Monday, April 02, 2012

Art of Words or War Of Words

Army brat Ronie Kendig grew up learning to roll with the punches, including countless moves and educational disruptions that forced her to make friends fast. At 19 she married the hunk of her dreams, an Army veteran. Together, she and her husband have four children. She has a BS in Psychology, speaks to various groups, volunteers with the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and mentors new writers. Rapid-Fire Fiction, her brand, is exemplified through her novels Dead Reckoning, a spy thriller, and the military thriller series, The Discarded Heroes, which includes Nightshade (Retailer’s Choice Award Finalist, IRCA finalist), Digitalis (INSPY Award finalist), Wolfsbane, and Firethorn (4.5 stars from Romantic Times). Ronie's military thriller novella, Whole Pieces, releases May 1st in the 7 Hours Omnibus through Tyndale House Publisher's Digital First initiative!

 Ronie can be found at, Facebook, and Twitter!

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With one twist of a single word, an innocent comment on Facebook explodes into a diatribe, the meaning completely misconstrued. With a poorly phrased email, relationships have collapsed. A friendship can be shattered. All too quickly negotiations become ‘aggressive’ (a fight!). 

I’ve heard it a thousand times over—email does not communicate tone. 

I disagree. 

There is definitely a tone in every email because your psychological state of mind at the time commands the way you write the sentences and the words you choose. Now, whether the tone conveyed is the one the writer intended . . . that’s different. It’s very easy to zap off an email without thinking through how the other person might receive the email. 

  Since authors and readers are thrust together through social media, I’ve found it crucial to carefully navigate the social media world. I spent three years as a moderator and List Hostess for the (at the time) American Christian Fiction Writers’ main e-loop. Part of my job required sending reminders to members whose posts did not fit within the stated guidelines for the loop. This was a very delicate and often precarious task. If not carefully worded, the reminder could offend or create a maelstrom of hard feelings. Thus, I became a master at diplomacy—words can sever a relationship or strengthen it in very powerful ways. 

Be craftsmen with your words. Here are a few tricks I’ve learned over the years through a business English course I took in college and my years serving ACFW as List Hostess/moderator: 

  1. Avoid the use of “you” (which tends to feel like pointing fingers) as much as possible. It’s easy to say “You did this and you were wrong. What were you thinking?” But that puts the reader on the defensive. Lower their defenses by tweaking the wording. “This happened, and this was the result . . .” 
  2. Stick with the facts; refrain from opinion. By presenting inarguable facts (i.e.: Guideline 99r states . . . ), the reader is informed and your message does not become an “us against them” conversation. 
  3. Be firm yet gentle. Depending on the severity of the infraction, the reminders had an escalation process. Grace was extended as much as possible. But remember to stick with facts.
  4. Pad the bad news. Always allow a buffer before and after the “bad news.” The purpose here is to open the email in a way that does not raise the defenses, then to close the email on a positive note. 
  5. Open & Close on a positive note – Most people will remember the first and last thing said to them. If you open and close your email, letter, or response on a positive note, then the feeling is softened a bit. 
Remember: A gentle answer turns away wrath. Use every opportunity to present yourself in the best possible light with your words. That doesn't mean be artificial. It means, quite simply, put your best foot forward--put your best word forward.

Do you have a tip that helps you? Please share! 

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Ronie's latest title, Firethorn (Discarded Heroes #4) is the conclusion to the Discarded Heroes series! Order now!

Blown & dismantled, Nightshade is read to repay the favor!

4 1/2 stars!!! Romantic Times "…exciting, adrenaline-pumping prose that will catapult you right out of your easy chair. Oh, but keep the Kleenex close by for the tears.” ~Chandra McNeil, reviewer

Can a covert operative and the felon she’s freed overcome their mutual distrust long enough to save Nightshade? Will anything prepare them for who—or what is coming?


Ane Mulligan said...

This is a good post for life and writing! If I want to know how to have a character do ti wrong, I it all backwards. LOL

Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

ROFLOL...considering that my fingers move faster than my brains, I think my most prevalent problem is misspelling words. They can wind up as a total embarrassment, especially when they are also real words...or "bad" ones! Great post Ronie!

Ronie Kendig said...

Thanks, ladies! Great comment--Bonnie. I agree. :-D That happens a lot. Or the missing word. Where you meant to say "not" and the "not is missing, changing the entire message. LOL Oops!

Brandi said...

Writers can certainly benefit from this in all areas where communication is concercened. I especially like how you mentioned starting and ending on a positive note. It's human to zero in on the negative, but saying something good helps combat that.

Ronie Kendig said...

You're so right, Brandi. Nobody likes getting bad/negative news, so I try to structure messages the way I would want it to read if the positions were reversed.

Janice C Johnson said...

In October of 2010 I blogged about this very thing. The three-part series was about public online interaction rather than email, but I would recommend the same principles for either. In a nutshell, keep responses relevant, respectful and logical.
(Comment is linked to Part 1 if you want to read the series.)