Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Face Book and Sick Days

I was talking to a young woman the other day who had gotten into trouble with her manager who read a posting she had put on Face Book on a day she was supposed to be home sick. She was genuinely ill with one of those loose wet colds that make you back away whenever the person is near. Bored with TV, she went onto Face Book. The manager (who read the innocuous comment after her shift was over) sent a snippy note to the effect that she was glad the young person was all better.

Recently, someone else lost their job for using Face Book on a sick day. Her posting, however, was a negative comment about her boss.

Is this the sign of the future? If you are away from work, should you be banned from using Face Book? Or only for saying certain things on it? What about your emails? Should you be forbidden from replying to emails when you are sick?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sometimes Words Are Just Words

I am glad to hear the government has put an end to trying to tinker with O Canada. I think the women who angrily demanded a rewrite of the words "in all our sons command" played right into the hands of the politicians. It allowed the Conservatives a break from working on the recession, war in Afghanistan, immigration, health care,etc. and drove the public's attention away from these issues.

Sometimes words are just words. Canada's anthem was written in French in 1880. It was translated into English in 1906. The lyrics have been rewritten twice since then taking their original form in 1980.

Yes, maybe the song should be rewritten but is now the time? I don't think many women really do feel excluded from the anthem because of "sons" being used in the universal sense.

Is there ever a time or a word that we should unite to change?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Writing and Einstein

The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Jerusalem is all excited. It is now showing Albert Einstein's document on relativity. The thing is -- this groundbreaking theory was handwritten -- all 46 pages.

Now Einstein certainly did not have access to a computer. But I wonder if any of our scientists today can legibly handwrite anything. Don't get me wrong. I love computers. But sometimes I think people start keyboarding a little too early in the writing process.

Good writing is all about good thinking. Jotting down a few points and organizing them on paper before you work with them on a computer really does short circuit the writing process. I pity people who don't understand this and have removed all paper from their desks.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Handwriting: a lost art

A few years ago, I met a woman who worked for the British Armed Forces. Her job is to listen to Morse code around the world. An outdated activity? Apparently, the thought is that if there is another major war, electronic communications could be blocked. Morse code would allow leaders to communicate with their troops and with other countries. So although many have no clue how to do it, morse code is still important.

What about handwriting? With computers and electronic devices is the art of penmanship vanishing? We are writing less and "blackberrying" more but shouldn't we at least try to be a little more legible? What will happen if for some reason we can't use an electronic means to record our thoughts?

Is penmanship still taught in schools? Should it be emphasized?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Immigrants and the English Language

I just heard a comedian on TV say, "Pity all those people who spend years learning English and then come to North America. They still don't understand us."

It's true. Many new immigrants have been taught a dated form of the British language, which doesn't always fit into our business world. In my experience, many immigrants have a better sense of progessive verbs. They can easily explain the differences between "I have received" and "I had received." However, North Americans don't really care. To keep things short, we just say "I received." There is nothing wrong with either phrasing. But it can be confusing.

I do pity any adult trying to learn English.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Business Writing and Professionalism

I have just spoken to a middle manager who had received negative feedback in her last job appraisal regarding her reports and emails. She was told her messages were not clear and often required more explanation.

The woman disagreed. She thought her writing was very professional. Her word choice and lenghty sentences showed she was highly educated and cultured.

In the business world is being professional about making yourself look good on paper?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Emails and Privacy

I understand that emails written by managers at Toyota are now being subpoened for an upcoming lawsuit. Why do people think that what they write in an email is private? It ends up in your sent box, on your server, on your receiver's server, in your reciever's inbox, etc. You can delete it from one place, but you will probably miss others.

Just recently, councillors at the City of Mississauga were all up in arms because they found out some designated members of city staff could review messages they sent and received on city-owned computers. Where have these people been hanging out?

The spoken language is diffuse. It can become a matter of he said/she said. Written words -- particularly those in emails -- can come back to haunt you and your business. It's important to watch what your write.