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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Kisses in the workplace

Increasingly while I continue to tweak my signature block for all kinds of emails, people writing to me keep blowing e-kisses using icons instead of providing contact information in their work documents.

I thought blowing me a kiss an oddity at first—figured it was just a person with an affectionate nature on the loose blowing kisses to me over the Internet. Now I get these  puckered lips, yellow and red e-kisses all the time in personal and workplace documents.

In personal emails, that’s okay with me--amusing even. I blow a few kisses myself now, and in real life, I have to stop myself from blowing fingertip kisses to people coming and going and sometimes the preacher when he first stands up behind the pulpit, all lonely and high up with the light in his eyes and his stomach rumbling because sometimes our guy fasts before he preaches.

There are a lot of reasons to want to blow a kiss to your early morning preacher who has to talk meaningfully and inoffensively to a great number of sleepy, also hungry people who have their own ideas, and sometimes, because there is such a great gulf of a distance between us and because I am so fond of him, I want to shout out, “Morning to you!” but we don’t shout out in our church either.  About the best I can do is waft a blown fingertip kiss to him, but I don’t because it would make him nervous I think—all that windblown affection and good will coming at him when he’s trying to talk about sin and heaven.

So I restrain the gusto of my affection and good will for him by not blowing him a kiss and use it in emails and texts to say yes to invitations to lunch,😘 see ya later😘, and happy birthday😘.

But at work?

I don’t blow kisses at work.

I don’t blow e-kisses in work documents.

I use my words instead to communicate as clearly as possible what I mean to say, and they are professional words of helpfulness and expressions of gratitude and apologies and words carefully chosen that respect the boundaries of discourse and prove, I hope, that I would not care to be misunderstood by someone thinking that a blown kiss is an invitation to some real kissin’ cause there are serious rules about no love explored in the workplace that could become litigious (sexual harassment) or cause people up and down a workplace hierarchy to question whether getting work done is the same as doing and getting favors.  Real work relies upon good will, and good will can actually be misunderstood if it shows up at work in a blown kiss.

Good will expressed at work happens in other ways. In writing formal letters and e-notes it often shows up at the end in the complimentary close right before the signature and which some people reduce to one word "Best" and others write out "Best regards" and still others write, "Yours truly" and sometimes, "Sincerely."  However, I have never cottoned to that word "Sincerely" as a complimentary close for it refers to an odd state of emotional integrity that asserts in one word  "I mean what I say" and one assumes that others always mean what they say.  The same is true of blowing e-kisses.  Be careful out there.  On a certain kind of windy day--and you never know which way the wind will blow--those sincerely blown e-kisses could set off all kinds of alarms and a few fires.

Daphne's book about cooking for the one you love is called A Cookbook for Katie

Friday, January 6, 2017

Begin workplace documents where the reader's interest ignites--not when you began to think about it.

Nothing gets said more often by a frustrated person who needs to write a workplace document than “I don’t know where to begin!”

References will be made about fear of the blank page or maybe he or she will claim to have writer’s block.

Whatever the real cause or excuse for not knowing how to start a document, there is a way to think about beginning a document by remembering tiresome ways not to begin a document:

Start where the content of your information needs to be released not with a report of when you started thinking about how to organize it or your thought processes behind the document. Speakers and preachers often do this and throw away their best opportunity to connect with a listener by explaining why you have been thinking about a subject and how you plan to speak about it. When a speaker does that or a writer explains how he or she is going to express something and why you create a very big yawn in your reader that he or she struggles to stifle from then on out.  Keep the explanation of why you are going to write and how you came to write it to yourself.   Find the real beginning.

To find the beginning try writing that information down and then watch yourself shift to the content that you need to provide. It will show up on the page but perhaps not until page three or so.  Then, delete the very long preamble or explanation and start at the real beginning, where the content that needs to be shared or released takes hold.

Learning to recognize where that beginning exists in your writing process will solve that mystery of where to begin for many other documents that you will need to produce for we each have an organizing pattern that is a part of our own process, and the more you write the more familiar you will become with your pattern of organization.

Start writing, and write towards the truthful beginning.  That beginning is where you think the reader will find his or her starting point of interest--not a report of when and how you began to think about writing the document.

Daphne's latest book is Christmas in Fountain City

How to write a thank-you note for work

Do you write thank-you notes these days?

Most people don’t, but they are still vitally needed in professional situations especially.

Expressions of gratitude don’t need to be as formally crafted as Thomas Jefferson might have written one on a piece of personalized stationary, but in professional settings they should appear in a timely way on company letterhead, especially if the gratitude being expressed is for a requested donation of goods and services for some kind of charitable event.

Three considerations to keep in mind when taking the time to be courteous:
1.       They should be written to the liaison who arranged for the contribution and any other person involved in the delivery of the contribution should be acknowledged in the body of that letter. 
2.       The company’s name should also be stated as part of the thank-you note because the company will often contribute to a cause or foundation in order to build good will in the community.  That good will doesn’t grow unless the company’s name is recognized.
3.       The amount or type of gift or action should be expressly named because thank-you letters become part of the documentation that companies needs to keep records and report actions to others who are trusting them to fulfill these tasks with integrity.

Satisfying the urge or need to say thank you in other ways will often backfire if they don’t provide the needed documentation, seem carelessly written, or lack the professionalism that others expect in their workplace colleagues. Here are three ways not to send a thank-you note for a gift or contribution:

1.  A text message sent only to the liaison of the gift places the liaison in a very uncomfortable position of looking as if he/she stole the company’s glory—hijacked the good will and reputation the company deserves.   

2.  Sending only a text message to the liaison will determine whether that person will be eager to play ambassador again.  He or she won’t because it puts his/her job or reputation in jeopardy.

3.  The same content used in a direct message on Facebook or an email doesn’t serve the receiving party well either.  Why?  It doesn’t provide the good will that the company needs or the tool the board or the people responsible for making the decision to give need in order to prove that the monies or goods were put to worthwhile use.  The thank-you note functions as a kind of documentation for the board, and without it, the board or other management members have only word of mouth.   Making a one-size fits all Facebook update post adding the names of the contributors doesn’t do the job of saying thank-you either.  It isn’t personal, and hoping that announcement will reach all of the people responsible for making the gift is cavalier and ill considered.

Writing a real thank-you note takes the carelessness out of other ways that people try to quickly say thanks without taking the time to say it thoughtfully, carefully, in ways that can be shared with all the people who had a vote in how to be generous for the good of all involved.

If you haven’t sent a thank-you note or letter lately, consider why not. Then, resolve that in order to work more harmoniously with others, taking the time to say thank you in all the ways that you can and in the ways where it is required more formally is worth the investment of your time and words.

Daphne's latest book is Christmas in Fountain City