FEATURE: Acknowledgmentslittle notes that mean a lot
SPOTLIGHT: EditPros and clients in the news
NET NOTES: Captivating web sites
Those of us who were fortunate enough to win the approval of a teacher in school likely remember the pleasure of earning a gold star or receiving a note that said, "Good job!" The feeling of satisfaction that you derived probably endured much longer than the time required for the teacher to write the note or stick the star on your paper.
Ironically, the lesson of recognizing achievement was probably of much greater importance than knowing the year of the Louisiana Purchase (1803). Unfortunately, it's a lesson that many adults forget faster than the state capital of Maine (Augusta).
Acknowledgment can take many forms, just as the word "acknowledgment" has several meanings. It can refer to acceptance or agreement of terms; a favorable comment about an act or achievement; an affirmationthat a package arrived or that an order was received; or a declaration of gratitude.
The "thank you" note can be a powerful means of expression of gratitude that exerts influence on far more than just the immediate subject matter of the note itself. A sincere "thank you" note not only tells someone that you received and appreciate a gift or a favor, but also reveals the conviction behind your words; you thought enough of someone's gift or efforts to take the time to express your gratitude in writing.
Tell the recipient how much you enjoy a gift, or where you'll display it, or how it will always remind you of your visit together. Slide the computer keyboard aside and jot a note in your own handwriting. A computer-generated "thank you" note appears phonyeven more so when an executive crosses out honorific title salutations such as "Dear Mr. and Mrs. Peabody" and writes in "Bob and Betty." If the letter writer wishes to address them as "Bob and Betty," it should be written that way in the first place. Rather than distinguishing the recipients from "ordinary" people, the "executive crossout" is indicative of a form letter. It is a contrived and transparently beguiling practice.
The use of acknowledgment in the sense of confirmationthat a package or electronic file has been received, for instanceis declining. That's particularly disturbing in light of the numerous communication options at our disposal today. With the prevalence of voice mail, pagers, e-mail and good old traditional mail, failure to acknowledge receipt of materials is simply inexcusable.
If Harry sends an e-mail message to Sally and attaches a photo of himself standing in front of the world's largest ball of barbed wire (in Jackson, Wyoming), he is uncertain whether or not she received the message and photo unless she sends him an acknowledgment. A simple e-mail message would suffice. Sally could write, "I received the photo you sent. Thanks for thinking of me. But why were you wearing lederhosen in Wyoming?" Harry might not have a satisfactory explanation for the lederhosen, but at least he'd know that Sally received the photo. When you receive something, whether it's a gift, a report or just a message of greeting, acknowledge it promptlythe same day if confirming receipt of an e-mail message, and within no more than a couple of days for materials received by mail or courier.
Another form of acknowledgment, recognition of the efforts of an employee or volunteer, is a powerful motivational technique. While public recognitionin speeches, for exampleis commonly used, it can potentially create animosity among people whose efforts remain unrecognized. A personal note of acknowledgment eliminates that problem.
Such a note can be brief, but should be specific. Although you can incorporate some common "boilerplate" language when writing notes to several employees who participated in an activity, be sure to cite specific tasks that the recipient performedfor example: "Our Rutabaga Roast was a tremendous success, thanks in large part to your efforts. The crowns you created for the rutabaga queen and king were truly inventive. I had no idea that rutabaga roots could be carved so intricately. Your work reminds us that we do, indeed, have an exceptionally talented group of employees." That tells the recipient that you really did notice his or her contributions.
And if you're ever a contestant on a television game show and you win the grand prize by knowing the year of the Louisiana Purchase, be sure to send a "thank you" note to your teacher.
EditPros writers start column for Sacramento Business Journal
EditPros partners Jeff March and Marti Smiley Childs have begun writing a recurring column for the Sacramento Business Journal. Titled "Write Angle," the column is devoted to business writing. Discussion topics include points of grammar, persuasive techniques, writing styles, syntax (word order), composition organization, semantics (word choice and shades of meaning), and other nuances of written expression. It is published about once per month in the "Small Biz" section of the weekly newspaper.
The column made its debut in the print version of the paper on July 20. "Write Angle" and other Business Journal columns and articles are accessible at http://sacramento.bcentral.com/sacramento/ on the Web.
Tired of Telephone Solicitation?
You're sitting down to dinner and the telephone rings. After a brief silence on the other end, you hear the hum of "boiler room" voices. If you don't hang up in time, you're trapped by an annoying sales pitch while your dinner cools. This site, maintained by Californians Against Telephone Solicitation, gives you tips on how to deal with telemarketers, including a sample script of what to say when they call. It also includes a section on those equally annoying "junk faxes" and what you can do about them.
Dictionary Includes Top 10 Languages
This site contains links to 1,800 dictionaries and thesaurus references for more than 250 languages. Yourdictionary.com has been featured in numerous major news media outlets, including the New York Times, CNN, Wall Street Journal, London Times, and London Daily Mail. According to yourdictionary.com, more than half of the 7,000 languages and dialects spoken on Earth are nearly extinct. This site offers an "Endangered Language Repository" to help preserve imperiled languages. It also contains links to specialty dictionaries in the areas of law, business, finance, medicine, computing and sports, as well as grammar references for English and other languages. The corporate office for yourdictionary.com is located in Danville, Calif.
This site contains a database of guides to 4,329 cities in 150 countries. You can search by city name or country. If you're traveling to Ann Arbor, Mich., for example, and you'd like to find out where to stay and what to do, you would select USA, click on Michigan, and then on Ann Arbor. The Ann Arbor Convention and Visitors' Bureau will pop up and give you the information you need. Internationally, you could select, for example, Ireland, then Baltimore (West Cork). The Web site for West cork Baltimore gives information on the city's heritage, where to go, what to do and where to stay. The site is maintained by WorldArtists.
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