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The Art of Communication Prepared for More Than Manners By Tracy Kramer January 2006 The ability to use language, to communicate with people in times of joy and sorrow, and to persuade, soothe, enchant, or calm another person, is a great gift. It’s called the art of communication.

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the art of communication

The Art of Communication

Prepared for More Than Manners

By Tracy Kramer

January 2006


The ability to use language, to communicate with people in times of joy and sorrow, and to persuade, soothe, enchant, or calm another person, is a great gift. It’s called the art of communication.

Letitia Baldridge

Complete Guide to the New Executive Manners in the ’90s

the art of communication3
The Two Vs

Conversational Skills

Small Talk

Remembering Names

Eye Contact

Body Language

Making a Presentation

Dealing with Difficult People or Situations

Giving and Receiving Compliments

Telephone Manners

Mobile Phone Etiquette

The Art of Communication
the two vs voice and vocabulary
The Two Vs: Voice and Vocabulary
  • Your conversation and ability to communicate is enlivened by a good vocabulary, but it is also transmitted through the voice.
  • A poor vocabulary will limit your ability to convey the message that you really mean.
  • An unpleasant voice can distract the listener from even the most well-scripted message.
having a great voice
Having a “Great Voice”

When you hear a great speaking voice, most likely that person:

  • Is easy to understand, with good enunciation
  • Speaks without strain, at a low, comfortable pitch
  • Projects enthusiasm with the voice, rather than fatigue or depression.
  • Has an unaccented, or lightly accented, voice
  • Speaks at a controlled volume, neither too loud nor too soft
  • Has good pacing, neither too fast nor too slow
cultivating a pleasing voice
Cultivating a Pleasing Voice
  • A well-modulated voice is a tremendous asset, but a poor one can hold you back in your career and social life.
  • Record you voice: Reading, presenting, speaking with friends, on the telephone.
  • Evaluate your vocal qualities—alone and with friends.
  • Pin-point areas that need improvement and embark on a plan to make incremental changes.
  • Re-evaluate yourself often. Enlist the help of friends to prevent back-sliding.
building a powerful vocabulary
Building a Powerful Vocabulary

“Good language is contagious.” Clare Boothe Luce

  • Keep a dictionary with you.
  • Read, read, read.
  • Word-of-the-Day strategies
  • Human Thesaurus strategies
  • Word puzzles and games
  • Eliminate foul language
I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant. --Oscar Wilde

Nature gave us one tongue and two ears so we could hear twice as much as we speak. ---Epictetus

power communication skills
Power Communication Skills

To develop power in your communication skills, try these techniques:

  • Become proactive. You decide your own actions, attitudes, and feelings. DECIDE to be a good communicator. DECIDE to not be shy.
  • Use visualization. Visualize what you want to happen, then make it happen.
  • Ask for Assistance. Have someone you trust help you correct any communication problems.
verbal power
Verbal Power
  • Pitch and projection. Develop good voice control. Avoid high pitch and mumbling.
  • Act confident. Never let them see you sweat.
  • Use silence. Silence can be powerful. Use it to gather thought or provoke a response.
  • Verbalize goals. Be very clear and specific about what you want or need.
  • Humor. Humor creates a bond and can diffuse tense situations.
small talk
Small Talk
  • What is “Small Talk”?
    • Small talk is casual or trivial conversation
    • It is amiable, unhurried (unimportant) conversation that is a prologue to serious business conversation.
  • When do you make small talk?
    • While waiting (for your drink, your meal, other members of your party, for the meeting to start, etc.)
why is small talk important
Why is Small Talk Important?
  • Small talk is what persons say to each other to find common ground. It’s how they get to know one another.
  • Small talk allows people to connect without the threat of business decisions or tension.
  • It can become a competitive edge when it renders a person attractive and makes him or her a pleasant person to sit next to at a meeting, at lunch, at dinner, or other situations.
I will pay more for the ability to deal with people than for any other ability under the sun. -- John D. Rockefeller
  • Technical skills and knowledge account for only 15 percent of
    • The reason you get a job
    • Keep a job
    • Advance in a job
  • 85% of your job success is connected to your people skills, e.g. communication
how do you make small talk
How Do You Make Small Talk?
  • The single best topic of small talk is the other person.
    • Example: “Mary, you gave an excellent presentation. That must have required a lot of research.”
  • The main thing to remember is to keep it light and upbeat. If you remember to smile while you talk, you’ll make the person listening to you smile, too.
small talk at a business lunch
Small Talk at a Business Lunch
  • If you’re the guest, make small talk until the host signals the beginning of business talk.
  • If you know the other person is married and/or has a family, ask a very general question about it. If they don’t pick up the ball, drop it.
  • Bring up light business topics, such as new businesses, new inventions, funny happenings. Nothing heavy or serious.
  • A good joke is best delivered early, before the business discussion begins.
small talk at a social function
Small Talk at a Social Function
  • Give equal time to everyone around you, especially both dinner partners.
  • If conversation bogs down, ask “personal” questions: Where was your last vacation? How do you know the host/hostess? What was the last movie seen/book read? Etc.
  • Lauch light topics of interest to all, not boring or depressing ones.
  • If you know any good quotes, bring them out only when they fit the occasion.
when not to make small talk
When NOT to Make Small Talk
  • Anytime someone is concentrating: Reading, working, involved in another conversation.
  • When privacy might be expected: In a doctor’s/dentist’s waiting room, in a changing room, in a restroom.
  • When someone doesn’t respond to your initial gambit, but goes immediately back to their previous activity.
conversational tips
Conversational Tips
  • Be well informed. Read books, newspapers, periodicals, etc. to keep current.
  • Be prepared. Be aware of and conversant about any “hot” topics in the news.
  • Don’t interrupt. Let whomever you’re talking with finish their conversation.
  • Do listen. Part of good conversation is responding, not just waiting for your turn to talk.
  • Do think before you respond. Give a thoughtful response, one that shows you were listening.
what to talk about
An interesting or fun topic from the papers

Ask parents about their children

Congratulate someone for recovering from an illness/surgery

Propose fundraising ideas for a social need

Provide news of sports of major interest, like the Olympics

Discuss the real estate market

Discuss heartening news about the economy

Discuss local civic problems and how you might help

Describe fascinating discoveries or inventions you’ve heard about

Provide happy news of mutual friends

Talk about the latest play, concert, cultural event in your area.

What to Talk About
what not to talk about
Your health

The cost of things

Mean gossip

Off-color jokes

Non-humorous controversial issues

Depressing news items

The break up of a relationship

Details of an illness or surgery

Depressing economic news

Ranting about local civic problems

Criticizing local artistic events

Passing judgment on what people eat or drink

Discoursing on a sporting event that is not interesting to all parties

Politics in any controversial manner

Religion, in any judgmental manner

What NOT to Talk about
how to tell if you re a conversational bore
How to tell if you’re a conversational bore

You’re likely a conversational bore is people:

  • Are looking around the room (for someone to save them)
  • Have eyes that are glazed over
  • Have sunk so deeply into their chairs, they’re practically lying down
  • Have given up trying to interrupt you
  • Keep checking their watches

It’s the conversationalist who overdoes it, who won’t get off the subject, or how sticks to his or her topic like glue that is the bore.

The three topics most likely to bore others are: Your health, your job, and your children.

how to be a conversational hero
How to be a Conversational Hero
  • Listen. Listen attentively to others.
  • No interruptions. Let everyone finish speaking
  • Show a great sense of humor. Be able to laugh at one’s self
  • Be able to talk on any subject. This means being well read and knowledgeable
  • Know how to diffuse someone else’s mournful conversation
  • Know how to take a topic of conversation into new, interesting depths
how to remember names
How to Remember Names
  • An important skill is the ability to remember names.
  • Stop telling yourself that you don’t remember names and convince yourself that you are great at remembering names.
  • Slow down, listen carefully, mentally repeat the name and a connection, then verify that you heard it correctly.
  • Use the person’s name often, over and over, during the initial conversation.
  • Look at the person’s name tag and features and make a mental connection.
  • If the name is unusual or difficult, ask the person to spell it.
  • Ask for a business card, if it’s appropriate--not a superior
forgotten names
Forgotten Names
  • If someone can’t remember your name: smile, reintroduce yourself, and tell how you originally met.
  • If you can’t remember a person’s name: Apologize, acknowledge previous introduction, and ask for their name.
non verbal communication
Non-Verbal Communication

The most important thing in communications is to hear what isn’t being said. --Peter F. Drucker

  • Body language is defined as “gestures, unconscious bodily movements, facial expressions, etc. which serve as nonverbal communications or as accompaniments to speech”
body language
Body Language
  • Your words can be neutralized, contradicted, or supported by your body language.
  • 55% or someone’s impression of you is visual, 38% is presentation—and words account for only 7 % of the impact of your message.
  • It’s not what you say, but how you say it, that makes the biggest impact.
  • The less you rely on gestures, the more people are forced to pay attention to your words.
negative body language
Crossed arms signify resistance or a closed mind

Leaning (on anything) signifies laziness and a lack of power.

Lack of eye contact, including looking away, rolling eyes, etc

Flailing arms or too large hand gestures—too distracting

Leg swinging or foot tapping—signifies impatience

Nail biting

Slouching or poor posture

Negative Body Language
eye contact
Eye Contact

Speaking without making eye contact is like talking with a bag over your head. --Dorothy Sarnoff

  • Eyes can project confidence and inspire instant trust.
  • Eyes convey the messages of approval, love, interest, sincerity, credibility, enthusiasm, excitement—and all of the negative emotions, as well.
eye contact29
Eye Contact
  • Direct eye contact is vital if you’re to truly communicate with another person.
  • Direct eye contact should be made 40 to 60 percent of the time.
  • Eye contact of less than 40% of the time is seen as shifty.
  • If eye contact is more than 60% of the time, it is perceived as aggressive or invasive.
eye contact30
Eye Contact
  • Look directly at the person when they speak and when you are speaking
  • To be a good listener, your eyes should say, “What you have to say is important to me.”
  • When you’re the talker, your eyes should say, “What I have to say is really interesting.” Convey enthusiasm.
eye signals
Eye Signals
  • The Business Gaze: concentrates on the forehead, eyes and nose
  • The Social Gaze: concentrates on the eyes, nose, and mouth
  • The Intimate Gaze: concentrates on the mouth and lower
making presentations that get results
Making Presentations That Get Results
  • Know your material
  • Organize your outline
  • Create opportunities for audience participation
  • Be yourself
  • Believe in your message
ways to gain a group s attention and interest
Ways to Gain a Group’s Attention and Interest
  • Ask a question
  • Tell a joke or story
  • Say something unexpected
basics of public speaking
Get sleep the night before

Make sure you’re appropriately dressed

Mingle with your audience beforehand, if possible

Fight anxiety by willing yourself to relax—mentally, physically and emotionally

Watch your posture

Take great care with the content of your speech

Know your material to perfection

Don’t eat just before you speak

Just before you start, psych yourself up


Basics of Public Speaking
basics of public speaking35
As you begin speaking, look over your audience, still smiling, and then take a couple of deep breaths

Make your first words something light

As you talk, keep sweeping your eyes over the entire room

Keep listening to the sound of your voice over the microphone

Smile a lot

Keep a glass of water (not ice) nearby

Make absolutely certain your equipment has been checked out

Use your body language to help persuade:

Use hands deliberately, not constantly

Don’t push on glasses

Control nervous habits

Stand upright, without clutching or leaning on the lectern

Basics of Public Speaking
dealing with difficult people
Dealing with Difficult People

A man and his friend stopped at a newsstand to purchase a paper. The man thanked the vendor politely, but the vendor remained coldly silent. “A sullen fellow, isn’t he?” remarked the friend.

“Oh, he’s like that every night,” said the man.

“Then why do you continue to be so very polite to him?” asked the friend.

Replied the man, “Why should I let him decide how I’m going to act?”

From The Best of Sydney J. Harris

how to handle criticism
How to Handle Criticism
  • Ask questions. Search for the truth. Don’t be defensive.
  • Listen and reconfirm. Try to understand the basis and message of the criticism.
  • Sell the future. Try to find a way to make the future better.
how to respond to criticism
How to Respond to Criticism
  • There are only 4 ways to respond to criticism:
  • Accept it.
  • Reject it.
  • Ignore it.
  • Confrontation.

How do you respond? Take the self-assessment.

public confrontations
Public Confrontations
  • Criticism in front of others is usually from someone trying to force a response from you. Your best option is to diffuse or delay. Never ignore it.
  • Publicly thank the person for the criticism.
  • Tell the confronter, “John, this is not the appropriate time or place to discuss this situation. However, I’d like to meet with you in private.

This way, you’ve accepted the criticism, but taken control away from the confronter.

constructive confrontation techniques
Constructive Confrontation Techniques
  • I don’t like (name the behavior or situation you want changed)
  • I want (name a specific condition you want)
  • I’m willing to (make an offer to cooperate to bring about the desired results)
how to handle people who habitually fly off the handle
How to Handle People Who Habitually Fly Off the Handle

Choice 1: Ignore them.

Choice 2: Put up with them.

Choice 3: Don’t put up with them.

can t ignore it don t want to put up with it
Can’t Ignore it? Don’t Want to Put Up With It?
  • If you choose not to put up with their behavior, rehearsing statements like the following will prepare for the situation when it arises again:
  • “The next time you use profanity, I’m going to walk out in the middle of your sentence.”
  • “We’re not getting anywhere now. Let’s talk later.”
  • “When you blow up like this, I tend to stop listening. If we could discuss this issue when we’ve calmed down, I think we’ll be able to resolve it sooner.”
  • NEVER try to get the bully to take responsibility.
how to win over someone who s against you
How to Win Over Someone Who’s Against You
  • Find a point of agreement.
  • Ask them to clarify their position.
  • Suggest alternatives.
  • Find something you like about what they do and compliment them. Be careful not to patronize.
extricating yourself from difficult situations
Extricating Yourself From Difficult Situations
  • It takes courage and kindness to escape the situation and still look gracious
  • Your options are deflecting, distracting or distancing
  • You’re on a plane trying to work or sleep and your seatmate gets chatty: “I wish I could talk to you. I can see you’re a very interesting person. But I’m on a deadline/I haven’t slept, so I really need to work/sleep. I hope you don’t mind that I don’t talk with you for a while.
extricating yourself from difficult situations45
Extricating Yourself From Difficult Situations
  • A nasty argument has erupted: If you can’t distance yourself, distract—”Enough of that subject. What about world peace?”
  • The stories are getting dirty in mixed company, making some guests uncomfortable: “Do you mind if I ask Fred something? I’ve been dying to hear is opinion on gay marriage all night.”
  • The conversation is way over the head of most of the crowd: “You’re too smart for the rest of us. Come down to our planet for a while and tell us about … telephone privacy.”
  • Someone has just committed a gross gaffe, making everyone go quiet: Someone has to wade into the icy river and restart the conversation “Turning from that controversial topic, less talk about something less intense, like politics or religion. How about…”
  • If YOU make the gaffe, apologize immediately, sincerely, and try to find a way to salvage the situation.. Without getting defensive.
giving compliments
Giving Compliments
  • Nothing is more affirmative than a compliment.
  • A compliment should not be exaggerated, snide, or phony, because it turns into a negative gesture.
  • Say it with sincerity, from the heart.
  • A compliment is an excellent ice-breaker and conversation starter.
when to give compliments
After your hosts have served a delicious meal or entertaining cocktail party

After someone has made a public appearance

After there has been recognition or an honor bestowed

When someone has extended great effort on a project

When a person has done something courageous

When a person has done a good job, won or lost, in a competitive sport

When a person has achieved any type of milestone in his/her life

Whenever its warranted

When to Give Compliments
how to accept a compliment
How to Accept a Compliment
  • Nothing can take the wind out of a person’s sails faster than to have one’s compliment rejected.

When someone says something nice to you, say:

    • Thank you
    • Aren’t you nice to say that
    • I really appreciate those warm words
  • Whatever you do, don’t refute a compliment
telephone manners
Telephone Manners
  • 75-80% of today’s business is conducted over the telephone.
  • The manner in which you answer your telephone, at home or at the office, says a lot about your concern for how you are perceived.
  • Because we take the telephone for granted, we have ceased to worry about what kind of noise we are transmitting—including the sounds of full-blown sneezes, coughs, chewing, grunts, and even a soda being slurped through a straw.
basic telephone manners
Treat every call as important. Every time you place or receive a call, your voice and manner should reflect your professional best.

It’s the duty of the person placing the call to identify him/herself when the phone is answered.

The person you called always has priority. Don’t call someone, then put them on hold.

When your phone rings, answer it promptly—within 2 rings at the office, 4 at home.

Always identify yourself when answering.

Never ask “Who is calling” or “What was that name?”

Risky option: “May I say who is calling?”

Always return calls—same day if possible

Basic Telephone Manners
basic telephone manners51
When you take a message, be sure to get it right. Take the date, time, caller’s name and number and message. Read it back.

Time your call so it won’t interfere with someone’s job.

Always ask if the time is convenient.

Always apologize when you’ve dialed a wrong number.

If someone has an appointment with you, don’t take a phone call.

If you’re with someone in their home or office and they (have to) take a call, offer to leave.

Watch background noises

If you initiated the call and it’s disconnected, it’s your responsibility to re-call.

Take the time to give the call a good ending.

Basic Telephone Manners
telephone tag
Telephone Tag
  • Telephone tag is counterproductive, so try to circumvent it.
  • Leave a complete message. Tell what you need and if it can be handled with or without a call back.
  • Ask persons you speak with frequently when they prefer you to call them.
  • Don’t just leave a message asking for a return call. Find out, if possible, when the person will be available and make a phone date with them.
answering machines and voice mail
Answering Machines and Voice Mail
  • Answering machines and voice mail are important tools in today’s business.
  • Place short out-going messages on your machine.
  • Don’t tell caller’s how to leave a message.
  • Don’t set amusing or musical out-going messages.
  • The best messages are brief and clear: Leave your name, telephone number, and a convenient time to return your call.
answering machines and voice mail54
When you’re the caller:

Leave a complete & accurate message

Always leave a message; don’t waste the call

Always leave your name, #, and convenient time to call.

Organize your thoughts before you leave the message

When it’s your machine:

Leave a brief, clear message

Encourage content by telling how long the message may be

Avoid platitudes

Avoid long messages or advertisements

Update your message frequently

Answering Machines and Voice Mail
mobile phone etiquette
Mobile Phone Etiquette
  • The prevalence of cellular/mobile phones have created many opportunities to engage in blatantly rude behavior.
  • Today, people feel entitled to speak on their phones whenever and wherever they choose, regardless of their surroundings.
  • In general, mobile phones should not be used in public places or in the company of other persons!
mobile phone etiquette56
Avoid taking your phone inside a restaurant, concert, theater, or church (unless it’s necessary and turned down)

Talking loudly in a public place is an invasion of other people’s space and privacy.

Limit your conversation on a plane or train.

When sitting with or near other people, don’t intrude on their time or space.

Never answer or place calls in front of other people without their permission.

Be aware of how exclusionary it is to other’s around you.

Mobile Phone Etiquette
verbal communication conclusions
Verbal Communication Conclusions
  • To have the reputation of being a great conversationalist brings magic into your life. You will be wanted as a guest at everyone’s party; people will lean in your direction to hear what you have to say; people may even quote you—the most sincere form of flattery.
  • It’s well worth acquiring the self-discipline and the knowledge it takes to become a good conversationalist.
  • Excellent communication skills, at all levels, can provide an advantage over the competition.
e mail etiquette
E-Mail Etiquette

Too many people abuse e-mail:

  • They forget everything they ever learned about proper writing, punctuation, and proof-reading.
  • They assume that everyone needs to know or cares about their smallest of thoughts.
  • They substitute anonymity for good manners.
e mail etiquette59
E-Mail Etiquette

Since the privacy of e-mail is doubtful, before clicking the send button, ask yourself:

  • Have I said what I really meant to say? Am I clear? No doubt about my meaning?
  • Have I used distasteful language?
  • Have I harmed anyone in my message?
  • Have I done a good turn for someone (compliment, etc.)?
e mail etiquette60
E-Mail Etiquette
  • Never send an e-mail out in all capital or lower case letters.
  • Think twice (thrice?) about choosing “reply to all.”
  • Do not send cutesie, up lifting, or chain-letter e-mails at the office.
  • Do not send angry or recriminating e-mails.
  • Use e-mails in the same manner you would formal written communication.
formal business letters
Formal Business Letters
  • A letter is an important reaction to an event: someone’s good or bad news, renewing an old relationship, etc.
  • Business correspondence may touch on very personal matters, not just the exchange of business.
  • Every time you add a personal sentence or two to a formal business letter, you turn that letter into a personal-business letter.
  • The ability of a good letter to influence is considerable.
  • The right kind of letter is far more effective than a fax, e-mail or telephone call.
the written word
The Written Word

If you send a letter instead of fax, e-mail, or telephone:

  • There is often better preparation involved.
  • It is usually edited with care.
  • It is often typed or written on good quality stock.
  • Quality stationary is as pleasing to the touch and to the eye.
  • It usually has a handsome envelope, properly addressed.
  • If in a sealed envelope, it is seen only by the recipient.
letter etiquette
The office letterhead is meant for business, not personal use.

If you are involved in a project in which others also play leading roles, you should make copies for them when you send or receive correspondence.

Don’t send sloppy letters.

A hand-written letter is very compelling, whether it’s on company letterhead or your own personal stationary.

Don’t write or type on both sides of office letterhead.

You may write on both sides of personal stationary, if the paper is thick enough.

If writing by hand, use black, navy, or dark brown ink.

If you don’t have blank second sheets, use another copy of the letterhead and write “-2-” at the top.

Be sure that the addressee’s name is spelled properly and that his/her title is included.

Over-familiarity in the salutation may be inappropriate.

Letter Etiquette
  • A letter to a peer or someone with whom you are on a first name basis: “Dear Joe,”
  • A letter to a superior you know on a friendly basis, but don’t feel confident about using a first name: “Dear Joe Williams:”
  • A more formal letter to a superior or anyone you have not met: ”Dear Mr. Williams:”
letter content
Letter Content
  • Letters are reserved for correspondence between individuals, not within an organization.
  • Letters adhere to more complex conventions than memos
  • Letters have a 3-part design: Introduction, middle and ending.
  • In the introduction, acknowledge any previous communication and explain why you are writing.
  • In the middle, use short paragraphs to detail your message.
  • At the end, be very specific about what actions you want to happen.
letter format
Letter Format




Street Address

City, State Zip



Here we go.

More info.

What I want is..


Signed signature

Typed signature


Enc (1)

complimentary closings
Complimentary Closings
  • The only closing you need for a business letter is “Sincerely” or “Sincerely yours”
  • Keep the acronyms and affectionate terms for your personal correspondence.
  • If you are writing to the President or any person holding a high office, you may appropriately use “Respectfully yours”
  • It is gross carelessness not to sign your typed letters.
thank you notes
Thank You Notes
  • Part of good manners is knowing how to accept a gift or courtesy with grace.
  • Send a thank you note:
    • When you have received a gift
    • When you have received a meal or been entertained in some manner
    • When someone has done you a favor, no matter how small
  • Notes, unlike memos, are short, personal correspondence used to convey your own thoughts or feelings on an issue.
  • Send a note:
    • To compliment or congratulate someone (promotion, good news, successful project, speech, etc.)
    • To express sympathy or condolence
    • To request a favor

Memos accomplish routine tasks, such as:

  • making announcements
  • distributing agendas and minutes of meetings
  • describing policies and procedures
  • requesting information or responding to such requests
  • Issuing brief reports

Memo, by definition, are generic and general

memo format
Memo Format






  • To sign a print memo, depending on your relationship with the readers, either write your name or initials on the from line (friendly) or sign at the bottom (more formal).
practice points
Good news in a Colleague’s family

Congratulations on completing project

Congratulations on promotion

Gratitude for business meal

Gratitude for dinner in a home

Acknowledging a compliment

Asking for a favor

Declining a favor

For an inappropriate gift

Politely refusing a gift

Condolence letter

Letter of apology

Letter of complaint

Request for information

Request for clarification

Acknowledging a compliment

Practice Points