Topic 4. Asking for Details / Clearing Up

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Topic 4. Asking for Details / Clearing Up

I. General

Business E-mailing, intercom

Tips to keep in mind when communicating from a distance

1. Username & Image

 When choosing a user name, think of the image you want to project with it – even on your close friends. Remember it is part of your personality and is meant to cut some figure in other people’s eyes

Read an extract from Scarpetta by P.Cornwell where a detective team is analyzing why they did not prevented a crime reported a month before via email by Terry, an undergraduate student, who wrote under nickname Lunasee. Explain why the email passed unanswered and unnoticed.

Terri’s is Lunasee, and we should look at those e-mails first. …

“Why would a forensic psychology graduate student pick a username like that?” Berger said. “Seems extremely insensitive to make an allusion to lunatics or lunacy or any other disparagement from the Dark Ages. In fact, it’s worse than insensitive, it’s cold-blooded”…

“Obviously, you never got this”, Lucy said.

“Sent to New York City Government-dot-org from someone who called herself Lunasee?” Berger replied. “I wouldn’t get that in a million years.”

Practicum 4.1

What is your username, what other names would you like to assume, why?

Start with Subject line

Become an expert in summarizing the content of your e-mail in a few words on the subject line. It helps people prioritize their response and find the message afterwards. A few tips to keep in mind here:

-be specific. Rather than ‘Your advice needed’, make it ‘Advice on transport needed’

-change the subject. When you reply to a message but want to introduce a new subject, don’t forget to change the subject line. Otherwise it might be confusing and makes filing difficult

L. Brennan. Business Etiquette for the 21st Century

Practicum 4.2

Take your last 10 e-mails and improve them for the Subject line

E-mail Style

-Use a written-conversation style. To sign off, people tend to say Speak to you later / Look forward to seeing you / Thanks or simply finish the message and write the name. If you do write a more formal message, then match the sign-off to the salutation Dear Mr.N will be matched with Yours sincerely / faithfully.

Particularly in large organizations, it’s helpful to include your name with your return e-mail address. It’s also useful to add a signature block: six lines at the end of your e-mail that contain your department or function, your telephone and fax numbers and, if necessary, your full address

L. Brennan. Business Etiquette for the 21st Century

Practicum 4.3

Suggest the layout for a formal letter of request to your professor / would-be partner / foreign professor / library abroad

Interpreting the Message

In e-mailing between different cultures, think about what you say and how you say it. There might be breakdowns in communication and team spirit in multinational companies. By simply leaving the humour out of the Brits’ e-mails and asking Scandinavians add please to their requests rather than issuing commands, the communication and team spirit might improve dramatically within a very short space of time

Practicum 4.4

Relate the above tips to your cultural practices

Before You Hit Send

If you are angry or upset with a person, you may well spend ten minutes writing an e-mail venting your feelings. Do not hit ‘send’ in anger.

When you are e-mailing, always ensure you are polite, that you check spelling – it is so easy to miss out words or type gobbledygook when you are rushing.

Be discreet: never e-mail sensitive or really confidential information. A recipient could be embarrassed if a confidential message got misrouted.

Be concise – numbered bullet points enable people to read an e-mail quickly and is appreciated

Practicum 4.5

Which of the above tips do you follow, which don’t? Why?

Practicum 4.6

E-mail an application to a conference on the linguistic problems you are interested in; your colleague asking for contacts with the publishers’

Practicum 4.7

Translate into English the key writing guidelines

Key 1

Первая строка вашего письма должна быть самой «ударной». Необходимо сразу же завладеть вниманием читателя, иначе ваше письмо отправится прямиком в мусорную корзину. Начало письма либо «цепляет» читателя, либо оставляет равнодушным. Фактически читатель принимает решение на основании первых несколько строк.

Key 2

Посвящайте как минимум 80% времени составлению вступительных фраз и обязательно формулируйте их так, чтобы они «зацепили» читателя.


Practicum 4.8

Suggest a 40 word’s long introduction to a letter to your research advisor / to your professor of English whose classes you are going to miss for family reasons / to your prospective respondent you are going to engage in your research as a native speaker consultant.

Practicum 4.9

Study the communication strategy of Asking for Details

Step1 Indicate that you are in the context of the problem and show your interest
Step 2 Ask your partner for details to get the full picture
Step 3 Now that you have the full picture try to suggest a way to solve the problem, offer advice

Practicum 4.10

Arrange Asking for Details vocabulary in 3 groups relating to 3 steps of communication strategy (some stock phrases can refer to more than one step) , e.g.

Step 1 Step 2 Step 3
I see now what the issue is Could you be more explicit on the recent developments in What if we try

Let us try and clear up the matter

I’d like to ask you about

I am interested what

Could you please explain what is meant by

Could you tell me what / why / who / where / when

What does … mean

I was wondering if you could

What would you do if

I suggest we / N should / did

If I were you I’d

I’d rather you did

II. Asking for Details Practice

Practicum 4.11

You are to arrive at a decision; youmiss essential points and ask for details

-on how to write a cover sheet letter to a potential employer

-to make sure you know where the corporate event is taking place / the way to your affiliate where you are to deliver papers

-on whereabouts of the PA

-about your responsibilities as a PA / HR assistant / PR assistant / office manager / sales manager

Practicum 4.12

Ask for details in writing to your colleague asking about accommodation, travel details and public catering in London

Text 4a

The extracts to follow deal in talking office politics / policies. Study and use them as a starting point for communication

Extract 1. On-Site Training

When talking to people and especially teaching them we have to rely on the Learning Theory guidelines concerning various facets of the process: mind set, well-planned learning environment

Mind Set

However hard we try to keep trainee recall high, the enemy is Mind Set. When people hear or see something that clashes with their beliefs or values, they experience Cognitive Dissonance. Because of the discomfort caused by this dissonance, they will either justify their present beliefs/behaviour or distort the new information so that it no longer challenges their 'world view'. Some famous people have been victims of their mind set!

Faced with inevitable and totally natural problems of mind set, we trainers must help our trainees to overcome the discomfort caused by cognitive dissonance. We must start from their point of view – for example: faced with a salesperson whose mind set is 'I should be out selling, not listening to this nonsense', you should concentrate on how your course can help her sell more.

Practicum 4.12

What argument can you think of for a 'dinosaur' trainee whose mind set is 'our present system has worked very well up to now'? / to overcome the following mind set: 'What can this upstart teach me; s/he's half my age!'?

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