9781457667077

Business Writing Scenarios

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781457667077

  • ISBN10:

    145766707X

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2/19/2016
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's

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Summary

Written by an experienced instructor of business writing courses, Business Writing Scenarios offers a hands on approach that immerses students in the types of writing situations they will encounter throughout their working lives. Detailed guidance and numerous examples help students build the skills they will need to respond to these situations effectively.

In each of the core chapters, students first learn how other writers addressed a particular writing situation—such as having to convey disappointing news to employees, explain a major policy change, or respond to a difficult customer—effectively or ineffectively. Students then apply what they’ve learned through guided activities ("applications") that ask them to respond in writing to a similar business scenario. Additionally, the book emphasizes the potentially serious consequences of ill-considered business communications, especially those delivered electronically. A chapter dedicated to business writing gaffes provides many real-world examples of these mistakes and advises students on how to avoid them.

Suitable for use on its own or in conjunction with another text, Business Writing Scenarios is a useful addition to any course building students business writing skills.

Author Biography

Jon R. Ramsey was an Associate Professor of English and the Dean of Studies at Skidmore College, from which he retired in 2004. His career in administration and teaching continued, however, through June 2014 at the University of California, Santa Barbara. At UCSB he was the Director of Policy and Publications for the Graduate Division and for eight years was a Continuing Lecturer in the UCSB Writing Program. He has published a number of articles and book chapters and has co-edited two books on literature, writing, and administrative issues. As an administrator and office director, he has been especially involved in creating and implementing new programs in the United States and abroad and in constructing a wide variety of policies, tasks which frequently required complex written negotiations with myriad internal and external audiences. He earned his B.A. at San Diego State University and a Ph.D. at the University of California, Riverside.

Table of Contents

Preface

1. The Purposes and Concepts of This Book

To become an effective business writer and colleague, you need to imagine your way inside a wide variety of business situations. This chapter explores the fundamentals of this approach.

Understanding the Nature of Business Writing

Previewing the Basics

An Example of Unspecific, Unfeeling Business Writing

An Example of Specific, Empathetic Business Writing

The Foundations of Effective Business Writing

Imagining Your Way inside of Business Situations

The Scenarios in This Book

Sample Scenario: A New Employee Introduces Herself

Sample Scenario: A Manger Politely Declines a Colleague’s Request

Writing to Build and Maintain Relationships

Choosing the Medium

Factors to Consider

Examples of Selection Strategies

Writing to Achieve Your Purpose—and Get Results

Responding to Real-World Writing Scenarios

Analyzing a Writing Scenario: Explaining a Workplace Disruption

The Challenges of Explaining the Disruption

An Ineffective Explanation of the Disruption

An Effective Explanation of the Disruption

Applying What You’ve Learned

Application 1-A: Explain a Workplace Disruption

An Effective Explanation of the Disruption

Analyzing a Writing Scenario: Responding to a Former Colleague

Who Wants Confidential Information

Applying What You’ve LearnedApplication 1-B: Respond to a Former Colleague Who Wants Confidential Information

Looking Ahead

2. An Overview of Business Writing
Before you begin composing any piece of business writing, you will need to consider your role and authority within the business organization, your purpose in writing, the audience you must reach, the strategy that is most likely to achieve the desired goal, and the best medium for your communication purposes. This chapter examines these important factors.

Understanding the Central Concerns of Business Writing

Seeing the Big Picture

Starting with You as Person, Employee, and Writer

Understand Your Level of Authority

Look before You Leap—and Stay Alert for Opportunities  

Familiarize Yourself with Your Organization’s Principles and Values

Keeping Your Purpose in Mind

Understanding Your Audience and Audience Psychology

Determining a Communication Strategy

The Importance of Evidence

The Importance of Tone

Paying Attention to Details

Using Clear Vocabulary 

Proofreading

Responding to Real-World Writing Scenarios

Analyzing a Writing Scenario: Explaining a Policy Change

A First-Draft Explanation of the Policy Change

A More Detailed Explanation of the Policy Change

Analyzing a Writing Scenario: Weighing the Costs and Benefits of Conciseness

A Brief, Formulaic E-mail

A More Developed E-mail: Example 1

A More Developed E-mail: Example 2

An E-mail That Offers Specifics and a Longer, More Detailed Document

Applying What You’ve Learned

Application 2-A: Inquire about Office-Space Needs

Application 2-B: Seek Volunteers for a Non-Profit Organization

Application 2-C: Coordinate Accounts Receivable Information

3. Résumés, Cover Letters, and the Job Search Process
Knowing how to draft an effective résumé and cover letter is key to your success in securing a position and advancing in your field. This chapter gives practical advice on creating these important documents—and on succeeding in the job search.

Understanding the Application Process 

Assessing Your Abilities: What Do You Have to Offer?

Investigate Campus Resources

Ask Yourself Questions

Identify Your Research Skills

Assembling Your Credentials

Finding Open Positions

Unadvertised Opportunities

Advertised Openings

Dos and Don’ts

Improving Your Odds in the Application Review Process

Surviving the First Cut

Increasing Your Chances of Success

Responding to Real-World Writing Scenarios

Analyzing a Writing Scenario: Crafting an Effective Résumé

A Problematic Résumé

Revisions to the Résumé

The Header

Career Objective

Education

Work Experience

Skills

References

The Final Product

Résumé Tips

Analyzing a Writing Scenario: Crafting an Effective Cover Letter

A Problematic Cover Letter

Revisions to the Cover Letter

The Letter Format

The Opening

The Middle Paragraphs

The Closing

Cover Letter Tips

Exploring Additional Examples of Résumés and Cover Letters

A Résumé and Cover Letter from a Liberal-Arts Student

A Résumé and Cover Letter from a Business/Economics Student

Applying What You’ve Learned

Application 3-A: Create Your Own Cover Letter and Résumé

Getting from the Application to Success

Following Up on Your Application Materials

Acing the Job Interview

Interview Tips

CHECKLIST: Overview of the Job Search

Starting and Pursuing a Rewarding Career

4. Business Document Design, Formats, and Conventions
As a business writer you want to create documents that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are easy to read and understand. This chapter covers design basics, as well as important document formats and conventions.

Understanding Key Features of Document Design

Previewing Design Basics

Melding Structure and Purpose

Elements of Effective Design

An Example of a Clearly Designed Memo

Why the Design Succeeds

Exploring Common Formats for Business Documents

The Business Letter

Standard E-mail Format

Common Memo Format

Incorporating Visual Materials into Your Text

Avoid Do-Nothing Graphics

Provide Context

Designing Longer Documents

Following Other Style and Format “Conventions”

Salutations, or “You Lost Me at Hello”

Type Size and Style

Margins

Text Breaks

Bullets

Pagination

Headers

Responding to Real-World Writing Scenarios

Analyzing a Writing Scenario: Improving a Poorly Crafted Memo

Applying What You’ve Learned

Application 4-A: Revise a Poorly Crafted Memo

5. Writing to Colleagues Within the Organization
It is important to address colleagues as valued partners in a shared enterprise. This style of communication will help foster a culture of cooperation, productivity, and respect that is crucial to any organization’s success.

Understanding the Challenges of Writing to Colleagues

Keeping Special Issues and Controversies in Mind

Respecting Co-workers across Business Cultures

Some Good News about Workplace Dynamics

Potential Consequences of Angry Communications

Responding to Discourteous Communications

Distinguishing Friends from Professional Colleagues

An Overly Casual Communication

A More Professional Communication

Conveying Negative News 

Negative News Pitfalls

Responding to Real-World Writing Scenarios

Analyzing a Writing Scenario: Conveying Bad News about a Holiday Gift

An Off-Putting Message about the Gift

A More Thoughtful Message

Analyzing a Writing Scenario: Conveying Bad News about Medical Benefits

The Background

The Basic Facts about the Benefits Changes

Advice on Conveying the News

An Effective Memo about the Benefits Changes

Applying What You’ve Learned

Application 5-A: Revise an Off-Putting Request for a Promotion

Application 5-B: Request Information about Office Supplies

Application 5-C: Revise a Poor Communication about Office Space

Application 5-D: Revise a Poor Communication about Child-Care Policies

Application 5-E: Revise a Poor Communication about Flexible Work Schedules

Application 5-F: Revise a Poor Communication about Holiday Office Coverage

Application 5-G: Revise a Poor Communication about Employee Parking

6. Writing to External Constituencies
External audiences with whom you communicate will view you as a representative of your organization, so it is important to make a good impression on them. This chapter will help you communicate effectively with such audiences, even under the most challenging circumstances.

Understanding the Challenges of Writing to External Audiences

Knowing That Word Gets Around 

The Pluses and Minuses of More Open Communications

Legal Implications of Problematic Communications

Principles of Respectful Communications

Providing Information Clearly and Persuasively

An Effective Response to an Information Request

An Ineffective Alternative

Keeping the Human Touch in Big-Business Communications

Avoiding Business Liabilities

Responding to Real-World Writing Scenarios

Analyzing a Writing Scenario: Responding to a Customer Complaint

The Complaint

One Effective Response to the Complaint

Another Effective Response to the Complaint

Applying What You’ve Learned

Application 6-A: Respond to an Information Request from a Potential Investor

Application 6-B: Write a Company Mission Statement

Application 6-C: Create a Return Policy for a Retail Store

Application 6-D: Resolve a Complaint about a Catering Fiasco

Application 6-E: Resolve a Complaint about Customer Service

Application 6-F: Revise an Angry Complaint about a Cleaning Service

Application 6-G: Revise a Letter That Delivers Bad News Insensitively

Application 6-H: Respond to a Request from a Privileged Alum

Application 6-I: Write a Rejection Letter

Application 6-J: Invite a Distinguished Guest to a Campus Event

Application 6-K: Dis-invite Participants to a Focus Group

Application 6-L: Reassure a Nervous Customer

Application 6-M: Buy Time in a Tricky Situation

Application 6-N: Request Permission from an External Constituency

Student Responses to Selected Applications 

7. More Complex Business Writing Projects
As you advance in your career, you may be called upon to develop longer, more complicated documents, such as grant proposals or business plans. This chapter will introduce you to the fundamentals of these more complex pieces of writing.

Understanding the Challenges of More Complex Writing Projects

Identifying Key Considerations of Complex Projects 

The Situation or Scenario

The Audience

Background Research and Preparation

Document Design

Previewing Longer Writing Projects

A Business-Travel Reimbursement Policy

An Ethics Advisory Memo

A Request for Proposals (RFP)

A Letter of Inquiry Preceding a Full Grant Proposal

A Grant Proposal

A Business Plan

Being an Effective Part of a Team

Responding to Real-World Writing Scenarios 

Application 7-A: Draft a Business-Travel Reimbursement Policy

Application 7-B: Write an Ethics Advisory Memo

Application 7-C: Write a Request for Proposals (RFP)

Application 7-D: Write a Letter of Inquiry Preceding a Full Grant Proposal

Application 7-E: Write a Grant Proposal

Application 7-F: Write a Business Plan for a Start-Up Company

Student Responses to Selected Applications

Response to Application 7-B: Write an Ethics Advisory Memo

Response to Application 7-C: Write a Request for Proposals (RFP)

Response to Application 7-D: Write a Letter of Inquiry Preceding a Full Grant Proposal

Response to Application 7-E: Write a Grant Proposal

Response to Application 7-F: Write a Business Plan for a Start-Up

8. Business Writing Gaffes in the Real World
Even highly experienced business professionals make communication errors at times, and you can also learn from their mistakes. This chapter provides examples of some especially glaring gaffes to avoid.

Reviewing Key Causes of Writing Gaffes

Touring a Gallery of Gaffes

Getting the Job the Wrong Way

Kicked out of Harvard

Dismissed as Admissions Dean

Fired as CEO of Yahoo! Inc.

Insulting Co-Workers

Issuing an Apology without Acknowledging Any Responsibility

Correcting the Record … Sort of

 “Spinning” a Bad Public-Relations Situation

E-mailing Your Way to a Legal Loss

E-mailing Your Way to Disgrace—and Bankruptcy

Confusing the Issue with Too Many Details

Sending an E-mail to the Wrong Recipient—and Jeopardizing a $1 Billion Settlement

Mass E-mailing Your Way to an Embarrassing Mistake

Mass E-mailing Your Way to a Financial Mess

Making Confidential Business Information Public (via E-mail)

Making Personal Information Public (via E-mail)

Writing in Code—with Potentially Detrimental Effects

Posting Your Way to Disgrace

Botching Communications from the Top: Hewlett-Packard

Botching Communications from the Top: Netflix

Making (Expensive) Punctuation Mistakes

Making Serious Social-Media Errors

Complaining about a Customer through Reddit

Complaining about a New Job on Twitter

Insulting a Key Client (and Others) on Twitter

Mixing Personal Expressions with Company Communications

Timing a Tweet Poorly

Exploiting a Bad Situation

Final Advice: Refer to Social-Media Guidelines

9. Leadership Values in Business Writing
In this chapter, we’ll take a closer look at leadership qualities that you can foster in yourself to become both a better communicator and a better colleague.

Reflecting on Leadership Values in Business Writing 

Realizing That Many Leadership Skills Can Be Learned

Reviewing Leadership Qualities

Clarity of Mind and a Commitment to Evidence-Based Decisions

A Commitment to Customer or Client Satisfaction

A Clear View of Long-Range Goals with a Readiness to Change

Equanimity in Troubled Times and an Ability to Operate above the Fray

A Willingness to Consider Others’ Ideas and Credit Their Contributions

Responding to Real-World Writing Scenarios

Application 9-A: Request Volunteer Help

Application 9-B: Get Buy-in on a Plan for New Software

Application 9-C: Convey Disappointing News about Health Benefits

 

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