Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Keep it Simple and Sweet !

The second day of the 5-day management course which I am attending currently at MIM proved to be even more eventful. I was again had to spend almost 2 hours in the car to reach MIM building in Jalan Ampang and as a result, was late again. I left the house at slightly past 7.20am and only arrived at the destination at 10 minutes after nine. For some reason today, there was a massive traffic jam at almost everywhere in KL as I heard it from the radio. Nonetheless, alhamdulillah, I finally made it and as I expected, I was not the only one who was late today.

Today is the second and the final day for the Business Writing module presented by Mr. John Hagedorn. It is just the continuation of yesterday's lesson and I found it to be even more interesting. We learnt many things today and most importantly, when we are writing a business letter, the following is the golden rules to follow.
1. Only write what you need to write. Don't be emotional and just present the facts.
2. Readers are not impressed with big words or 'stuffy' sentences. Keep it simple and sweet.

To help us in understanding and in applying the two tips above, Mr Hagedorn introduced a technique he calls 'ACT Attack'. I like to rename this technique to MR ACT based on this simplification.

M-Message. Determine what is the message that we want to deliver to the reader
R-Respond. Visualise the response of the reader after reading our letter. The response can be in many form such as angry, surprised confused, doubtful and etc.
A-Approach. Determine what kind of approach we want to use in our message. Response can be direct for good news, or indirect for bad news. But somtimes approach can also be direct for bad news as in the situation of asking compensation.
C-Content. In our letter, maximize the 'you' pronoun, positive ideas and reader benefits. Minimize the we, I, us usage as well as negative connotations.
T-Tone. Element of style that will set the tone of the letter such as sincerity, simplicity, courtesy, coherence and correctness.

In the classroom we were asked to analyse several business letters using the technique above and what I can conclude from this exercise is that the use of such technique does help in creating a good letter. We were also shown some common grammatical errors and were asked to do a 15-question quiz to choose correct sentences. I only managed 11 out 15 and that proves that I still have a lot to learn.

The highlight of Mr Hagedorn class is an assignment that we have to complete by 16 February. The assignment is to reply to a letter from a TNB customer who is asking compensation for the monetory damage he suffered after TNB disconnected his electricity supply due to late payment. This is one tough nut to crack but insha'allah, I should be able to do it before the dateline.

Mr. Hagedorn class ended at about 5pm. On personal level, I think he did a great job in creating interest for us to learn about writing business letters. I also beleive that such course should be offered to all executive in this company as soon as they reported duty. Well, in my case, that only happened after almost 20 years in service !

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