Yearly Archives: 2016

Softening the blow when you deliver bad news

All business owners need to deliver bad news. You may need to give a reprimand, remind a staff member about policies and procedures, say ‘no’ to a prospective client, inform job applicants that they weren’t successful, or any number of potentially bad news messages. Bad news is not an absolute: it’s interpreted differently by different […]

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In sentences: put together ideas that belong together

Sentences with awkward or confusing structure – particularly sentences that separate ideas that should be kept together – create all sorts of problems for readers. Sometimes they lead to misunderstandings that can undermine the purpose of their document. Sometimes they cause the reader to trip – which slows reading, creates momentary confusion, and draws attention […]

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Long live the singular they

I’m currently enjoying Steven Pinker’s excellent 2014 book ‘The sense of style: The thinking person’s guide to writing in the 21st century’. But there’s something about Pinker’s writing style that’s a great irritation to my Australian sense of style. In each chapter, Pinker alternates the gender of his imagined readers and writers. Early in the […]

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Why writing is like cooking

I love a good metaphor. And in my new life as café-owning writer, I can’t help but see the metaphorical parallels between writing and cooking. As a writer, I’m confident in my ability to turn out (reasonably) good copy, on time, every time. My confidence comes from my understanding of my writing processes. I know […]

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Making messages that are understandable and noticeable

I’m fascinated by why it is that some people notice and understand messages and other people miss them. Yesterday, a new customer walked into my shop and ordered a coffee and some breakfast. After placing his order, he quietly offered me some feedback about our signage: ‘I’ve been working over the road for several weeks, […]

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