As If We Never Said Goodbye

Interviewing & Meetings

Master the art of small talk with senior people: comment about a shared experience (weather, sports, weekend); keep it light and general; ask open-ended questions.

Hey, I’m Talking Here

Office Etiquette

Have respect at meetings: put electronics away and turn off sound notifications; if you are expecting an interruption, tell the person in charge in advance; show respect by listening and responding

You Never Tell Me Anything

Interpersonal Relations

What happens when your boss denies you a day off? You’re entitled to some work/life balance: make sure your request and approval for time off is in writing, try to be fair about your plans based on your team’s workflow, be assertive if something really matters to you.

Bad Email Contest Results

Email & Voice Mail

Thanks to all of you who responded to the Bad Email Contest.  There were some terrific rewrites, but I should remind many of our readers that the passive voice should not be used (stet). Before I announce the winners, let’s review the email and address some of the main blunders:

Subject: Hi Peter!

@Peter- our Sales Department reached out about scheduling a high-level during the November timeframe on premise. Attached is a questionnaire about potential topics which is proprietary in nature.  Please action and advise and don’t hesitate to reach out to Sam and I.

Best Regards,


The subject line:  I’m a friendly guy, but “Hi Peter!” doesn’t tell me what I need to know or do.

@Peter: Not everyone has seen this Twitter salutation and many who have think it’s too informal and kind of bizarre for an email.  Save it for Twitter only.

reach out: This phrase has become viral in some organizations.  I’d save “reach out” for emergencies (e.g., “Please reach out to your neighbors the next time you feel a pang of loss for your dear departed ferret, Shep.”

high-level:  You can interpret this anyway you want, and that’s the problem.  If you mean to refer to a senior staff meeting just say so.

timeframe:  Way too redundant; “November” itself is a timeframe.

on premise: Even though the person means “in our office,” which is more specific anyway, I’ve seen people use this phrase when they really mean “on premises.”

which:  “Which” is always preceded by a comma when it introduces a non-restrictive clause and should always be next to what it modifies, which in this case is “questionnaire” not “topics.”

proprietary in nature:  As opposed to in captivity?

action:  Is not nor will it ever be a verb.  Ever.

advise:  Also viral in organizations, but it is very unspecific.  Advise about what?  Whether I should take an umbrella?

to Sam and I:  Review your notes from elementary school. “I” never comes after a preposition.

Best Regards:  Only capitalize the first letter of the first word of your close.


1. The only caveat on the winning entry–there’s no due date mentioned in the subject or email body:

Subject: Potential Topics for Nov Sales Meeting

Hi, Peter,

Sales would like to schedule a strategy meeting here in the office in November. Attached is a confidential list of potential topics for your review. If you have anything to add, don’t hesitate to send it to Sam and me.

Best regards,


2.  I hate potty humor, but this is one of the lowest order:

Yo Peter, sales department is in the toilet. idea constipation of the highest order. Creatiive production needed ASAP. They are looking for some relief. Use discretion. They need to have movement by november.

Count the Bad, Over-The-Top, Nonverbal Communication Blunders

Presentations Skills

See Joann mess up during her presentation. Bad stance. Bad hair. Bad facial expressions. Bad gestures. Bad eye contact. Bad body language.

Bad Email Contest

Email & Voice Mail

Sorry for the long absence, but I thought I’d return with a contest.  Below is an email containing several words and phrases that make me cringe.  Your challenge is to re-write the email so it’s clear and concise.  If you want to have more fun, you can also re-write the email so it’s even worse.  Click on the blog link to submit your posts.

I’ll announce the winners of the best and worst emails in my next blog entry along with my reasons for hating some of the things you see below. Stay tuned for a new video next week.  Good luck!

Subject: Hi Peter!

@Peter- our Sales Department reached out about scheduling a high-level during the November timeframe on premise. Attached is a questionnaire about potential topics which is proprietary in nature.  Please action and advise and don’t hesitate to reach out to Sam and I.

Best Regards,


The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave

Interpersonal Relations

What do you do when a coworker won’t leave you alone?  You deserve to work in peace: change the pattern (turn away, stand up, excuse yourself), take or make a call, chat for a minute, then say, “I wish I could chat more, but I have to get this done by noon.”

Can we talk it through?

Interpersonal Relations

Some people tolerate conflict better than others. I personally don’t like it. I’m happiest when I can talk through tension and misunderstanding and hear the other person’s point of view, and try to put language to my own. But getting to that moment isn’t easy. Both people need to have an interest in reaching understanding and resolution. Feelings of anger and hurt feelings can incline us to retaliate. Retaliation propels the cycle of anger and hurt feelings.
My brother often says “at the end of the day, Jo, you have to look at the man in the mirror.” This is where you ask yourself, and answer honestly: “Did I behave like an adult today? I can’t control anyone else, but did I conduct myself in a way that I am proud of, and can be at peace with?”
If you are honest about your thoughts and feelings, you can build on them and move through them.
So take a deep breath. Pick up the phone or knock on the office door. And think about how you can make things better.

So, What Do You Recommend???

Presentations Skills

Think strategically for your manager when you’re asked to research options: assess what matters most; come prepared with a recommendation, action plan, and a backup: keep track of all the details

Prepare prework for premeetings

Email & Voice Mail

Presently a preponderance of even preeminent people prattle on about “pre-approving a pre-plan and pre-notifying pre the pre-screen.” This presumably pressingly prevalent and predominant preprogramming is preposterous.

A preferable precedent is to prevent and preempt them from “pre-announcing” with a “pre-read” to get “pre-buy-in.” It isn’t pretty.

Can this be prevented? Precisely how prescriptive I can be is a predicament. Be prewarned: I can’t pretend not to be prejudiced, yet don’t want to prejudge or be pretentious. Predictably my precept and premise presuppose:

1. preference for precision
2. preview prerequisite
3. precipitous loss of prewords

Presto! You’ve prepared an unprecedented presentation.

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