The role of emotion in business writing

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Is business writing just about bloodless logic? Or is there room for some poetry, some inspiration, some passion in it? This week I conducted my clear writing workshop with writers from a large technology-focused company in Silicon Valley. The participants provide their product managers with research-based information to help support smarter decisions. A typical document … Continued

Jargon holds companies — and communities — together. Is that a good thing?

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On Vulture and in New York Magazine, Molly Young muses about the garbage language that functions as the glue in companies. But what do these tiny dialects say about the clans we all belong to? Molly Young’s article “Garbage Language: Why do corporations speak the way they do?” delves into buzzwords and the role they … Continued

The unwritten rules of collaborative courtesy

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Collaboration on writing is hard enough. It can work only when there is a shared understanding of process and assumptions. Some rules and conventions regarding writing collaboration seem obvious to me — so obvious that I never mention them, because an experienced writer would find it insulting. Then a perfectly well-meaning collaborator will break such … Continued

The Boy Scouts file for bankruptcy, then issue two vastly different statements

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So many people have sued the Boy Scouts of America over childhood sexual abuse that the organization has filed for bankruptcy. The organization made one official statement and one heartfelt statement. While what happened is terrible, their communication about it is intriguing. Let’s start with this. Childhood sexual abuse is horrifying and awful, ruining lives. … Continued

John Henry’s disingenuous justification for trading Red Sox star Mookie Betts

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The Red Sox traded beloved outfielder Mookie Betts, one of the best players in baseball, along with pitcher David Price, to the LA Dodgers. They saved a boatload of money, in exchange for some younger but much less talented players. Fans are devastated. Team owner John Henry’s explanation is touching, in its way, but he … Continued

A terse and unhelpful cancellation notice for the MWC (Mobile World Congress) in Barcelona

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The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona attracts 100,000 international attendees. The organization that runs it, GSMA, just cancelled it due to coronavirus health concerns. Their announcement isn’t at all helpful. In the face of the coronavirus pandemic and the withdrawal of some key exhibitors, the mobile operator group GSMA had to cancel the Barcelona show. … Continued

Sonos angers its customers with a tone-deaf email. Then it recovers.

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When you have a difficult decision to share, it matters a lot how you communicate it. Sonos proved this by annoying its customers with a message about obsolescing products, then turning around and making things better the next day. The original Sonos post was offensive Here’s the hard fact: technology products become obsolete. After a … Continued

Tesla says “You’re full of crap” as clearly as possible

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into reports that Tesla vehicles accelerate on their own. Tesla thinks that’s bullshit, and they have the data — and the statement — to back it up. NHTSA is investigating 127 claims of “sudden unintentional acceleration” in Teslas. This is a big deal — when it happened … Continued