Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Blogging: Not for the faint of heart   4 comments

I am struggling. My fledgling blog is now more than four months old. I have lots of ideas for blog posts. I’ve been invited to guest blog on more than one occasion. Readership is low, but I occasionally get attention from unexpected places. So what’s the problem?

I’m exhausted. Of course, as with most moms who are working full-time, exhaustion is a normal state of existence. Every week I end up writing late at night to make my arbitrary, self-imposed editorial deadline.

It’s not all fun. I enjoy thinking and writing. I do not enjoy digging up a suitable, Creative Commons-blessed photo to accompany every post (which is why I skipped it on vacation). While I occasionally break this rule I try not to as people tend to feel more engaged when there’s a photo.

I know I can do better. I am certainly not writing to my full potential or my own editorial standards (which I admit are higher than most), which is highly frustrating.

So why bother with the blog?

It’s calming. My world allows me few creative outlets these days so this is one medium that allows me to clear my head of many of the thoughts that are rattling around.

It’s a point of pride.  Seeing that list of completed posts grow each month is a very satisfying feeling and as is being able to count myself as a blogger (albeit a newbie one)

Professional growth. Writing the blog forces me to sit and really think about the topics of the day. What DO I think about Google+? It helps me focus my thoughts and form opinions that might otherwise have remained mostly dormant.

To compromise between my desire to express myself and my desire to salvage what’s left of my sanity I am changing this to a bi-weekly or even monthly blog. We shall see. I have decided that blogging is great, but living my real life is better. So is sleep.

Image credit: viralbus via Flickr

Beating a dead horse: 3 email etiquette pet peeves   Leave a comment

Email etiquette<Thwap!>

<Thwap!>

Ladies and gentlemen, that is the sound of me beating a dead horse.

<Thwap!>

I don’t want to do it any more than you probably want me to do it. But it must be done. These issues persist so I feel compelled to vent my anger bring these on-going issues to light. What am I talking about? Which dead horse am I beating? It is none other than…

…wait for it…

email etiquette. <cue large sigh>

Yes, we are once again (and still) discussing the rights and wrongs, the dos and don’ts, the ins and outs of email etiquette. Keep in mind that this diatribe is geared towards a business audience (if you use Outlook, this means YOU). Like all things, the rules can be bent with friends and certain relations. So without further ado I bring you my latest woes and recommendations for the betterment of all geek-kind.

  1. STOP WRITING ENTIRE SENTENCES IN ALL CAPS! NOW! See what I did there? Wasn’t fun, was it? It’s not any more enjoyable when the subject line of every email I receive from you IS IN ALL CAPS. Doesn’t make me answer any faster either. In fact, due to the involuntary wince that occurs every time I see your email I avoid it. So stop.
  2. Please write a subject line that tells me something about why you are contacting me. Blank subject lines, or things like “hey” or “Help!” or “marketing question” tell me nothing and once again do not inspire me to jump to your aid (okay, the “help!” one would–if I didn’t have half a dozen others just like it sitting in my Inbox). Help me help you: be descriptive in your subject line.
  3. Consider your recipient’s point of view. This where the “rational communicator” in me really comes out. It doesn’t matter what you intended (“I didn’t mean for it to come across that way.”). What matters is how your reader will interpret it. The point of email is to communicate and communication is a two-way street. Otherwise you’re just, um, blogging. BONUS TIP: If you get called out because someone took something the wrong way, just apologize for the misunderstanding and…stop. No excuses, or reasons, or defenses. You’re done at the apology. Move on.

Whew! That felt good. Now I can step off my soap box, stop beating this dead horse, <insert additional appropriate cliché here>, and continue about my life.

What email etiquette faux pas do you continue to see on a regular basis?

Image credit: AnnabelVita via Flickr

Posted September 2, 2011 by Lindsay N. Ball in Communication

AGAIN?? Facebook privacy options change–this time for the better   1 comment

Facebook icon

Shock of all shockers Facebook is changing their privacy and sharing options again. Normally this is the time for a collective groan. However, this time is different. I’m actually looking forward to some of the updates. The predicted changes could actually make you more secure, while being easier to use. Here’s how.

Facebook icon For starters, you have to actively approve tagged photos of yourself. The fun part is that your coworker (who may not be a Facebook friend) can tag photos of you from the company picnic, but you still have to approve that tagging before it goes live. And if it is a very, ahem, unflattering photo you can send a note directly through the system to request that the photo be taken down altogether.

Facebook icon Another cool feature seems like it was inspired by Google+. Sharing things on your Wall with certain will now be simpler with “public,” “friends, and “other” sections. It is similar to Google’s Circles concept where you can categorize contacts to your heart’s desire and then share information to those circles as you see fit. Google still comes out ahead on the ease of setting up these circles/groups/cliques/whatever, but it’s nice to see this option simplified.

SFacebook iconimilar to being able to assign a Wall post to a particular group is being able to edit every piece of your profile right there on your profile page. Right on your page, without having to traipse through a number of confusing menus, you’ll be given the option to make each section viewable to a large or select crowd.

These aren’t the only features I like, but they are at the top of the list. What I can say is that nothing on the list of changes made me cringe. While some things I will use more than others, they are all changes for the better.

Facebook icon So if you’re a grandmother who only logs into Facebook to see photos of her grandbabies or if your life is a wide open book and you don’t care who sees anything you say then many of these changes will not be significant for you. But if you fall somewhere in the middle like me then there are some definite improvements here. These changes are beginning to roll out as of today, so if you see it check it out and let me know what you think!

Check out these additional resources for excellent information, screen shots and analysis on the changes:

Image credit: lawtonchiles via Flickr

Posted August 26, 2011 by Lindsay N. Ball in Communication

Welcome to the Rational Communicator!   3 comments

I was seven the first time I asked Santa for a computer. I know because my mother recently sent me the Christmas list she saved all these years. Not only that, but apparently I had been wanting one for “years” already. I saved up my allowance for months and bought a Nintendo when I was 10. Clearly technology has always been a fascination of mine. Combine that with the thousands of hours I’ve spent with my nose in a book and it now seems inevitable that I would one day have a blog.

Why a blog?
I often find myself with more thoughts rattling around in my head than I know what to do with. In particular, I find there are many things I want to say about marketing, communication, social media and business in general. So this is my outlet, a place to organize my thoughts (and get them out of my head!). If people find it useful, all the better!

Lindsay circa 1984

Lindsay circa 1984

Great, so who are you?
I’m finding that it’s much easier to write about business than it is to write about myself! In addition to being a Michael Jackson fan from an early age  (as evidenced by the photo at right), here are some basics about me that will flavor this blog. I am an in-betweener, a social mutt if you will, a mix of a number of disparate influences. For example:

  • I grew up in the South, went to college on the East Coast and now, thanks to a convoluted series of events, live on the West Coast.
  • Depending on whom you ask I am either a very young member of Generation X or one of the first members of Generation Y. I find that neither label suits me. I like to think I have good qualities from the stereotype of each generation, namely the inherent tech skills of my younger brethren and the pragmatism of my elder kin.
  • Despite having a prestigious business degree I took a non-traditional path after college. No consulting firms or investment banks for me! And yet somehow I’ve survived and then some.

I’m still listening. So why “rational” communicator?
I define a rational communicator not only as someone who thinks before they speak, but also someone who communicates with the recipient in mind. Through all of my experiences, my journeys, and my travels, the number one thing that fascinates me is communication, especially written communication. I love words and I see the power of effective communication. I also see and experience the havoc poor communication can wreak, especially in a business setting. My aim when communicating, particularly in the workplace, is to be understood by my audience.

Communication is a broad topic though so to narrow it down I’m throwing in a couple of my other favorite things: marketing and social media. If you’re up for joining me as I explore these topics from the perspective of an in-betweener striving to advance her career while attempting to maintain her sanity then I am glad to have you along. Please note that a healthy dose of dry humor will often be involved.

As a professional communicator I am always interested to hear other people’s thoughts and look forward to hearing yours.