letter of…
  • Pursuant to your letter of…

Do these phrases remind you of old Victorian novels? If so, you’re not alone. Writing like this was once widely accepted and is still frequently used. However, current business writing has taken on a more relaxed tone. Let us look at ways the above phrases can be rewritten.

  • Instead of saying, “Please find enclosed …”

You can say, “I’m sending you a scanned copy of the certificate.”

  • Instead of saying, “Please be advised that…”

You can say “Please send me your payment details within 10 days if you would like to be booked for the conference.”

  • Instead of saying, “Trusting this will meet with your approval…”

You can say, “I hope you approve of the changes made to the document.”

  • Instead of saying, “This will acknowledge receipt of your letter of…”

You can say, “I received your December 15 memo and will plan to attend the ceremony.”

  • Instead of saying, “Pursuant to your letter of May 1…”

You can say, “I received your May 1 letter about the closing of the school.”

5 Key Business Writing Tips

Communication is mutual understanding. This is especially important in the business world where poor business writing skills can cost you a contract, a promotion, or a new business opportunity. The better your business writing skills, the better your chances of creating the impact you desire. Here are five ways to make sure your writing is as good as it can be.

 

1. Be brief – Less is more in the business world. Stressed and overworked clients have little enthusiasm to read page after page of flowery and meandering text. Cut out the extraneous material and get straight to the point. This will not only save time, but make your writing easier to understand.

 

2. Avoid Jargons – Sometimes jargons are unavoidable, especially in more technical documents, but in most cases jargons only succeed in making your reader want to roll their eyes. Examples of these are “moving forward” and “game changer”. Also avoid academic language like “ergo” or “henceforth.”

 

3. Use an active voice – “The meeting agenda could be discussed further” is passive. “Let’s discuss the meeting agenda” is active. Active voice conveys confidence and decisiveness. Passive voice is weak and impersonal, sapping the power from your writing.

 

4. Pay attention to names, titles, and genders – How embarrassing is it to write to Mrs. Mensah only to later discover that Mrs. Mensah is actually Mr. Mensah? Such mistakes can be avoided by paying careful attention to names, titles and genders. If one is in doubt about the name or title of a client, check with someone who likely knows, for example their assistant.

 

5. Hire a professional – Okay, so this isn’t a writing tip but it’s often necessary. If you’re working on an important document or have little time to devote to improving your writing, it’s always a good idea to hire someone who specializes in business writing to assist. The quality of your business documents says a lot about your professionalism. 

 

Amazing writing may require talent that not all of us have, but effective writing is a skill that can be acquired. If your business writing isn’t up to snuff, we at the Gird Center are always ready to help.

THIS WEEK ON WATCH YOUR GRAMMAR- “FROM THIS DAY GOING? CHILDISH, CHILDISH”

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Hello, you’re welcome to the summary of the previous week’s WatchYourGrammar lessons. WatchYourGrammar is brought to you by GirdCenter, your guide to correct grammar in English. There were only two lessons for last week; we could not bring you a lesson on Monday, we apologize. We will begin with Wednesday’s discussion. Wednesday’s lesson was a discussion on the actual meaning of the word “CHILDISH.”

“CHILDISH” is an adjective; it means “indicating a lack of maturity”; it does not mean “in the manner of a child.”

When I say “Kofi’s language is childish”, I do not mean that he talks like a little child; I mean his language lacks depth and maturity.

From our discussion, which of these sentences is correct:

“Amma has an adorable CHILDISH giggle”

OR

“Amma has an adorable CHILD-LIKE giggle?”

On Friday, we spoke about the phrase “From this day going.” Let’s look at an example of how this Ghanaian phrase is often used:

“From this day GOING, I’ll put on the lights before I jump onto my bed”, Esi said to Semekor.

In official conversations, what should Esi say in place of “from this day GOING?” Esi can say “from this day FORWARD”, “from now ONWARDS” or “from now ON.”

This is what you should remember: in formal conversations, “from this day FORWARD” is much more appropriate than “from this day GOING.”

This Saturday, 12th November 2016, Gird Center will host Dr. Ọbádélé Kambon and Ms. Ama Akwaa Bernice Akuamoah for our Academic Writing Workshop. The Academic writing workshop is targeted at students and academic professionals. Thinking about how to write that exceptional thesis or statement of purpose? 12th November’s Academic Writing Workshop is your go-to place. Click on this link to register for the Academic writing workshop. http://www.girdcenter.org/gird-writing-camp/register-now/

THIS WEEK ON WATCH YOUR GRAMMAR- “SUPER HOT CANVAS”

Hello there, GirdCenter welcomes you to WatchYourGrammar, your guide to correct grammar in English. We will begin today’s summary of last week’s lessons by drawing a distinction between the nouns “GUIDE” and “GUARD.” “GUIDE” and “GUARD” are different in meaning; they also have a marked difference in pronunciation.

Let’s remember that “GUARDS” and “GUIDES” can be people or inanimate objects. Monday’s lesson focused on people who are referred to as “GUARDS”/ “GUIDES.”

A “GUIDE” is a person whose job is to show people around a place or an institution. A “GUIDE” offers information and explanation to people on a tour. A “GUARD”, on the other hand, is a person who protects or watches over people or property.

Here’s a hint: A “GUIDE” directs, while a “GUARD” protects or defends. Always remember that “GUARD” and “GUIDE” have different meanings.

On Wednesday, we discussed the actual meaning of the noun “CANVAS.”A “CANVAS” is a heavy, closely woven fabric used for clothing, chairs, sails and tents.

We can form this sentence with “CANVAS”: “Afi’s camping tent was made of strong, blue “CANVAS.”

At the end of the lesson we concluded that “CANVAS” is not another name for sneakers; sneakers are shoes made from “CANVAS.”

Friday’s lesson, our final lesson for the week, was an analysis of the word “COMPARISM.”Esi says to Adjo: “You’re making an unfair ‘COMPARISM’ of Kofi’s writing and mine.”

What does Esi really intend to say when she says “COMPARISM?”  The word Esi is looking for is “COMPARISON”, not “COMPARISM.”

Sometimes some Ghanaian speakers of English use “COMPARISM” in place of “COMPARISON.”

It is wrong to say COMPARISM because COMPARISM is not a word in the English dictionary. The right word is COMPARISON, and that is what should be used in formal settings.That’s all for the summary of the previous weeks’s lessons.

This Saturday, November 5, join us for the Business Writing Workshop with Samuel Ameyaw Ntiamoah and Kate Addo. Read more about them here: http://www.girdcenter.org/gird-writing-c…/2016-facilitators/
Young entrepreneurs and corporate professionals who want to add a competitive value to their business communication. Register now: http://www.girdcenter.org/gird-writing-camp/register-now/#GirdWritingCamp2016