By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston
Syntax Training, $24.95, 436 pages
Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, a business writing expert, has written a book that at first will have the reader questioning the content. Frankly, does “heart” belong in the business world? Is it not just about profits, takeovers and meeting those deadlines? According to Gaertner-Johnston, one can have all of those attributes if people stop and really analyze their communications. She contends that building relationships, positive ones, can lead to success in the workplace. She believes that if communication is written with a positive intent and friendly in nature, it will create the positive relationships that will propel work success. The book is divided into five information-packed sections which include Essentials, Opportunities, Challenges, Action Plan and Recommended References.
“Writing With Heart = Writing with respect and positive intent, using language that makes those feelings clear.”
Gaertner-Johnston begins with a very strong case for why writing with thought and care can make or break one’s career. Each example is a very likely excuse why the reader might think they do not need to write with “heart.” By the end of the chapter, there is no doubt the reader will be sold on the concept! The Essentials chapter offers negative words and phrases that destroy relationships and then provides positive words so that the reader can really understand what the author means. Positive intent is another strong formula in Business Writing With Heart and there are numerous examples and revised communications to demonstrate the author’s point. There are also key tips bolded for the reader. All chapters end with a Personal Reflection and Next Step section. After all, it is one thing to read about it, but changing behavior is what will make a difference!
The Opportunities chapter focuses on messages that often get overlooked. For example, thank-yous, feedback, congratulations and even acknowledging a death are mentioned with numerous effective examples to use and emulate. But the author does not stop there; she also provides insight on introductions (think e-mail and LinkedIn), job search communication, holiday greetings and various other social situations. One of the items this reviewer really liked about this book is that although it is focused on written communication, the suggestions can easily be used in verbal situations.
In the Challenges chapter, topics such as apologies, sharing bad news, saying “no,” disagreeing, gentle reminding, anger and constructive feedback are covered extensively. There are tons of examples, tips and how-tos to make any uncomfortable situation a little easier to plan and construct. There is also a chapter about communicating around the globe. The Take Action chapter is littered with good advice and ideas to bring the concepts in the book to life. This reviewer was most appreciative of the chapter outlining how to address letter greetings and envelopes because it is comprehensive and easy to follow. Business Writing With Heart is an indispensable guide to work communications. There are easy-to-read tables, tips, examples and stories. Your business writing (and business relationships) will never be the same again if you choose to integrate even a few of the sound pieces of advice that fills this thorough, informative book!
Reviewed by Seniye Groff