Posts Tagged ‘twitter’

Did You Get What You Wanted?

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

girl-with-presentsSuccessful personal brands spend much time exploring their psyches and behaviors to arrive at a position that will be enduring, profitable, and satisfying. After all, your brand must be authentic, easy to communicate, and welcome in the tribes you select to lead or at least be among. A personal brand must embrace who you are now, the origins of your life you want to bring forward in your career, and give you stretch goals so you have a destination to keep you moving forward.

Your qualities and values matter

It is not so easy to identify qualities that will last a lifetime.  But it’s worth the time to agonize over; because it’s your qualities and values that matter wherever you go. We career coaches now talk about your having 5 to 15 careers, which is sometimes comforting – let’s say you hate your current job – or daunting – perhaps you fear your knowledge, approach or skill set will become outdated.

I counsel my coaching clients to think of themselves as fractions, not integers. You are not just a consultant or employee. You may be both, or even more fractions of your whole working day or life. You may be writer, blogger, web series star, media pundit, seminar leader, industry opinion maker, and oh the list goes on. Just like you would diversify an investment portfolio, you must diversify the ways you make your fortune.

Your brain may now be screaming: I can’t do all that at once. I’m not a dollar that can be broken into several coins; I’m a person with only so much time. Stop hurling birds using a catapult at a nest of explosives, or whatever games you play on your so-called smart phone. Convince your brain you want to get ahead, not kill time or birds.

On the journey of your life, the one thing for sure you will take with you is: you. You will lose jobs, outlive pets, and undoubtedly some of your loved ones, survive friends becoming enemies, and you may even go to war against the one you love now. In life and work, loss is going to come your way, on the way to your making gains. It’s who you are that matters through it all, because that’s the basis of who you can become. And that outcome should be good for you, in every way.

Consider what qualities will sustain you. What are you going to look back and say, it’s because I was (fill in the blank) that I was able to (fill in the blank). Actually, I was able to do (fill in 15 blanks).

Sure with personal brands, you need to get attention, ignite emotional connections and remain indelible in the minds of your tribe in order to leverage your brand for life. The brand you sell to others shouldn’t be one you have to sell to yourself. It should be yourself. Then, just add a hefty dose of resourcefulness and resilience, a nose for opportunity and a desire to work hard, and smart.

Getting what you want isn’t just reserved for Christmas. Although, I do hope Santa, or the bearer of gifts in your culture, was good to you this year.

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Narcissism: The New Normal

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

mouth-coveredToneCheck.com provides an email plug-in that flags sentences with words or phrases that may convey unintended emotion or tone, then helps you re-write them. I was kidding about that when weeks ago I introduced you to SocialMediaSobrietyTest.com. It’s an opt-in service that requires users of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube or Tumblr, to go through a series of online co-ordination tests before allowing access those services.

True email screening

Well, now email screening of your screaming is no joke. ToneCheck is here and employers are happy to see it. Not only does it stop hate, anger, sarcasm, rudeness and other negative comments from making their way from your screen onto servers elsewhere – it also embargoes the overly happy, ebullient messages you might send. After all, who wants you to document your appreciation for a vendor that pulled out the stops and produced a miracle for your company, if 90 days later you’re trying to find a way not to pay the bill?

Of course, the world won’t be completely whitewashed. For now you can still get a giggle when you pull up TextsFromLastNight.com, which allows you to read or report some of the dumb smart phone SMS messages you or someone else has thumbed.

Watch your mouth

Funny as these digital bloopers are to read, what you are saying and sending is no joke. Twice this week, I had to send messages to people I work with, telling them to delete among other things: the f-word and a comment that was meant to express disappointment about the Dream Act, with the unfortunate choice of words: “bomb them.” As we know from the Tribune Company’s innovation officer – who sent around pornography as part of a “frat house” mentality, poor judgment is an equal opportunity parasite on the careers of us all. That’s also something I called to your attention a few weeks back. It may explain why the Tribune is in bankruptcy, too much free time for the top executives.

If I’m calling these folks out on it, you can only imagine how many people are quietly disgusted with the ugly verbiage and the people throwing it around. But, it’s going to get worse. We’ve entered the new normal of narcissism, where the world and media is all about you and largely from you. After all, you tag yourself on your pictures, you make comments on them, and you go up on Facebook largely to see what’s been said about you or to you.

Enough about me – what do you think about me?

Narcissism has just been removed from the official list of personality disorders that therapists can treat (and insurers reimburse). Apparently, we’ve outgrown our concern about narcissism, which is on the spectrum to sociopathy. It’s no longer an aberration, because so many of us have it as a “quality.” This now pervasive quality previously was a serious psychiatric condition that we know is destructive to relationships with family, work, community, and society. Now, it’s okay! Who needs empathy anyway? It just gets in the way of increasing the value of shares.

We are in for a firehose of hedonism that inevitably will destroy what could have been called polite society. But, as long as we are hanging on to that fallacy, we can stick ToneCheck on your email, to give you a second chance to rephrase that angry missive – or overly affectionate one – that you are creating on company time.

Casual dress, professional behavior

I blame the demise of civilization not on the Internet, but on casual Fridays. A zillion years ago, I remember arriving at the office of my attorney on the first casual Friday I encountered. There was a sign on the reception desk: “Our dress is casual but our behavior is professional.” I silently added: “And, your fees are astronomical.” Then my attorney appeared with his middle-aged gut, wearing a polo shirt and jeans. He still charged me $550 an hour, with no discount for not showing up in a pressed dress shirt, silk tie, tailored pants and suit jacket. It was a long case and I suspect he saved enough on clothes and dry cleaning to retire early.

Personal brands: do you really want to be doing what seemingly everyone else is doing? Do you want to be identified with swear words, casually throw around hate language, tell us how “sick” your new bike is, and where you went with your “ho?” Do you want your so-called friends to be posting trash on your threads so your employer, prospective employer or client can see it? And, no your privacy settings don’t protect you.

Consider where you can or can’t go with the language you speak. And, I don’t mean it’s time to learn something new like Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish, or French. Let your first language be your best language.

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Where Have All the Elves Gone?

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

AA004822I had plenty of “they should get coal in their Christmas stockings,” thoughts when it comes to customer no-service at Macys, Bloomingdales, Mercedes Benz, and the City of Beverly Hills with its pothole on Sunset, as I was attempting to finish my holiday shopping on Sunday. I started out with a reasonable budget of money, time and patience. I was worn down and pretty shocked by day’s end.

Similar stories

You are probably having similar experiences, whether you are shopping or just running errands around this time of year.

What strikes me the hardest is the contrast between the “haves ” versus the “not haves.” Not when it comes to the attitude of billionaires versus the rest of us. The hardest attitude to stomach is from people who have work, especially holiday employment. In large measure, the people who have jobs don’t seem to be happy about working.  How can this be, when there are so many people who are out of work right now?

Haves and have-nots

I am an ardent advocate for working people at all levels, in part because I am the daughter of a milkman and a homemaker. I worked three jobs to put myself through UCLA from the age of sixteen. Believe me, I understand the service sector job stress. I worked in admitting on overnights at the UCLA emergency room, sold class notes during the day, and had a stint as an activity coordinator for the local board and care home for mentally ill patients – while I was earning my degree. Sleep was optional.
I have always worked for a living, and been glad for the work even when it was hard and my feet and smile were tired. I am disappointed in myself because now I am finally in agreement with nearly everyone else on how horribly consumers are treated.

Succinctly put, as my fiancé said after listening to my Sunday ordeal: “Service is just terrible these days. No one is nice and it’s nearly impossible to get someone to help you if you’re looking for something at a store.” What feels shameful about our attitude is that we both come from backgrounds where there weren’t money trees in the backyard. We are not “Good help is hard to find people.” We are “Get this economy going so everyone can take care of their family and build their careers” people.

How are you doing on either side of the buying and selling or service relationship? Are you snarling at anyone at work? Are you diffident about whether someone buys something from your company? Do you resent answering some version of the question: “Could you look to see if you have any more in the back?”

Every moment counts

You may not be under the best working conditions right now. You may wish you were home by the fire or skiing in the Alps. You might be like me where taking off Christmas Day and New Years Day will suffice as my winter vacation this year – so every free minute counts.
I know we are not elves, born to be happy toiling all day and night. I do know if we are in business, either for ourselves or someone else – we are lucky to have work.  And, that attitude should show up when you do.

Consider that every time a sales person is rude to a customer, we all lose one more chance to build companies that will survive, much less thrive. Consider what you do on the job may be sucking the life out of your company, your customers and this economy.
Even if you are far from Santa’s workshop in the North Pole: try to make magic in this economy – just by pleasantly doing your job. Smiling shouldn’t be reserved for payday.

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No kidding: There’s Danger in Anger

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

TeenAngerCynicism, hostility, and anger are going to kill you. Actually, if they don’t kill you, they will definitely kill your career. Or, if you don’t have a career, these three demons may be what’s killing your chance of getting a job offer.

Demons that kill your chance

Author Redford Williams’ book, Anger Kills, documents how heart disease, blood pressure, and assorted health risks correlate with what I think can be distilled down to one word: hate. Now you probably don’t think of yourself as a hater. You think you are simply impatient. You think you are just smarter, faster and better at doing whatever it is you that irks you about waiting in a line or not being picked to lead that new project. Maybe you don’t think a word comes out of your boss’s mouth that isn’t stupid. After all, we all know that the higher up the ladder, the less in touch with what’s happening on the ground – and you may be the guy on the ground.

It’s an odd time of year to be talking about hate, anger, cynicism, and hostility. Isn’t it the Grinch who stole Christmas – and you like Christmas! The time off, the drinks, the office party (which is making a small sized comeback this year)…oh and the end of the year review where you’re told your bonus this year is you have a job next year. Some bonus.

If there ever were a good time to talk about your darker side, this is surprisingly a great time for two reasons.

Holiday’s darkside

One, everyone else believes that no one is hiring, promoting, or even working during the last two weeks of the year. So, that means if you are looking for work or looking to trade up the ladder or looking for a freelance gig, you have the least competition that you will see until next year around the holidays. Yes, pretty much everyone else has kicked it. But, if you are making calls on December 24, guess who will be in the office? The boss, certainly if he or she is a business owner. That’s when we get our work done along with New Years Eve day, weekends, and all the official holidays. The assistants and receptionists are home under the mistletoe or at Best Buy. So, calls come directly into our offices.

Two, you are about to make some sort of New Year’s resolutions. Oh, you might not make them official. But your brain feels one door closing and is looking to see what other doors you might open. So, it’s a good time to give you brain a really serious talking-to.

I had a coaching client in the office last Friday. Joanna had great experience in marketing and advertising. She had gone back to school to get a degree in interior design. She is now credentialed, capable, and experienced to create environments for brands, so consumers and prospects can experience the brand personality. This plays to hotels, museums, pop-up stores – the list is nearly endless.

What’s stopping her? Why is she only getting to the third and fourth stage of every job opening set up by her recruiter? I didn’t know, because she is so perfect in almost every way. So, then I had her talk about her past job experiences to me. Although she is a lovely person, she goes through her resume with a witty but catty, cynical or sarcastic comment on each job or boss. Each one accompanies the reasons why the company is great but there’s always this whiplash – always funny – but always angry.

Did she know that? No. Not at all. I might as well have told her she had a turnip on her nose. She had no idea. She didn’t even feel angry – it was just her “sense of humor.”

Discover what’s killing you

Her homework now is to write all of that down. Then, tear it up and throw it away. Her next assignment is to write down pages and pages of why she loved each job, what she learned and why she admires the people she worked with and for.

If you can’t afford any other gift for yourself this holiday, give yourself the gift of time. Write away the thoughts that are killing you. Then, celebrate all that you’ve had and all you will.

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Your Personal Branding Trinity

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

868auditoriumIf you have been following this Tuesday column over the last two weeks, you know we are considering the trinity of personal branding:

Attention

Emotion

Memory

Get Attention: Raise your hand, say something insightful and move the gaze of the audience to you. I do this everyday on the LinkedIn discussion groups that I tend during my 20-minute per day regimen of social media maintenance for my personal brand. To keep it interesting, I belong to 26 groups and I let the emailed discussion updates drive my participation.

Most often, I seek out posts that I can take a contrary position to. I use a very polite tone. I approach the topic with salient facts and typically cite a recognized source so it appears I am just weighing in – not arguing. Every single time I do, another member of that group sends a request to be a connection of mine – and they almost always write a note that tells me what I said that made them want to reach out.  About every fifth time, someone in the thread mentions me by name; often acknowledging that I am a pivot point in the direction the thread was going. Super ROI, because it’s always people that I want in my “tribe,” which is why I’m in those groups.

Test out different methods

I test different methods for social media success all the time. In the last two months, this approach to LinkedIn posting is how I am getting the most positive attention from my target markets. You might try it in your groups and see if it gets you the type of attention you require for your business goals.

Ignite Emotion: Be generous, share your resources and get the crowd rooting for you. My area of expertise is communication. I watch for discussions and posts where I can offer some of my intellectual property (IP).

Recently I offered to send anyone in the group a list of values that form the foundation of a personal brand. Whatever I’ve offered, I tell them what their subject line should say so I know what to send. Every single time at least one person has reached out to request what I’ve got. This open-hearted, open-handed sharing ignites a positive emotional connection, and we continue to dialogue. Often this results in a business relationship I otherwise would never have. So far, the only downside seems to be erectile dysfunction spam, which is easy to recognize and ignore.

Developing IP is part of my work because I teach, train and write. I continually research and develop new material that I use in my coaching and consulting practice. You might not have those demands (and benefits) for your work, but you may want to take stock of what you know. I use Evernote to collect and organize all the bits I glean from a variety of sources during the week. Every Sunday afternoon I take some time to gaze at it, kind of like looking at tea leaves. Inevitably I have a light bulb moment that I jot down, and that helps form a new piece of IP that I can share in many ways.

A link to another thought-leader’s material that’s on point would also work, although that says more about your interest in a topic than your expertise.

Be Memorable: Stick with one topic, stay in your authentic voice and be relentless. I persist in propounding there is no problem that cannot be solved by people having superior communication skills. I concede that an earthquake can level a city, but I insist we are all safer if we can say clearly, crisply and compellingly what we need to put society back together. When people think about me, they remember that I encourage them to use their words to tell their stories and get exactly what they want.

In social media forums, I don’t stray from that position: I talk about communication in all its forms. That includes learning what to say to successfully make career transitions, get media coverage, develop sales, attract business deals, produce best selling books, create successful teams, and more.

From my earliest recollection, I have been engaged in reading, writing, grammar, and later: the sociology of conversation, linguistics, media, speech writing and delivery, sales presentations, advertising and marketing, broadcasting, publishing, and just about anything that has to do with the power of language. I don’t have to remember what I’m representing – it is in my bones.

What is it that we remember about the authentic you? What is it that indelibly defines you in our minds? What word, job opening, consulting gig, or life opportunity would immediately pop your name into our brains?

Consider what your personal trinity is.

  • Why are you getting our attention?
  • How are you making emotional connections?
  • What personal brand are you burning in our brains?

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Emoticon: Emotion

Monday, November 29th, 2010

emotioconpillowsYou may be thumbs up when it comes to flashing a smiley face or any of the canned emoticons that functionally do nothing for your personal brand image. Emoticons are the equivalent of wearing the same dress or jacket everyone wears. My mother who was a fashion designer had an expression for that: “You see yourself coming and going.” In other words: you’re just like everyone else. Or, worse for personal brands: you are like ANYONE else.

You become a commodity

Not that it’s a fatal error to slip in a snoozing or tearful emoticon from time to time, but it certainly speaks to a lack of effort on your part – or a lack of language skills. Consider this: no one ever woke up in the morning and said, “I hope I get a message with a tiny yellow circle comically trying to express how my friend truly feels.” In fact, our subconscious sees red, and whispers to our conscious brain: “Ouch. Here’s a person using the absolute minimum effort to acknowledge our presence on earth.”

The “Like” button, if you use it consistently to respond to our posts, has the equivalent dismissive effect.

These minimalist efforts are equivalent to a man driving home at 7 PM on Valentine’s Day and in a slap dash, half-hearted attempt to show up with something – anything – so it doesn’t look like he’s forgotten his supposed sweetheart, buys a bouquet of flowers from the guy on the median strip at the last intersection before making it home. The problem is your sweetheart takes the same route home and knows how little effort you made.  Nothing would have been a better choice.

Why do you care if we see how much – or how little – you care?

Because like attracts like: you get what you give. At best, you become “better than nothing.”

I have a housekeeper whom I silently call Ms. Half-Measure. I know she will do the minimum possible to keep the house from crawling away. I have slowly downgraded my expectations to: “Well, at least I can say the house is vacuumed.” I actually learned that coping strategy in therapy. When the earth rotates enough times and the universe pops up someone else – anyone else, I’ll replace her.

Are you the half-measure person?

Is that who you are at work as a consultant or employee? Would we only refer business to you if you were the last accountant on earth? In fact, the most common request I hear when I’m at a gathering with small business owners is: “Do you know a good accountant?” No one ever does. We all have accountants, and it’s not that they’re incompetent. It’s just that they routinely do the minimum required, typically at the last possible moment.

If you have ever met someone loyal to a professional, company or brand – you know the sound of a deep and abiding emotional connection: it’s an evangelist witnessing for the best (fill in the blank) ever.

“OMG, I love my dry cleaners!”

“This is the best book I ever read!”

“You have got to meet my post production guy, he’s a genius!”

“I work with this amazing art director, she actually reads the copy!”

Personal brands: that’s who you are looking to be: a much celebrated resource. If you get our attention, the next step is to make our hearts swell up with pride that we know you.

A celebrated resource

Consider what emotional connections are you making. How do we feel when it’s your name or number that shows up on the phone? How often are you the first person we dial when something significant – good or bad – happens?

There are only three things you need to do, in order to be a go-to personal brand.

  • Spark our attention
  • Ignite our emotion
  • Indelibly burn into our memory

If your thumbs aren’t up to that, consider Skype with video chat so we can actually see your smiling face.

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Personal Brands: Here’s Why You Exist

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

george_clooneyWhat does it take for a personal brand – or any brand – to exist in the hearts and minds of your audience or target market?

Attention

Emotion

Memory

That’s it. That’s the big secret. That’s personal branding in three words.

The personal branding equation

Let’s tackle the first part of the personal brand equation: attention. You can’t be successful if you can’t get attention. But, it’s not just any kind of attention you want. You – or your brand image – must be associated with a heart warming feeling, figuratively and literally speaking.

Let’s consider the difference between a waiter accidentally dropping plates and sending them crashing in an upscale restaurant versus George Clooney walking into one. As diners, we turn our attention to both events. One is irritating and one is a delightful surprise.

Even if you don’t like Clooney and feel irritated about the paparazzi lurking outside, who will mark your lack of celebrity by putting down their cameras, it is a kind of personal endorsement that he is choosing the same restaurant you did, because he could and does eat anywhere on the planet.

In fact, it’s hard not to take Clooney’s appearance personally. Your brain does all this work for you, as it does 98% of its job: in your subconscious, out of your control. Yes, only 2% of your brain’s work is done under your direction: on the surface of the deep ocean you live in, unseen to us and you, with the possible exception of what your dreams might be trying to bubble up to the surface.

Our brains pay attention and makes meaning, as much as they can, by taking in what happens in the environment around us, and integrating that with anything potential relevant we’re storing in our associative networks.

The center of our universe

You are not the center of our universe, but you are part of our environment: we the people with whom you work, bump into or otherwise interact. The marks of your personal brand, both online and on-ground are dots on the landscape we inhabit.

For example, your Facebook updates are a huge interruption, albeit one we agreed to when we consented to being your so-called friend. If we find something self-referencing in your posts, something that we can relate to, aspire to or find a surprising and delightful connection to – you are a good interruption – you get positive attention credits.

It’s like George Clooney walking into the restaurant where we’re having dinner. Because his personal brand is cool in kind of a Sinatra rat pack way, his presence elevates the vibe. When you arrive, do you elevate the vibe or suck out its sense of cool?

Have you considered what people think and feel when you walk into a room? Would you get a rousing welcome at Cheers or the deflating reception that a cooler gets when he stands by a successful gambler in Las Vegas?

Consider how we feel when we see your comments on LinkedIn. Do we think, hey, that was really smart! Or do we think: what a disappointment: another doofus made us go look when we got the email saying there was a new post on that discussion. Your waste-of-our-time comment is “Jack, you make a good point.” You go down in flames when it comes to getting our attention. So does your personal brand reputation. Your brand becomes “what a waste of time.” Ouch!

We not only dislike you, we dislike ourselves by association – and that’s all assigned to your brand. Your underwhelming performance sets the bar lower for all of us, but not as in a Club Med limbo, limbo, limbo amazing flexibility way. A superfluous comment makes you a doofus, but so are we for being on the same thread with such a doofus. You not only give us a bad name, but also this discussion, maybe this group and even LinkedIn.

Is that how you are mishandling our attention?

Spend the week measuring the type of attention you get. Look at the comments that follow yours on discussion threads. Is your contribution ignored, and does the discussion go on irrespective of what you said? Or, did five people look you up and ask you to be a connection, because you said something that grabbed their attention and got them to think the three little words we all want to hear in business: Tell me more (about you).

In similar fashion, measure the response you get when people are on the phone with you. Are they glad to hear from you? Do they seek your guidance? Do they feel lucky you called? Or, are they too busy to take your call?

Measure what happens when you get into a meeting. Is the air more electric? Is there a sense of expectation? Does the discussion get richer, do more people join in, or are you a cooler, sending the energy plummeting and the texting soaring?

Personal brands: check the attention units you get this week. It’s like keeping a food diary so a nutritionist can figure out why you are tired, fat or ill-nourished.

Next week we evaluate your emotion appeal. And, finally we’ll evaluate just how memorable you are.

This could be the breakthrough you’ve needed to assess the evidence of what your personal brand is actually doing in the environment. If you like metaphors –a big part of emotional connection, ask yourself: are you the irritating plastic bottles littering the beach, or the sparkle on the tips of ocean waves rising with the tide?

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Personal Brands: You Texted Who?

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

textingMy very good friend and client, who is a corporate team-building trainer, celebrated her birthday last weekend – really celebrated it. With a half-dozen equally hot, smart and funny women in a limo, cruising from club to club, she rang in her personal new year getting smashed. She was ripe for it, since she is almost always the designated driver.

What happens in text, doesn’t always stay only on your phone

Who knew this typically suited up, buttoned down professional could ride a mechanical bull that way? Who knew she was a former gymnast and could easily ace the can-you-pole-dance challenge?

She used her smart phone to help those of us who couldn’t make it, enjoy the show. She captured her hi-jinks in photos, and texted them with a hysterical running commentary of what she was doing – and what she was thinking.

Smart phones are not so smart

Unfortunately, it turned out she really wasn’t thinking. And, the phone? Turned out it isn’t so smart.

Guess who got the texts, along with her inner circle, the crowd of would-be revelers rooting her on? A client.

Enough said.

Did you have that sinking feeling in your stomach? Have you done it? Join the crowd.

Personal brands: the smart phone is a weapon of self-destruction.

So many of us have been DWT – drunk while texting, there’s a new website that’s becoming a Wikipedia of oops-by-text.

http://www.textsfromlastnight.com

To contribute your personal favorites: Text TFLN

In a kind of drunken-texters anonymous, you may now report on yourself, or any one of your contacts. You’ll be contributing to a community that sinned in the same way or been on the receiving end of a sinful text.

There’s not yet a phone app to stop you from betraying yourself, but there is something for the nights when you are drunk with your laptop. It’s Webroot’s new Firefox plugin called “The Social Media Sobriety Test.” The service is aptly described by its tagline, “Nothing good happens online after 1 a.m.”

Before you can Facebook or Tumblr away your dignity, the service intervenes with a short test – like typing the alphabet backwards – to block or unblock your access to your reputation. Undoubtedly, we are just a short while away from a mobile app.

The reputation app

From my fiefdom of business communication, I hope the next killer app will scan our texts and emails for anger, stupidity and any other “quality” we’d like to keep from contaminating our personal brand images.  Won’t it be great to have a “suggest changes” function that proposes phrases that instantly transform rude into concerned, and dumb into curious? Way more valuable than spell check.

Until then, figure out a method – maybe the old sleep on it before you send it – to act as your thought police.

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