One Human Being’s Etiquette Is Another Human Being’s Disbelief

Last week, I participated in an all-day editing workshop for continuing education purposes. The goal was to address my wordy writing, but as you can tell, I still have plenty of rehabilitation to do in that area.

My classroom hours were nothing short of eye-opening. I learned a gift basket full of knowledge about the art of email writing including how to be more concise and direct, how to use more action verbs, and how to account for tone and phrase sentences in a positive light.

Without further hullabaloo, presenting some juicy knowledge tidbits for consumption!

I. Whoever Wrote These Gems Is a Sparkling Genius

Sentences I had to edit (I am leaving them uncorrected):

“I put it in the ‘tickler file’. Look for it in their.” [THE TICKLER FILE!!! ZOMG!]

“Hey folks, we’ll be open 24/7 so come on down for your bling-bling today!” [A store that sells bling-bling? Where? Gimme gimme!]

II. Birthdays Bring Out People’s Bad Sides

Another exercise was writing a topic sentence to sum up a collection of bulleted points.

Here is a sampling of the points:

“People in the office like to celebrate birthdays.

Some people get a big fuss made over them, and some don’t.

We need to make things more fair.

Some people are dieting, and all the treats are hard for them to resist.

It seems like the popular people get the biggest parties.

Some people want to celebrate holidays other than birthdays, such as St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving, etc.”

Office birthdays are a turbulent time.
photo courtesy of Flickr and Jason Pratt

III. Time Machine Troubleshooting

There was also a page on words to avoid in emails, such as slang and cliches. Examples of slang were “Git ‘er done, bling, cool, no way, get out.” Examples of cliches were “tried and true, a monkey’s uncle, outside the box.”

(If I could count the number of times I used “a monkey’s uncle” in an email, phoooooo…well, for starters, I don’t even know if I can count that high!)

IV. Yay, Feminism!!!

Another section targeted gender-based pronoun problems and other offensive language such as instead of saying old maid or spinster, you could say single woman!

Or instead of saying the little woman or ball and chain, you could say wife!

Or instead of saying girls (when addressing adult women) or ladies, you could say women!

Or instead of saying big guns, you could say man of the house or husband

I’m kidding about the last one. 

V. Leave the Sass at Home

My favorite exercise was called “From Feisty to Friendly” and involved rewriting a rude, nasty email to be nicer and kinder.

The email example was a memo from Monroe Godzilla (that was actually his name) to all unit employees about cleaning up after themselves in the office kitchen.

It included such gems as “No matter when I go in there, it’s always a pigsty!” and “I just don’t know what it takes, people” and “Whoever it is needs serious help, and I plan to give it.” Clearly, some really great stuff.

The surprising thing was after correcting it, the memo turned super passive-aggressive with ample use of feel-good words such as “reminder,” “support,” “success,” “team,” and “benefit.”

The Second Life office kitchen never gets dirty.
photo courtesy of Flickr and Pathfinder Linden

VI. In Signing Off…

We were also advised never to sign an email off with “Thanks” as the tone can be misinterpreted as sarcastic or blunt.

Instead we were told to use something more respectful and formal such as “Sincerely” or “Best regards” or, the leader by far, “Cordially” (obvi along with attached jpegs of a powdered wig and a cumberbund).

VII. No, For Real This Time!

I just made this seventh point because I learned today that lists should have no more than seven points. Anything after that and the human attention span just fades out into default buzzy mode. You’re welcome!

In conclusion, it was a fun day! The end.

Parna Grrrrl

Did Someone Request an Eye Roll?

i just put in two technology help requests, and was within ten minutes, requited with the beck and call of the service gods. but the duo of incidents left me feeling inadequate.

1. my first request was because my phone came down with a bad case of uselessness some time yesterday. the dial tone disappeared, and the device became an unimpressive piece of plastic and wires that kept flashing the infuriating message “Locked Out” in the little caller ID box that might as well have said “I Got Tired of Working. At Lunch Indefinitely.” phones eat minutes if you were wondering what dining options are for phones. there’s a great take-out place across the street that knows how to scramble a good hour of anyone’s time on toast. anyhoo, i put in a e-ticket help request for my locked out phone. seemed pretty hopeless. not two minutes later, someone comes in, pushes a button on my phone with no fanfare whatsoever, and says “ho hum, now it should be working” and leaves. lo and behold, the phone started working again.

at least my phone wasn’t struck by lightning
photo courtesy of Flickr and david.nikonvscanon

well i could have hit the Cancel button if that’s all it was! i felt a bit unrescued, truth be told. that’s like if i was a damsel hanging out of the dragon-of-the-month’s mouth – some apathetic prince shows up, kicks the dragon in the shin thus causing it to unclench its jaw, and then unceremoniously peaces out – leaving a now safe but ego-bruised damsel on the cave floor wondering where she went wrong in life while counterculture prince takes off for royal gentleman’s slam poetry club, or wherever hipster princes go after routine rescues. anyway, since then, i have managed to lock out my phone again and re-rescue myself from the impending doom of missing the 1-3 phonecalls i get (if i am plucky) per day.

2. the second help request was even worse. my email outlook out-of-office assistant wasn’t working. the little function that sets up an auto-reply to people when you are on vacation or avoiding correspondence, was not in the mood for functionality. i figured this issue might take some more finesse than a mere phony alarm. so i was pretty pumped about getting to the bottom of the botheration. this story is even more sordid. again, the guy shows up semi-instantaneously to help me. i open up my email program. everything. works. fine. everything that was malfunctioning before is now a mere dream as if i log-in fake problems to waste everyone’s time. i appear a complete buffoon. the saving grace to this incident was how the IT guy closed up the situation.


he made it look like a heavenly miracle resolved my issue – no explanation whatsoever and look at all! those! exclamation! points! i put on a party hat after looking at this dazzling conclusion to another misappropriated use of company time.

Also, new NBC blog up. Craw craw. Craw craw. Crowing for attention. Craw craw. Redundant, as personal blogs are, in essence, where egos go to get tune-ups after every 5,000 emotional miles of service.