The Strengths of the Sentence

Many people who work with clients day in and day out, or within businesses that rely heavily on communication, often don’t realise the importance of the sentence. It is often a lonely structure in a crowd of words, thrown around haphazardly, ineptly manoeuvring its way through emails while trying to avoid irritation in its reader, or in the worst-case scenario – aggravation.

However, if one masters the skill of clear and appropriate sentence structure, it will lead to positive, strategic and simpler communication. Adding the correct emphasis in the areas that need it, and applying the right amount of elegance and sophistication, gives influence and authority to any written communication. Here are some examples of sentences in different forms that can be used to achieve this:

  • The head-on sentence
    • These are preferred in business communication for their straightforwardness as they place the main subject or request at the very beginning of the sentence
    • Find the key subject in your sentence and start there
      • g. Sentence structure assists your emails in becoming refined and elegant forms of communication.
  • The build-up sentence
    • This is a useful way to provide important background information earlier in the sentence while suspending the main idea until the end of the sentence
      • g. Good communication is increasingly important as we head into the world of Artificial Intelligence and the key component to doing this well is sentence structure.
  • The interrupted sentence
    • These sentences are vital to interrupt the rigid flow of written communication that reveals a natural, spoken, informal feel
      • g. Sentence structure is vital, albeit difficult to get right, for quality communication.
  • The coordinated sentence
    • This sentence gives equal emphasis to a pair of main subjects and may be a simple way to express to the client that they are of equal importance
      • g. Strong vocabulary and appropriate word choice will make your sentences powerful and sentence structure will make them orderly and concise.
  • The subordinated sentence
    • This sentence has two main purpose; to provides a necessary transition, indicating a time, place or cause and effect between the two ideas in the sentence; and educe the importance of one clause so that a reader understands which of the two ideas is more important. Again, a useful way to express to the client the importance of one subject or request over another
      • g. You should practice by writing many examples and choose the best one before submitting your final draft.
  • The parallel sentence
    • This sentence provides a repetition of the same pattern of words or phrases to show stress the importance of the subject or request. It also helps the reader take in the information due to the familiar structure
      • g. Sentences work best when they vary in length throughout the paragraph but maintain consistency of form within the sentence.
  • The minor sentence
    • By selectively and skilfully using this small, incomplete sentence after more complex ones, the writer can break up large amounts of informative and dense text to keep the receiver attentive and understanding of the main subject or request of the written communication.
      • g. Got it?

Are We Culturally Clumsy?

Culture Meeting

Do you remember the last culturally clumsy situation you were in? Or, the last time you said something that was not quite right, and you just couldn’t understand how to remedy it? I got to thinking about this the other night at a Cultural Intelligence seminar, where a woman asked, “What can I do to rise above the feeling that I’m always making cultural mistakes?”

I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Why did she think she was wrong? Who was right?

Being culturally intelligent is a vital role played by all those that communicate in the workplace – from leaders of a business, to those in support roles. It is particularly necessary in Australian workplaces where the hierarchy is traditionally quite flat and we see a wide range of cultures consistently intermingling.

One of the biggest challenges that we face in achieving cultural awareness, is not necessarily through verbal communication, but in listening and removing stereotypes of how people from different cultures connect. By communicating and appreciating the differences between cultures first, a workplace can then build its rapport of verbal communication. As an example, I worked with Xiaoli a few years ago, who everyone first thought was incredibly shy and was not confident in bringing new ideas to the table. However, after a few client meetings, it became clear, that she did in fact have many great ideas, and would willingly and confidently share them, but only when invited to do so. This opened a new avenue for her leaders to understand her better, and the way in which she communicated in the workplace.

For her managers, it was helpful to learn this difference and for Xiaoli, it allowed her to feel more accepted and part of the team. However, the slippery slope, that has us descend into judgement – whether it be of the other person or of ourselves being – will never allow us to be empathetic nor to embrace the innovation, creativity and joy that comes from opening up to cultural, personal or any type of difference – whether we are experiencing it locally or abroad, with a colleague or client.

While I was digesting all these thoughts, I created this activity that I want to share with you. The key objective of it, is to reduce confusion, build certainty and generate communication confidence for you.

To improve your cultural awareness, I suggest following three main stages to create positive self-awareness of how you feel in your cultural surroundings:

  1. Reflect daily and create a safe place that you can learn, rehearse, practice and improve and continue observing your cultural interactions and their nature
  2. Create weekly objectives for yourself to address what it is that you want to improve about yourself
  3. Create a discussion at the end of each week, to find a way to start implementing what it is that you have learnt not only about yourself, but about language techniques that break down barriers and about the environment around you.