Simple and Specific: The Key to Understanding in Your Writing

You might think that being too specific in your communications might confuse busy readers or distract audiences but it’s quite the opposite. Using simple language and being appropriately specific in your descriptions have been proven to increase understanding and retention. Here are some examples: • Memorable: “The man proceeded down the street.” “The tall man […]

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My issue with “issue”? No problem. 

Problems. Difficulties. Complications. Obstacles. Disputes. Solid words but not used much anymore. Now everything is an “issue,” and I’m so grateful to Carina Chocano who wrote about this brilliantly in the New York Times Magazine (July 23, 2017). “Almost any difficulty, conflict or threat will feel less pressing as soon as you’ve reduced it to […]

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Seattle’s International Exchanges Spur Growth, Citizen Diplomacy and Friendships

World Learning is a respected non-profit that has, for decades, coordinated international exchanges and educational programs for students and entrepreneurs around the world. They asked me to write a series of articles, like the one here, to promote the benefits of these exchanges to Americans. From economic growth and business partnerships to cultural understanding, citizen diplomacy and lasting friendships –participating communities like Cleveland, Detroit, Seattle, and Tulsa are becoming welcoming centers of opportunity.

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11 Steps to Compose Clear, Concise & Effective Emails

The average office worker receives around 80 emails each day, and I’m sure many of you receive more than that. With so much to wade through, your audience – whether it’s one colleague or a slew of potential customers – needs you to get to the point and be immediately relevant. Here are some tips […]

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8 Words to Avoid When You Need to Talk About Yourself

First in a series: Words to Avoid We all know that in business, certain words get overused and become clichés. And in our highly connected world, it happens pretty darn fast. In some of these cases, and in other instances, some word choices are just not right, because they give the wrong impression. Here are […]

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Word Inflation:
 Amazing, epic, disruptive innovation

If every product change or new idea is amazing, epic, and disruptive, what happens when something really significant takes place? Yes, iTunes truly disrupted the music business… but how often do these kinds of revolutions really come along?

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Occupy: From Housewives to Wall Street

If you’ve ever thought about how fast our language – and therefore our culture – is changing, you only need a handful of random examples to prove the point. Writers, especially, must be keenly sensitive to these changes to remain relevant, or risk being dismissed outright. A clear example is “housewife.” Commonly used not long […]

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Get ’Em On Your Side: Framing Part Deux

The marketers of processed food and beverages, as well as alcohol and tobacco, have understood the framing challenge very well. Minimizing the health threats of their products, they reframed the issue as a defense of the public’s “right” to smoke and drink…and to feed junk food to their kids. “Don’t tell me what I can’t do,” is the common refrain. It’s a matter of choice, freedom and responsibility.

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Word Theft Means Getting Framed.

According to common wisdom in neuroscience, about 98 percent of our thoughts are unconscious and automatic, carried out by the neural system. We believe we think freely, but we actually don’t very much. The linguist Charles Fillmore said that all words are cognitively defined according to conceptual “frames” — structures we use to think and […]

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Selling Through Storytelling and The 4th Earl of Sandwich

The British politician and aristocrat John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, liked to play cards. But he also enjoyed eating a snack at the same time, and that tied up his hands and involved utensils. So, in 1748, he came up with a solution: he put beef between slices of toast, so he could eat with one hand and still play the game.

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