Talking Chairs
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9 misunderstood words and how to use the...

How often do you spot words that are used improperly? Maybe it’s “can” instead of “may” or “less” when “fewer” would be correct. Usage mistakes are common and can damage the credibility of your message and your organization. That’s why it’s important to know your definitions. Below are nine words with misunderstood and misused meanings. How many have you been using correctly? (Definitions and usage guidance came from Oxford Dictionaries, Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster.) 1. Complement Complement means to add to or complete. It can also mean the...
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3 improv exercises to improve communicat...

Inspiration comes to those who seek it. My most recent “ah-ha” moment came during an educational seminar my organization hosted for our physician clients. The topic was how to use improvisation techniques—spontaneity, collaboration and flexibility—to improve communication with patients and staff members (in my case, with co-workers and loved ones). In the same way that word games can improve your writing, improvisation techniques can improve your conversational and listening skills. Practice the techniques below with a partner and then try them at home or...
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21 alternatives to “opportunity...

Do you ever feel that you’re so acculturated in marketing and PR-speak that you use it in your non-work life? I recently attended a wedding in which the couple wrote their own vows. The groom began his recitation with this sentence: “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to marry you today.” To put this in perspective, the groom is an entrepreneur who lives and breathes marketing and client relations. So although that statement not surprising, it does speak to the pervasiveness of phrases such as, “I appreciate the opportunity to meet with you,” and,...
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11 ways to say it politely

As an unabashed word nerd visiting the United Kingdom, I was instantaneously struck by the differences between British English and American English (“luggage enquiries” versus “luggage inquiries” at the airport), but also by the general politeness of the country’s public signs. Whether by poetry, pun, or understated word play, these communicators know how to get their message across firmly and politely. Below are a few examples: “Please queue here.” “I’m a bin. Drop your liter in.” “Be a mate. Don’t block the gate.” “We have a selection of...
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Enough with the fluff

We know it when we see it: A writer’s attempt to sound smarter or make an article longer by adding fluff phrases. I estimate that these phrases make up at least 30 percent of the content I edit. The problem with all this fluff? It drives our readers away because many of them strive to read as little as possible of the messages we publish. Unnecessary phrases add to the noise readers are trying to filter out. Below are a few fluff phrases that — in most cases — can be eliminated from your content: As a matter of fact As you may already know At the present time/At...