Are You EFIN Kidding Me?

Added on by Karen Wilson.

I once worked for a company that used so many acronyms that I created an acronym for the acronyms. Without my cheat sheet I would have been lost.

I've always thought of acronyms as annoying, but recently I've discovered that they can also be EFIN funny, too! And this coming from the venerable and oh-so-serious IRS. EFIN stands for electronic filing identification number. You need this EFIN number to file your EFIN taxes. 

No EFIN joke!!

Being Real in Business and the Bottom Line

Added on by Karen Wilson.

Tantalizing headlines and hyperbolic statements are hard to resist when sharing business news with others. Social media has taught us that catchy titles and crazy stories attract viewers. But before you start marketing your business to get attention, consider whether you aim for short term or long term impact. 

Remember that person you used to know who always seemed to be the center of attention? Where are they today? Chances are they've either modified their behavior a lot or dropped out of sight altogether. 

Companies, too, are personalities.  The ones that scream "look at me" may do well for a short time, but eventually the audience (customer) moves on to the next flashy headline. Meanwhile, the steadfast companies resist the urge to use big and boastful language, aiming instead to create trust and loyalty. Good customers like authenticity and so does the bottom line.  


The Writing on the Wall

Added on by Karen Wilson.

Alibaba is ready to go public. This means they are looking to grow. I’ve been receiving emails from Alibaba for the past several years and I’ve learned one thing about this company: They don’t care about how they express themselves. They don’t care if you understand them or not. They don’t care about business English.

The writing is on the wall. Buyers beware.  

Forbid me, forbid me not, forbid me….

Added on by Karen Wilson.

Some writing has the same effect of fingernails scraping on a chalkboard. (What’s a chalkboard mom?) It is writing so absurd that the mind actually cringes.  It is writing so idiotic it should be forbidden.

Here’s an excerpt of a book description from a health food newspaper.

 “This short book is written as if a forbidden part of your mind were breaking all the rules by telling you the truth…So many of us are tormented by self-criticism, low self-worth, bad habits, resentment, rejection, inner emptiness or isolation…This is more than a fun and interesting book. Your Achilles Eel is based on science…The core concept in this book has been the subject of over 300 research papers published in medical journals. Amazingly, you have never heard of the authors!”

Can you hear those fingernails? 

Yooper Dooper!

Added on by Karen Wilson.

It took 10 years, and a lot of tenacity, but it finally paid off:  Yooper is now a term recognized by Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Question: What’s a Yooper? Answer:  a bad ass resident of one of the coolest places in the United States – Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  What was once a term used disparagingly is now associated with being resilient, neighborly, and having a strong work ethic. Congratulations Dad!

You see it, you hear it, you feel it

Added on by Karen Wilson.

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

― Mark Twain

Not only is lightning brighter and larger than a lightning bug, but it is also louder and can deliver physical impact. Language that lights up the mind and leaves an impression can start a revolution, change a person's behavior, drive success. Something this powerful should not be left in the hands of amateurs. 

- Karen Wilson, 2014


National Grammar Day

Added on by Karen Wilson.

From the website of Grammar Girl: Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

Language is something to celebrate, and March 4 is the perfect day to do it. It's not only a date, it's an imperative: March forth on March 4 to speak well, write well, and help others do the same!

For more information and fun Grammar Day activities visit

And just for fun...     

"Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.” 

― Winston Churchill

Humor trumps grammar any day.


Socially Awkward vs. Culturally Awkward

Added on by Karen Wilson.

A person who struggles to connect with others, who blunders in what he or she says and does, has a hard time making friends.

A company (especially one operating globally) that struggles to communicate with customers, that blunders in what information it shares and how it shares it, has a hard time winning customers.

Sounds similar? The difference is in the scale. While an individual interacts with a few people, a global company impacts tens of thousands or more.

Amen…Thank you Kyle!

Added on by Karen Wilson.

From the gospel of Kyle Wiens, writing in the Harvard Business Review Network, July 2012

But grammar is relevant for all companies. Yes, language is constantly changing, but that doesn't make grammar unimportant. Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And, for better or worse, people judge you if you can't tell the difference between their, there, and they're. (my italics)

To read the complete blog follow this link:

Dear Twitter:

Added on by Karen Wilson.

I know you want to be friends and I am sure there are things that I would like about you. First of all, many of my friends like you and tell me that a relationship with you could be good for me.

Here’s my problem: if we become friends, what will happen to my standards?

You see I love the English language and feel committed to highest quality communication. Yes, I know you’re all about communication too. It’s just that we don’t see eye to eye (or should I say i2i?). To be honest (tbh) I am shaking my head (smh) as I realize that you are probably not safe for work (nsfw).

I don’t want to rush into this relationship. Before joining the Twitosphere, let me weigh the risks and I’ll get back to you. In the meantime, HAND (have a nice day).

Yours truly,


For a list of Twitter terms and acronyms, follow this link:

Why Being the Largest Isn’t Always Best

Added on by Karen Wilson.

A Croatian tourism slogan claims that they have “The Second Largest Wall in the World.” Does this sound right to you? No? Why do you think it doesn’t work?

Can a wall be largest? Largest by what measure?  It can be the longest, widest, highest but not the largest.  Choose “large” to describe a house, a dog, a nose…you get the picture.  

Besides, who wants to be second anyway?

But this is in English!

Added on by Karen Wilson.

Anyone who has traveled to England or Canada, comfortable in their command of the English language, has most likely been caught off guard by words that did not make any sense. Yes, the person spoke English but the meaning got lost.

As Julian Walker points out in a recent article in Toastmaster magazine, “It’s important for people whose first language isn’t English to realize that even native English speakers have problems when moving to another country.”  So the next time you ask for a comforter in England don’t be surprised if you’re handed a pacifier.

The point being: when you’re preparing business English documents, speak the English language of your audience.

English Majors: Geek Heroes of the Future?

Added on by Karen Wilson.
English majors needed in Silicon Valley

“English majors are exactly the people I’m looking for, says Santosh Jayaram, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur. ..Almost anything you can imagine you can now build, said Santosh, so the battleground in business has shifted from engineering, which everybody can do, to storytelling, for which many fewer people have real talent.” (Wall Street Journal, October 25, How to Avoid the Bonfire of the Humanties.)

WilsonsWriters tells your business story - powerfully, effectively, affordably.


Steve Jobs Said It Himself

Added on by Karen Wilson.
Steve Jobs: " is not enough..."   (Transfered by  fetchcomms  /Original uploaded by  Matt Yohe   )

In the Wall Street Journal last week:

“Asked once what made his company special, Steve Jobs replied: ‘It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough – it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities that yields us the result that makes our heart sing.’”  (Emphasis added by WilsonsWriters because you can’t say it loud enough: People are attracted to a product but they connect through communication. Not much different than dating really.)

How can Something Right be Wrong?

Added on by Karen Wilson.
         Or not...

         Or not...

It sounds nice to improve something, right? So why does this claim on a manufacturer’s website make me cringe?

…committed to improving satisfaction.

If customer satisfaction is already the desired outcome, how would you improve on it? How about being “committed to consistent satisfaction”? (I’ll buy one!)

Sloppy Language? No Deal!

Added on by Karen Wilson.

I was looking for an e-signature provider and almost went with this one until I saw how sloppy they were with their language:

Sloppy language? No deal!
  • The only solution that gets contracts signed, tracked and filed in one easy step
  • Real-time visibility info contract signature status
  • Nothing to download, learn or install - itís easy as using email!
  • Completely secure and compliant with signature controls and audit history
  • Support for both e-signature and written signatures

A Very Dangerous Three Letter Word...

Added on by Karen Wilson.

I saw this heading on an international trade organization’s website:

Toyota to hold world’s biggest car recall for 16 years

I think they mean “in 16 years.” Either that or they’ve hired earthworms to do the processing.