Communication

8 Ways the Workplace is Evolving

8 Ways the Workplace is Evolving

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Read time: 3 min

 

May 31, 2023

Summary:

The modern workplace is undergoing a remarkable transformation, adapting to the changing needs and expectations of the workforce. With rapid technological advancements and changing demographics, employers recognize the importance of evolving to attract and retain top talent. This blog post explores eight key aspects of how the workplace is evolving to meet these demands and create a more productive and satisfying work environment.

The modern workplace is undergoing a remarkable transformation, adapting to the changing needs and expectations of the workforce. With rapid technological advancements and changing demographics, employers recognize the importance of evolving to attract and retain top talent. Here are eight key aspects of how the workplace is evolving: 

1. The Inevitable Rise of Remote Work

One of the most significant shifts in the evolution of the workplace is the rise of remote work. Thanks to technological advances, workers can now work flexibly from anywhere and break free from the traditional confines of the office. As a result, companies increasingly recognize the possibility of remote work, which allows employees to balance their work and personal lives better while reducing the cost of maintaining office space. Remote work offers numerous benefits, including increased productivity, no commute times, and a larger talent pool from which to choose.

2. Flexible Schedules 

In addition to remote work, flexible work schedules are becoming more prevalent in the evolving workplace. Instead of adhering to rigid 9-to-5 schedules, employees now have the freedom to shape their work schedules to fit their personal lives. This change accommodates the diverse needs of employees and promotes a better work-life balance. By offering flexible work hours, employers can foster a more engaged and motivated workforce, which translates into higher job satisfaction and productivity.

3. Increased Automation

Advances in automation technology are changing the way work is performed in many industries. Repetitive and mundane tasks are automated, allowing workers to focus on more complex and creative tasks. Automation improves efficiency and accuracy, enabling companies to remain competitive in a rapidly evolving marketplace. While some fear that automation could replace jobs, it’s more likely to create new tasks requiring human skills and ingenuity.

4. Improved Communication

As the world of work evolves, effective communication is paramount. Companies are adopting various tools and platforms to streamline communication channels and foster team collaboration, regardless of location. Instant messaging, video conferencing, and project management tools are just a few technologies that facilitate seamless communication and information sharing. By improving communication, organizations can increase teamwork, decision-making, and overall productivity.

5. Increased Use of Technology

The evolution of the workplace is closely tied to technological advances. From cloud computing to artificial intelligence, companies use cutting-edge tools and software to streamline operations and provide better products and services. Technology enables employees to work more efficiently, access information instantly, and collaborate seamlessly. As a result, the use of tech not only increases productivity but also keeps businesses agile and adaptable in an ever-changing marketplace.

6. Data-driven Decisions

Data is now the foundation for making informed decisions in the workplace. Companies are collecting and analyzing vast amounts of data to gain insights into employee behavior, customer preferences, and market trends. Data analytics allows companies to make data-driven decisions that increase operational efficiency, optimize resource allocation, and improve customer satisfaction. This data-driven approach enables companies to stay ahead of the competition and drive innovation in their respective industries.

7. Improved Employee Benefits

Recognizing the importance of attracting and retaining top talent, employers are reevaluating their employee benefits programs. In the evolving workplace, companies offer comprehensive benefits packages beyond traditional health insurance and retirement plans. From wellness programs and flexible spending accounts to on-site childcare and paid parental leave, companies are emphasizing the holistic well-being of their employees. These expanded benefits contribute to employee satisfaction and are a competitive advantage in the talent marketplace.

8. Focus on Mental Health

The changing world of work recognizes mental health’s importance and promotes employee well-being. Employers invest in mental health resources and provide access to counseling services, mindfulness programs, and stress management initiatives. By creating a supportive work environment that prioritizes mental health, companies can reduce burnout, increase productivity and improve employee satisfaction. Recognizing that employee well-being goes beyond physical health, companies are taking proactive steps to address mental health issues and promote a healthy work-life balance.

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Conclusion

At Assisto, we understand the importance of embracing the evolution of the workplace and helping companies navigate the changing world of work. We specialize in creating innovative solutions that meet the changing needs of our clients and their employees.

Our team at Assist-o recognizes that the workplace is no longer limited to traditional office spaces. Our remote work strategies ensure companies can attract top talent from a broader talent pool while promoting work-life balance and productivity.

In addition, we’re always on the cutting edge of technology, using the latest tools and software to streamline operations and increase productivity. We can help you integrate automation technologies into your business processes so your employees can focus on more complex and creative tasks.

Embrace workplace evolution with Assisto and unlock the potential of a more productive, engaged, and satisfied workforce. Contact us today to learn more about how our innovative solutions can transform your business.

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How to Secure Good Business Relationships: Tips for Success

How to Secure Good Business Relationships: Tips for Success

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Read time: 5 min

 

May 17, 2023

Summary:

In the business world, the strength of business relationships is often the cornerstone of your success. As we navigate the complexities of building relationships in business, we must always remember that these bonds are not just a means to an end, but the foundation upon which we construct our future.

Understand Your Goals

Recognizing your business goals is the foundational step to building successful relationships. This requires a profound understanding of your organization’s purpose, objectives, and future aspirations. The insight gained from this deep dive helps tailor a unique approach to establishing a business network that aligns with your overall strategic vision.

Your business goals could vary from strengthening market position, diversifying products, or expanding geographically. Each goal calls for a different type of business relationship. For instance, building alliances with established industry players might help consolidate the market position, while partnering with innovative startups could aid product diversification.

Your goals depend on your timeframe, whether you’re looking for long-term partnerships for steady growth or short-term collaborations for immediate objectives. In essence, clarity in goals is a beacon guiding your networking journey, helping you choose partners who align with your objectives and contribute to your overall success.

Be Open to Feedback

Feedback is a crucial part of business relationships. It offers valuable insights and shows our commitment to learning and improving. When we’re open to feedback, we’re not just acknowledging comments or suggestions; we’re actively trying to understand our partners’, customers’, or clients’ perspectives.

Welcoming feedback allows us to refine our products or services based on the experiences and challenges of our stakeholders. This process ensures our offerings remain relevant and meet their evolving needs. It’s an essential resource for improvement and innovation.

Beyond product enhancement, being receptive to feedback fosters trust and respect. By showing interest in our interlocutor’s thoughts, we demonstrate that we value their opinions. Trust is built when we acknowledge feedback and make changes accordingly, reinforcing the bond in our business relationships. This openness ultimately leads to stronger, more resilient connections.

Communicate Regularly

Effective communication sits at the core of strong business relationships. Be it through phone calls, emails, or meetings, a steady flow of communication keeps everyone aligned, reducing room for confusion or misunderstandings. It’s not just about exchanging information but also creating a shared narrative that everyone can follow.

Regular communication acts as a testament to our commitment to the relationship. When we take time to communicate, we show that we value the connection beyond just transactions. It sends a clear message that we’re invested in the relationship’s success.

Moreover, consistent communication fosters transparency and trust. Sharing information openly builds an atmosphere of honesty. This openness makes parties more comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, leading to a more robust and resilient business relationship.

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Respect Your Partners

Respect, a fundamental element in any relationship, holds heightened significance in business partnerships. It goes beyond basic dignity and politeness, reflecting our recognition of our partners’ worth. Respect manifests practically, such as through honoring contractual obligations, which demonstrates that we value our partners’ needs and expectations.

Maintaining confidentiality is another crucial aspect of respect. Partners often entrust us with sensitive information. Safeguarding this not only fulfills legal requirements but also shows our commitment to preserving their trust. Furthermore, respect involves acknowledging the unique value each party contributes and appreciating their resources, skills, or innovative ideas.

Respecting our partners strengthens our business relationships and our overall business network. It creates a positive environment where partnerships can thrive, fostering mutual understanding and collaboration, leading to long-term success. Respect, therefore, is not just a virtue but a strategic approach to enhancing the quality and effectiveness of our business relationships.

Show Gratitude

Indeed, expressing gratitude in business is an overlooked yet crucial practice that significantly enhances business relationships. Acknowledging the contributions of our partners, customers, or clients is a respectful gesture and a strategic move. It affirms the value we place on these relationships, fosters goodwill, and encourages ongoing collaboration.

Showing gratitude goes beyond saying ‘thank you.’ It creates a positive perception of our business, helps attract future collaborations, and instills a sense of validation and engagement in our partners, customers, or clients. Furthermore, it promotes a culture of collaboration where everyone feels valued, fostering a positive feedback loop that strengthens our business network.

Finally, a culture of gratitude can have internal benefits too. It boosts team morale and motivation, leading to increased productivity and a more positive work environment. In conclusion, the power of a simple ‘thank you’ cannot be underestimated in the world of business. It’s an integral component of successful business relationships, fostering a thriving, collaborative, and successful business network.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, securing good business relationships is a multifaceted process involving clear goal-setting, openness to feedback, regular communication, respect, and gratitude. By integrating these steps into our approach, we are not just building relationships in business but creating a resilient foundation for success. 

A strong business network is not just a collection of contacts but a web of successful relationships, each contributing to the growth and prosperity of our business.

Through the cultivation of good business relationships, we can enhance the quality and impact of our products or services, enriching the value we offer to our customers or clients. Through frequent phone calls and regular communication, we can foster strong ties and mutual understanding, ensuring the longevity of our relationships. 

By being open to feedback, we invite continuous improvement and innovation. With respect, we uphold the dignity and worth of our partners. And through gratitude, we acknowledge and appreciate the role of each party in our business journey.

Securing good business relationships is not a one-time task but a continuous endeavor, demanding our attention and dedication. Yet, the rewards are worth it – a thriving business, satisfied partners, and the satisfaction of knowing that we contribute positively to the business ecosystem.

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How to Negotiate a Business Deal: Tips & Strategies

How to Negotiate a Business Deal: Tips & Strategies

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Read time: 7 min

 

May 17, 2023

Summary:

A business deal is an arrangement that brings together two or more parties, each with their unique offerings, in a bond of exchange. This exchange could involve products, services, financial assets, or other resources. The process of forming this agreement requires astute business negotiations to ensure the outcome is equitable and favorable for all parties involved.

Best Outcomes of a Successful Business Deal

The use of potent and effective negotiation strategies can not only enhance the quality of the deal but also cultivate more robust business relationships. Good negotiation can:

1. Strengthen relationships: Through open dialogue, you can foster trust and mutual respect, leading to more robust partnerships.

2. Improve communication: Negotiations provide an opportunity for clear and direct communication, ensuring all parties understand each other’s needs and expectations.

3. Generate a win-win situation: Effective negotiation aims for a situation where both parties feel they have gained, fostering continued cooperation.

4. Increase chances of long-term success: Successful negotiation can lead to lasting partnerships, yielding benefits for a prolonged period.


Preparation

Going in blind is never an optimal strategy for any endeavor, especially in business. Here are some practical steps to how you can prepare yourself for this process to secure the best possible outcome for all sides involved.

Do your research

Entering business negotiations without comprehensive research is akin to venturing into the wilderness without a map. Understand the other party’s strengths and weaknesses, their business objectives, and the factors influencing their decisions.

Familiarize yourself with their market standing, competition, and customer base. This knowledge will guide you in crafting effective negotiation tactics and help you to anticipate their point of view.

Set Your Goals

Without clear objectives, a negotiation can quickly devolve into a vague discussion. Start by outlining what you hope to achieve from this deal – it could be a specific price, a volume of goods, a partnership duration, or other specific terms. 

Be clear about the value you bring to the table and how this deal aligns with your short-term and long-term business goals.

Know Your Limits

Every negotiation involves a level of compromise. Therefore, it’s crucial to determine your boundaries ahead of time. 

Establish your “walk-away” point – the minimum outcome you are willing to accept. Knowing this limit will ensure you remain in control and do not make concessions that could harm your business interests in the long run.

negotiation

Negotiation

Be Flexible

Good negotiation is not about maintaining a rigid stance but adapting to the evolving conversation. While you should not compromise on your limits, be open to alternative solutions and innovative ideas. 

Approach the negotiation with a problem-solving mentality, aiming to create a win-win situation for both parties.

Use Your Leverage

Recognize the unique value that your product or service brings to the potential partner. This value is your leverage during the negotiation. It could be a unique feature of your product, the reputation of your brand, or your capacity to deliver large volumes quickly. 

Make sure the other party fully understands these advantages and how they can benefit their business.

Be Assertive

Negotiation requires a careful balance between firmness and respect. Communicate your needs and expectations clearly, without appearing aggressive. 

An assertive, respectful tone can create a positive atmosphere for a balanced negotiation.

Listen and Respond

Active listening is a cornerstone of effective communication. Pay close attention to the other party’s input, concerns, and suggestions. Respond thoughtfully and constructively, ensuring that they feel heard and valued. 

This respectful interaction can foster a collaborative atmosphere conducive to a successful negotiation.

Closing the Deal

Finalize the Agreement

After reaching a consensus, it’s essential to review the terms and conditions of the negotiated agreement meticulously. Make sure that all relevant details are covered, including the responsibilities of each party, the timeline for delivery, payment terms, and any conditions for termination of the agreement. 

This is the stage to clarify any potential misunderstandings and ensure that all parties are on the same page.

Get Everything in Writing

A verbal agreement, while seemingly straightforward, can often lead to misunderstandings and disputes. To avoid such complications, it’s crucial to document the agreement in writing. This written contract serves as a legally binding document that clearly outlines the terms of the deal, the responsibilities of each party, and the consequences of non-compliance. 

This written confirmation is a critical step in formalizing your business deal and safeguarding the interests of all parties involved.

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Conclusion

Business negotiations are an art that combines strategy, understanding, and adaptability. Mastering this skill can significantly enhance your ability to forge successful business deals and build strong, long-lasting partnerships. 

Thorough research of your potential partner, setting clear goals and limits, and showing flexibility and assertiveness during negotiation is key to confidently handling complex negotiations. Finalizing the agreement with a comprehensive written contract further ensures your negotiation success.

Remember, each negotiation is a learning experience. 

With each business negotiation, you will better understand the nuances of effective negotiation techniques and strategies. So, approach each negotiation with an open mind, a clear strategy, and the confidence to advocate for your business interests.

With these tips and strategies at your disposal, you’re well-equipped to negotiate business deals that can propel your business to greater heights. Embrace the art of negotiation and unlock the potential for growth and success in your business endeavors.

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8 Tips for Building Long-Lasting Client Relationships

8 Tips for Building Long-Lasting Client Relationships

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Read time: 4 min

 

May 17, 2023

Summary:

In a world where business competition is fiercer than ever, the key to differentiating your brand lies in building strong client relationships. No matter if you’re running a small business or a large corporation, the bedrock of your success resides in the strength and depth of your connections with clients. 

This guide will provide an in-depth exploration of how to foster and maintain these vital relationships, focusing on the importance of client retention and the role of customer relationships in sustainable business growth.

Benefits of Long-Lasting Client Relationships

Investing in building client relationships carries a wealth of benefits for any business. The most significant of these is customer retention. 

A robust, mutually respectful relationship with your client fosters a sense of loyalty. This loyalty often translates into repeat business, which is generally more cost-efficient than continually seeking new customers.

Moreover, clients who feel valued and understood are more likely to become advocates for your brand, recommending your product or service to their networks. This form of word-of-mouth marketing is incredibly valuable, as prospective clients often trust the recommendations of their peers over traditional advertising methods.

Establishing a Relationship

The journey of managing client relationships begins with the establishment phase. It’s during this critical stage that you demonstrate your understanding of your client’s needs and expectations. 

Thoroughly research the client’s industry, current market trends, and competition. Your clients need to see that you’re genuinely interested in their business success, not just in making a sale.

Listen to Your Clients

Active listening is the cornerstone of building client relationships. By taking the time to truly understand your client’s concerns, ambitions, and feedback, you can tailor your product or service to meet their unique needs. 

This personalized approach not only enhances customer satisfaction, but also sets you apart from competitors who may take a more one-size-fits-all approach.

Show Respect

It should go without saying – mutual respect is the bedrock of any strong relationship. In the context of client relationships, respect translates into valuing their time, being responsive, and fulfilling commitments. 

It involves treating clients as partners and equals, not merely as a revenue stream. This respect must be demonstrated consistently in every interaction to truly resonate and create the foundation for a lasting relationship.

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Communicate Effectively

Effective communication is a fundamental skill in building strong client relationships. This involves more than just conveying information; it’s about understanding your client’s preferred communication channels and styles and adapting your communication to suit these preferences. 

Regular, clear, and concise communication promotes trust, prevents misunderstandings, and keeps both parties aligned toward shared goals.

Maintaining a Relationship

Once established, maintaining a relationship requires a steady commitment to consistency and diligence. 

It’s about being reliable, honest, showing appreciation, and continually delivering quality products or services that meet, if not exceed, your client’s expectations.

Be Reliable

Reliability is vital in building and maintaining client relationships. This means not only meeting deadlines and delivering on promises but also maintaining the quality of your product or service over time. When clients know they can rely on you, they trust you more, and trust is the cornerstone of any strong relationship.

Be Open and Honest

Transparency is paramount when managing client relationships. This means being honest in all dealings, even when it might be uncomfortable. If a mistake has been made, admitting it and finding a solution not only fosters trust but also demonstrates your commitment to your client’s success. 

Moreover, being open about challenges or setbacks allows for collaborative problem-solving, further deepening the relationship.

Show Appreciation

Never underestimate the power of gratitude in maintaining and strengthening client relationships. Expressing your appreciation lets your clients know that you value their business and don’t take them for granted. 

This can take many forms, from a simple “Thank You” note to more elaborate gestures such as client appreciation events or gifts. The key is to make your appreciation genuine and personal, reflecting the unique relationship you share with each client.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, building client relationships is not a one-time effort but a continuous process. It requires a thoughtful balance of establishing a foundation, actively listening, showing respect, communicating effectively, and maintaining the relationship through reliability, honesty, and appreciation.

This process is both an art and a science, requiring a deep understanding of human nature and a strategic approach to business. 

But the rewards are worth the effort. Strong, lasting client relationships bring repeated business and referrals and create a network of advocates for your brand.

Building and maintaining these relationships requires commitment and consistency, but the payoff is significant. It leads to greater client satisfaction, increased customer loyalty, and a stronger, more resilient business. 

So whether you are just starting your business journey or looking to strengthen your existing client relationships, these eight tips will guide you toward lasting success.

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How To Land Your Dream Job: 11 Tips For Preparing For A Job Interview

How To Land Your Dream Job: 11 Tips For Preparing For A Job Interview

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Read time: 4 min

 

April 25, 2023

Summary:

Job interviews can be stressful. However, if you know what to look for, you can better prepare yourself and increase your chances of success. In this blog post, we’ll give you tips and advice on how we think you can prepare for a job interview. We cover important topics such as researching the company, preparing answers to common questions, dressing appropriately, and other tips that can turn the interview from stressful to successful.

Getting into the right mindset

Job interviews can be stressful. But if you know what to look for, you can better prepare yourself and increase your chances of success. In this blog post, we’ll give you 10 essential tips and advice on how to prepare for a job interview and impress your employer.

We cover important topics such as researching the company, preparing answers to common questions, dressing appropriately, and other tips that can turn the interview from stressful to successful.

1. Do your research

Surely you first read our blog on how to spruce up your LinkedIn profile, right? Now that you’ve done that, you can focus on researching the company before the interview.

Find out what the company does, what its mission is, what its values are, and who its customers are. You can find this information on the company’s website or social media pages. By demonstrating your knowledge of the company, you show your interviewer that you’re interested in the position and are taking the interview seriously.

2. Prepare answers and practice your skills

Prepare for your interview by researching and practicing answers to frequently asked questions. You can find a list of frequently asked questions online, or ask someone who has undergone a similar interview. Here are some common interview questions:
“Why do you want to work for this company?”
“What is your biggest weakness?”
“Tell me about a time when you failed.”

You can also practice with friends, family or in front of a mirror. Pay attention to your body language, tone of voice, and eye contact. Practicing your answers beforehand will make you feel more confident and in control during the interview, reducing the risk of surprises or nervousness.

3. Dress for the occasion

Even if your company’s dress code is casual, it’s important to dress professionally for your interview. This will show your interviewer that you respect the company and take the interview seriously. Also, make sure your clothes are clean and wrinkle-free.

4. Be confident and believe in yourself

It’s crucial that you appear confident, calm, and collected during the interview. Speak clearly and calmly, maintain eye contact, and use a professional tone. If you’re nervous, take a deep breath and encourage yourself you’re ready to do this.

5. Be prepared to discuss every aspect of your resume

Be ready to discuss every point on your resume, including your work history, accomplishments, and impressions of each job. This shows the interviewer that you’re well prepared and have nothing to hide.

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6. Highlight your skills and experience

Show your skills with specific examples and explain how they relate to the job for which you’re applying.

7. Pay attention to your body language

Body language is just as important as what you say. Sit straight, make eye contact, and smile, but not too much. Don’t fidget or slouch; this can make you seem nervous or indifferent.

8. Know the job description by heart

Familiarize yourself with the job description, so you can tailor your answers to the position you’re applying for. This will show your interviewer that you’re interested in the job and know it inside and out, making it easier for them to select you.

9. Familiarize yourself with the company culture

Knowing the company culture will help you show your interviewer that you’re a better fit than your competitors. This includes understanding the company’s values, work environment, and social media presence. This will also help you answer the interview questions correctly and determine whether the company fits you.

10. Going remote

Unsure of the remote etiquette? Check out our tips on how to shine as a remote employee.

11. Remember to follow up

Following up with the interviewer after the interview is always a good idea. Send them a thank-you email for their time, and re-emphasize your interest in the position. This secret spice lets them know just how serious you are about this position and how much you value their time.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, interviews can be intimidating, but preparing for an interview can take the nervousness away, which is crucial to performing your best if you want to land that dream job. We hope we’ve been able to give you a few tips to make the whole process easier and give you more confidence in getting the job you want.

If you follow all these steps, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the interview and getting the job you want. Of course, you can always check out our job postings or drop your resume off with us. Good luck, and you got this.

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8 Effective Ways To Build Trust On Your Website

8 Effective Ways To Build Trust On Your Website

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Read time: 7 min

 

April 25, 2023

Summary:

Trust is the most valuable currency in this digital landscape we all live in. It’s a herculean effort to gain it, and takes a second to lose it forever.

That’s why we created this blog, to share some tips and tricks on how to effectively build trust on your own website. But first, let’s discuss how trust works in the business world.

What is a trustworthy website?

A trustworthy website gives its visitors a sense of security, credibility, and reliability. An ideal site is easy to navigate, provides crystal clear information about the product or service, and has evidence to back it up.

Here’s what you can do to build one:

1. Understand the Hierarchy of Trust

80 years ago, Abraham Maslow created the famous hierarchy of needs that explains the order of basic human needs, from food and safety, all the way to self-actualization.

Following Maslow’s step, Nielsen Norman Group created the idea of the pyramid of trust. The thought behind it is that trust must be built gradually between humans or businesses.

And you gain trust by overcoming their doubts. When building a website, it’s important to assume that first-time visitors will be skeptical, and it is the responsibility of the website owner to fulfill their needs and increase their comfort level.

Here’s what the pyramid of trust looks like.

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2. Leverage levels of trust

When visitors come to your site, there isn’t any trust established yet. However, as you fulfill their needs, they move up until they’re willing to commit to your brand, product, or service.

Here are some questions that a visitor might ask on each of these levels.

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For example, if your visitors are still on the first level, it is not wise to ask them for a name or an email. That request belongs to the third level, and there’s a big chance you might lose them if you ask prematurely.

Of course, these questions will not be articulated exactly like above. But you can safely assume these questions lie in the back of their mind, whatever they are thinking at that moment.

Now that you understand the dynamic of your demands and visitors’ needs, let’s dive into concrete tips and tricks to improving trust on your website.

3. Provide clear information

It’s vital to make sure your website is easy to navigate and has a clear message about your brand and what you offer.

This refers to every segment of the site, from the product descriptions to the contact information. The more information you provide, the more trustworthy you appear.

4. Showcase credibility and reviews

One word from others about you replaces a thousand words you have to say about yourself. That’s why you must prove your credibility. Take every opportunity to show off your reviews, credentials, and ratings.

They are some of the most potent weapons in your arsenal. Here are some of the most effective ways to build credibility.

5. Capitalize on graphic design

If you want to have a website that commands trust, your messaging should be paired with aesthetically pleasing graphic design. Without that, all your efforts at building a trustworthy website will go down the drain.

High-quality graphic design will significantly improve your website’s visual appeal, boost your brand recognition, and provide a much better overall browsing experience.

6. Use security badges.

Just like with reviews and credibility – show your badges! Especially if you have an industry-specific badge that means something in that world, don’t be shy to show it.

Whether it’s SSL Certificate, BBB Accreditation, or some other quality guarantee, put it somewhere visible and be proud of it.

7. Include testimonials

Testimonials are proof that others had a positive experience doing business with you, while at the same time, they signify to others that they can expect the same.

You can supplement your testimonials with specific examples that showcase how your product or service has helped past customers.

Basically, testimonials are the modern equivalent of referrals. The more you have them – the more people will believe in you.

8. Optimize for mobile

52.08% of all web visits come from mobile devices. And you should adapt your website to that fact. If some of that 52% come to your website and find a clunky, unoptimized, and slow website, the trust in your brand goes down the drain.

That means you lose a significant amount of potential traffic and customers. Plus, Google and other search engines favor mobile-friendly websites in their search results and penalize those that aren’t.

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Conclusion

Building a trustworthy website is more about putting yourself in customers’ shoes and less about following exact steps.

Building trust requires a combination of clear information, credibility, reviews, visuals, security badges, testimonials, and mobile optimization.

Implementing these tips will surely increase trust and confidence in your website. But why stop there?

Assist-o can help you discover dozens of other ways to increase trust and build a website for you that will dominate every result page.

All you have to do is contact us, and we’ll be at your service!

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The Power Of Good Copywriting:  Why You Should Invest In Quality Writing

The Power Of Good Copywriting: Why You Should Invest In Quality Writing

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Read time: 6min

 

April 25, 2023

Summary:

If you want to build a strong online presence, copywriting is the driving force behind your success. Whether you want to promote your brand, sell your products or services, or provide your audience with valuable and engaging content, good copywriting is the backbone of your success.

In this blog, we want to help you understand the importance of quality copywriting, how it can benefit your business, and why having a team of professional copywriters will pay off later.

What is Copywriting?

In essence, copywriting is a goal-driven type of writing reserved for business and commercial purposes. Or, if you want a more easily digestible definition:

“Copywriting is the process of writing persuasive marketing and promotional materials that motivate people to take some form of action, such as make a purchase, click on a link, donate to a cause, or schedule a consultation.”

Basically, it’s about putting together written content to persuade and inform the reader. It can be used in almost any medium, from marketing to public relations.

The art of copywriting has been around since the 1950s, but with the advent of the Internet and digital life, various forms of copywriting have evolved.

Below you’ll find three fundamental types of copywriting that will help you understand their different purposes. Click here if you want to learn more about other types.

Business-to-business (B2B) Copywriting

B2B copywriting is the art of creating persuasive and enticing content that specifically targets other businesses rather than individuals. Basically, it’s about a business wanting to do business with other businesses.

Business sales material is usually mind bogglingly boring. Nevertheless, these points need to be conveyed in a clear and conversational tone. To write at this level, the copywriter must develop a deep understanding of the environment, the specific challenges of the product, the goals, and the key pain points of the target audience.

In B2C communication, a copywriter can and should appeal to the emotional senses of their target audience and trigger their unconscious impulses. But in the B2B environment, these tricks don’t work because they aren’t communicating with people, but with companies. That’s why they have to prioritize logic and reason if they want to get their point across.

Content Marketing

If you want to educate, inform, and entertain your audience without sounding like just another marketing agent, content marketing is your answer. Content marketing is a long-term strategy that builds trust by providing value to customers while strengthening your authority over the competition.

The basic idea is to attract potential customers with valuable information they wouldn’t get anywhere else. And it’s all done on the premise that they’ll get even more if they buy from you. This type of marketing takes many forms: blogs, infographics, webinars, social media posts, etc. And it’s easy to see that a good copywriter is critical to success.

SEO Copywriting

SEO, short for Search Engine Optimization, is the process of adapting your website copy to the search engines so that it appears as close to the top results as possible. This includes using specific keywords and phrases in the content to help it rank higher in the SERPs – Search Engine Results Pages.

SEO copywriting helps you improve your website’s visibility in search engines, which ultimately leads to more traffic and sales. And if you’re still not convinced, here’s some great information on why SEO is so important.

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Benefits of Copywriting

Now that we’ve learned the basics of copywriting, let’s dive into how high-quality copywriting can benefit your business.

1. Engaging and persuasive content

Good copywriters engage. They persuade. They inspire.

All to get your potential customers further into the funnel and convince them to take action, whether it’s buying, subscribing to a newsletter, or liking and sharing your post on social media.

Great copywriting is all about connecting with your audience and understanding what moves and motivates them. By crafting a compelling narrative that addresses their specific pain points, the copywriter builds a strong emotional connection with the reader, and encourages them to move through the funnel all the way to purchase.

2. Increased conversions

Persuasive copywriting will significantly increase your conversions.

Some of the most potent tools in a copywriter’s arsenal that guarantee conversions are: knowing how to create a sense of urgency, focusing on benefits and not features, using social proofs, and crafting compelling calls to action.

Copywriters use all these tools to effectively communicate value of your product or service. If they can convince the customer that their product has value for them, you can bet that that conversion is just around the corner.

3. Improved SEO

High-quality copywriting will significantly improve your SEO efforts and help you rank better in SERPs.

That’s why it’s important to abide by SEO guidelines when writing copy, as this will ultimately increase traffic and sales to your website. Any copywriter worth their salt knows how to incorporate the right keywords into their content, build links, optimize meta tags and descriptions, and ultimately deliver content that will rank at the top of search engine results pages.

4. Brand awareness

Memorable and engaging content is essential to building a strong brand identity.

The messaging, the way you address your audience, and the unique angle from which your product or service is presented are all crucial elements that will boost your brand awareness. Good copywriting develops a strong brand voice, creates a Unique Value Proposition (UVP) that sets you apart from competitors, and provides consistent and memorable messaging that will stick in people’s minds.

good-copywriting

Why copywriting matters

Now that we’ve explored the main benefits of copywriting, let’s look at why it’s necessary for your business.

1. Firsts Impressions are everything

In today’s digital age, where attention spans, and reading levels are critically low, first impressions usually determine your success with a potential client.

Quality copywriting helps you make a great first impression and lead your visitors further down the funnel – all the way to the purchase.

2. Stand out from the competition

High-quality copywriting helps you differentiate your brand from the competition.

However, our experience shows that a good copywriter makes you memorable. A great copywriter makes you unforgettable.

3. Build trust

Without an audience that trusts in your brand, it’s impossible to establish yourself as an authority in your industry.

That’s why you need superb messaging to inspire trust in your brand.

copy-that-converts

Conclusion

Copywriting isn’t easy and can be frustrating at times. But, it’s a crucial skill to get your message across to your target.

Whether you want to improve your online visibility, increase your conversion rate, or build your brand identity from scratch, Assist-o can help you achieve your goals.

Our team of professional writers and editors specializes in creating high-quality content that resonates with readers and propels them to action.

Contact us, and we’ll help you take your content to the next level.

Featured posts

Step-by-step guide: How to write a blog post

Step-by-step guide: How to write a blog post

Contrary to popular belief, writing a blog post isn’t as easy as it looks. While your thoughts may make sense in your head, putting them down on paper adds a certain amount of pressure. When you think about it, it’s no wonder you feel wary about writing stuff down. Once it’s in black and white, it seems more real than when you keep it in that floating state in your mind. And immortalizing your thoughts on the internet? That’s when you realize that things just got real.

Soon you find yourself torn between the urge to express yourself and the fear of doing it the wrong way. No matter if it’s the first or the umpteenth time you’re about to write, the jitters remain. As any writer out there, you want people to want to read what you have to say. SEO, CTAs, and conversions aside, what you really want to do is bring value. Since you found your way to this article, you want to know more about creating useful content. But before we dive into how it’s done effectively, let’s first cover what and why.

What is a blog post?

Long story short, a blog post is a piece of text that’s published in the Blog section of a website. As it usually goes with written content, a blog post covers a specific topic and varies in length. The length and topics will depend on the type of blog you’re writing for and the guidelines set for writers.

For example, at Assist-o, the default length of a blog post is no less than 1200 words. That said, even though we did set a minimum, we opted for not setting the maximum. While this might be strange to some, the thought process was simple: if you have a lot to say without repeating yourself, go ahead. And if it turns out to be much longer than expected? We can simply break it up into multiple blog posts. It’s a win-win situation.

Besides the obvious component of a blog post, that being the text, you can also add media. Whether it’s images, videos, infographics or something else, it should add value. You can use media to illustrate your point, break up a wall of text, make your readers laugh – the possibilities are endless. Now, since most businesses decide to have a website Blog section, there has to be a reason behind it, right?

Benefits of having a Blog section on your website

The obvious benefit of having a business website Blog section? You can publish news about your company or opinions on industry developments. But when you think about it, your business’ blog is much more.

Writing about industry-related topics helps you increase your credibility. If you do it often and well, it will also result in greater brand awareness. And if your readers love your blog, they are likely to recommend it to friends as well, which will drive traffic to your website. See where I’m going with this? A good blog brings in more traffic, which brings in more conversion opportunities.

Choosing the right blog post format

Let’s start by acknowledging that, when it comes to blog posts, there’s no format to rule them all. Yes, there are many types of blogs out there, but what form is best for what you’re writing about depends on, well, what you’re writing about. To present your topic as well as possible, you have the choice among the following formats.

Question mark posts

These usually answer questions that start with what, why, and how to. As you already know based on the amount you’ve seen, they are highly popular. The main goal here is to educate your readers, meaning you’ll need to explain your topic.

List posts, also referred to as listicles

You’ll have no problem recognizing them when you see them because the title usually gives it away. If you’re just beginning your writing quest, this structured format might be the place to start. And if you sighed with discontent as soon as you saw this on the list, I hear you. Saying that there are a lot of low-quality listicles out there would be the understatement of the century. But if you do it right, a list post can be a great piece of content.

Curated content posts

I know, sounds lazy at first. But when you think about it, a lot of work goes into research before your curated post is ready. Think of it this way: you’re saving your readers’ time and giving them all the information in one place. And to top it off, you’re bound to mention businesses and bloggers whose content you’re using. Can I get a yippee ki-yay for networking?

Interview posts

This is another format you’ll recognize right off the bat. As the name suggests, this format is great for showing another perspective on the topic. And while they share the benefit of networking with curated posts, they also hold the potential of more reach. Think about it – if you interview someone, they’re probably going to share the post with their network.

FAQ posts

These are similar to listicles in the sense that they’re great for beginners. The implied Q&A structure keeps you on track because it doesn’t leave much room for going off topic. The best part? Your colleagues in customer service and sales already know all the questions people have. Ask them to send the list over and get to answering!

Comparison posts are tricky

When readers decide to dive into this format, they are ready to buy a product or service. They aren’t sure who the best provider is, so they turn to a comparison post to make the final decision. Needless to say, you need to do your research and cover all the bases if you decide on this format.

News-related posts, also known as newsjacks

To be able to write in this format, you’ll need to be in the know when it comes to popular news stories. What you need to do then is use the news to push your agenda forward. And if you find just the right news piece that ties in with your industry, be aware that the clock is ticking. The news won’t be popular forever, so you’ll need to make sure your post isn’t too late.

Ultimate or complete guides

This may be an obvious statement given the format type, but I’ll say it anyway. Ultimate guides should be the most extensive piece of content on a particular topic. As such, a lot of work goes into writing them with the added bonus of not being allowed to miss anything. Before you start your complete guide, you’ll need to know everything there is on the topic, so this format isn’t for the faint of heart.

How to write a blog post that people will actually read

Now that you know all the technical information, one question remains: What makes a good blog post? In short, it’s a combination of text flow, some personality, and the offer of a solution. But getting there isn’t exactly a walk in the park. The writing process differs from person to person, so the following steps are in the order that works for me. They are all integral parts of writing a blog post, but they don’t necessarily have to happen in this exact order for you. Once you find your own rhythm, you can reorder the steps and make the process your own.

Make reading a daily habit

Read the news, other people’s blog posts, books, magazines, lyrics – anything. Going through others’ writing and identifying what you like and what you don’t will bring you closer to finding your own voice. In addition to that, you’ll subconsciously pick up phrases, expressions, and witty retorts.

As you read, try not to be on autopilot. For example, I always keep an eye out on word play and interesting turns of phrases. After I stumble upon something I could potentially use in a piece of writing, I note it down. I’ve always been a pen-and-paper kind of person, but any text editor will do the trick as well.

Create a list of topics

Another great thing about reading is that you never run out of topics you could write about. Besides seeing what others are doing, it lets you see gaps that you can fill. Start your writing adventure by dealing with topics that are interesting to you so you get a bit of practice. It will come in handy when you start working with clients and have to deal with less-than-exciting subjects.

Dig through the archives

Once you have your topic set, it’s time for research. Whatever the subject, it’s almost impossible that nobody in the history of the internet has never written about it. Your job now is to see what they said and figure out if any information is outdated. When you gather all the data you need, proceed with covering the same topic, only better.

It’s also important to note that collecting the facts is also a part of this process that varies from person to person. Copy-pasting useful information, memorizing it or keeping several tabs open in your browser are just some of the ways to go about it. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it isn’t distracting. For example, I find it hard to focus on how I would say something if I have someone else’s words in front of me. That’s why I choose the combo of memory and open tabs just in case. At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong way to do it as long as it works for you.

Create an outline

Whatever your writing style, an outline is the one thing you absolutely need. Besides giving you an insight into what the finished blog post will look like, it keeps you in check. Blog posts can contain a huge amount of information – help yourself and your reader by organizing it. Leave the stream of consciousness for your future novel and create a logical order for your blog post.

Keep in mind that the outline depends on the format you chose and the amount of information you’re presenting. That’s why each of your outlines will have only three constant components:

  • a title
  • an introduction
  • a conclusion

All the headings that come between the introduction and conclusion depend on the topic. If you have more than 300 words to say under one heading, break it up. Sometimes it’s as simple as removing fluff and lowering the word count. However, if the topic is extensive, you may need to add subheadings.

While you theoretically can start writing without an outline, I would strongly advise against that. The thing is, the absence of an outline shows in the finished blog post. And if it doesn’t, it means that there was some heavy editing involved. To save everyone’s time (and your own patience), start the process off right by creating an outline. Here’s how.

1 Pick a title

…And know that you can tweak it along the way. Treat the title you put in the outline as a working version – a placeholder for the real deal. That way, you can adjust it later to fit the topic better. Now, I’m not saying you should ignore the title, let your imagination run free, and create a Blogenstein. I’m saying you may be more inspired to write a concise and to-the-point title at a later stage in the process. And if your placeholder ends up being the real deal, even better!

2 Determine what your headings will be

Apart from the intro and conclusion, you’ll need to use your research to create sections. Those sections can then have subsections as needed. To give you an example, here’s the outline for the blog post you’re reading right now:

3 Add some bullet points (if you need them)

When you have your headings and subheadings sorted, there are two courses of action you can take. This will mostly depend on your memory and writing style. Some people like to add bullet points under the sections so they remember the information that needs to be there. It’s a good strategy if you think you need it. If not, you can just skip this step and get to writing.

Proofread, edit, take a breather, repeat

I regret to inform you, but the blog post isn’t done once you type the full stop in your conclusion. While you might have your first version, there’s always something that you can improve. Take some time away from your new creation and come back to it in a few hours. Read it out loud and make sure the rhythm works. If you can’t read a sentence in one breath, it’s too long.

And while you’re already editing, make sure to proofread for typos. If you have the time, go through the whole thing again later. Or, even better, have someone else take a peek and tell you what they think. This eliminates your subjectivity and provides you with feedback, which is crucial for progress.

Make it pretty

The final step before you hit that publish button is to make your blog post human-friendly. Nobody likes to read a never-ending wall of text, so make sure you break up your bigger paragraphs. And for that extra visual oomph, you can always add media. Consider stock photos, infographics, videos or memes – whatever fits the tone and topic goes.

Bonus track: Useful writing tools

As the heading suggests, here are some tools that can help you with your writing. Don’t say I never gave you anything!

  1. Hemingway Editor is my absolute favorite. It displays your word count, tracks your readability score, and lets you know when you’re out of line. The best part is that you can write directly in it, so you’re basically writing and editing at the same time. Awesome doesn’t even begin to describe it.
  2. Thesaurus.com comes in as a close second for obvious reasons. It completely cuts out the time to remember another word for that thing, giving you more time to write.
  3. Grammarly seems to still be the crowd pleaser. I only use it to check for plagiarism, but it can also help you with your grammar. Make sure you take the suggestions it gives you with a grain of salt and you’re good to go.
  4. Yoast will give you an SEO instant analysis of your text. Since you want people to find your blog post, you should optimize it – this is an easy way to see if you’re on the right track.
  5. Unsuck it prevents you from using unoriginal business jargon. If you aren’t happy with a phrase but can’t unsuck it yourself, this is the page for you. And as an added bonus, you can click on “I’m feeling douchey” for a random overused expression.
  6. Cliché finder lets you keep your writing interesting by highlighting unoriginal phrases. You’ll have to remove them yourself, but at least you’ll know they’re there.

Let’s wrap this up

Phew, that was a lot of information, but you powered through. All that’s left to do now is take what you read and start writing. If you ever get stuck and need help, you can subscribe to our newsletter and the Assist-o team will be there for you. And if you already are what some would call a writer, we may be looking for you. Drop us a line and the next post on our blog might be yours. Until next time!

Grammatically correct: 20 common mistakes you need to stop making today

Grammatically correct: 20 common mistakes you need to stop making today

Ah, grammar – the glue that holds language together. So why are we still making mistakes at something as common as using language? More importantly, does it matter? As much as we hate to admit it to ourselves, we all pass judgement – and grammar is our universal criterion. It doesn’t matter whether the grammar mistakes come from our colleagues, bosses or job applicants. Whoever it is, we’ll see them as less competent. We’ll make negative assumptions about their personality and their intelligence.

All of the above is simply an accidental side-effect that happens to the average person. But what about the so-called grammar police? Why do some people (I plead guilty as charged) seem to take grammatical mistakes so seriously? Science has been kind to us and provided the answer to that question as well.

Why do people take grammatical mistakes personally?

Before I started writing this article, the same question popped into my mind. Why do I want people to stop making mistakes in grammar? Why do I see simple blunders as cardinal crimes? Naturally, as one does in this day and age, I decided to Google it. And what I found was shocking to say the least.

I always knew that grammar mistakes made my blood boil and that the feeling was similar to road rage. Thanks to Max at Mic, it’s now confirmed. If you’re like me and can’t avoid feeling confused and enraged at bad grammar, you’ll be happy to know there’s a culprit – your brain. Somewhere along the line, that thinking organ of yours started activating your fight-or-flight response at the sight of bad grammar. Crazy how that happened, am I right? And since fight-or-flight is an automatic reaction caused by stress and danger, you don’t have control over whether it happens or not.

Next time someone asks you why you’re so annoyed, show them this article. And if you’re on the other side, i.e., one of the people who don’t pay much attention to grammar, know that we don’t want to feel this way. To help us not to, take a look at the following common mistakes – and stop making them. Trust me, it will make all the grammarians out there feel a bit better and it will help you look more professional. It’s a win-win situation. As an extra treat, I’ll even reveal some secrets at the end of the article. Spoiler alert: some grammar rules were made to be broken.

Top 20 mistakes in grammar to stop making

1. Your vs. you’re

Although they might sound the same, these two are completely different things. The first one is possessive, meaning you own something. The second one is a contraction, i.e., short form of “you are”. Consider the following examples:

Your dog is cute, can I pet it?

I can’t believe you cheated on me again! You’re such a dog!

As you can see, there’s a difference between owning a dog and being one. And yes, I know this is not a conventional example of a sentence, but I’ve found that boring examples don’t stay with people anyways.

2. Their vs. they’re vs. there

We find ourselves in a similar situation as above, only now we have another word in the mix. If you take the previous explanation into account, you’ll get to the conclusion that “their” is a possessive and “they’re” is a contraction of “they are”. The only thing left is “there”, which refers to a place.

Imagine you know a couple, Jack and Jill. They have a dog and are going to the top of a hill. If you wanted to put all of that in one sentence, it would look like this:

They’re going there with their dog.

3. Its vs. it’s

Now, this one is a conundrum for those about to write. As you know, we mostly add ‘s at the end of a word to mark possession. For example, you’re currently reading an article by one of Assist-o’s writers. So it would be logical that “it’s” means that my dog owns something, right? Well, no.

If I wanted to refer to something owned by the third person, I would need to use “its”. Notice that “it” is a pronoun, so the possessive -s doesn’t work the same way as it does with nouns. To spot this one more easily, remember other possessive pronouns – none of those have apostrophes, do they? Take a look at the following example:

Is that your dog? It’s so cute! What’s its name?

As you can see, we have a contraction of “it is” in the second sentence, followed by a possessive “its” when asked about the dog’s name. Easy-peasy!

4. Whose vs. who’s

To finish up our possessive vs. contraction part of this list, I give you two more words that sound the same, but are not. Since you now know the reasoning behind the possessive -s and pronouns, you’ll see the same logic applies here. We again have “whose” as the possessive and “who’s” as a contraction of “who is” (or “who has”). To illustrate the difference, here’s an example:

[to everyone at the dog park]: Whose dog is this?

[to the cute dog you found]: Who’s lost you, boy?

Since I’ve already mentioned the possessive -s more than once, it would be only fair to mention the plural -s as well. Typically, you’d mark the possessive -s in a word by adding an apostrophe before you add the -s (except when it comes to the pronouns mentioned earlier). The plural -s is simply added to the end of the word, no apostrophes required. But what happens when you have to make an already plural word possessive as well?

5. Plural possessive nouns

If you paid attention earlier, you’re already intrigued about this one. Surely, if you add an -s to mark a noun as plural and then an ‘s to mark group possession, that’s the end of the story. After all, you’ve done everything by the book.

I hate to burst your bubble, but there’s some fine print when it comes to adding the possessive -s to nouns that already end in an -s. In a nutshell, you will only add the apostrophe while leaving out the second -s. Here’s how:

  • A noun can end in an -s even if it’s not plural. Take for example the name Hans. If Hans has dogs, you’d only add an apostrophe after his name, resulting in “Hans’ dogs”.
  • When it comes to plural nouns, you’ll also only add the apostrophe. For example, Hans’ dogs all have different names. To find out what they are, you’d say: “Hey Hans, what are your dogs’ names?” 

6. Then vs. than

One small letter, one big difference, and one of my pet peeves. To avoid making this mistake ever again, keep in mind that “then” refers to a time, whereas “than” implies comparison. Got it? Good. Then don’t make this mistake more than once. See what I did there? Speaking of comparisons…

7. Incomplete comparisons

These always manage to rub me the wrong way. Every time I see a website heading that reads “Better service”, “Better product”, “Close deals faster” or anything similar, I wonder one thing. Better than what? Faster than what? Let me tell you why – it’s misleading advertising and the fact can be easily proven by using grammatical reasoning.

An incomplete comparison makes for an incomplete statement. If a statement is incomplete, you don’t have all the data. If you don’t have all the data, you don’t know what the company is comparing its product to. And if you don’t know what it’s comparing the product to, you can’t check it and potentially refute it. The problem here is not only cosmetic, but also moral. Those who resort to this kind of advertising are aware of the fact they’re misleading their customers and they’re doing it on purpose.

8. Alot vs. a lot

This one’s easy to explain – “alot” is not a word. I repeat, “alot” is not a word. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and Google it.

9. Pros and cons

…Not “pro’s and con’s”. Well, maybe, depending on the meaning you’re going for. Deciding is as simple as thinking about whether you want those words to be plural or possessive. For example, if you’re talking about positive and negative sides of something, you’ll use “pros and cons”. If you’re talking about the rights of a professional and a convict, feel free to opt for “pro’s and con’s (rights)” instead.

10. Between vs. among

Another simple one to keep in mind. “Between” implies two participants, while “among” means three or more. For example:

There was a misunderstanding between my friend and me.

There were some misunderstandings among the team.

11. Me vs. I

Take a look at the following sentence:

Please email those files to Janice and I as soon as you have them.

Sounds fancy, right? And there you go, the reason people use “I” in the wrong places. If you thought that’s the proper use of “I” in the sentence, you were wrong. The sentence should actually look like this:

Please email those files to Janice and me as soon as you have them.

Why, you ask? It’s simple – “I” is the subject form and “me” is the object form. To prevent yourself from making that dire mistake again, just try to remove Janice from the sentence. Now “me” makes sense, doesn’t it?

12. Vice versa vs. visa versa

Please, for the love of everything, stop writing “visa versa” – it’s not a thing. It doesn’t exist, and the proper spelling is “vice versa”. A visa is a document you get when you go to another country and that’s what it should be used for.

13. I.e. vs. e.g. vs. etc.

Since we started the Latin import portion of this list with the whole “vice versa” situation, I thought we’d continue in the same tone. When it comes to these abbreviations, there are three kinds of people:

  • Those that avoid them because they’re not sure what they mean.
  • Those that use them incorrectly, either because they’re convinced they know what they mean or because they’re unsure.
  • Those that know what they mean and use them properly.

And I bet you’ve encountered all three types at some point in your life. In order to eliminate all confusion now and in the future, here’s what those abbreviations are short for and how to use them:

  1. I.e. = id est. Translated into English, it means “that is”. You will use it when you want to point out that you’re talking about the same thing in different words. Here’s an example sentence: 

    All employees receive a paycheck, i.e., compensation for their work. 

  2. E.g. = exempli gratia. Or, in English, “for example”. Seems redundant to say, but it should be used for illustrating a situation: 

    In addition to their paycheck, the employees can use company benefits, e.g., birthday off, paid time off, etc. 

  3. Etc. = et cetera. As you can see from the example above, this abbreviation means “and so on”. Be careful about how you use it, though. Sometimes, depending on the overall quality of your writing, it can make it seem as if you didn’t feel like enumerating more examples. It’s also worth mentioning that, if you put it at the end of a sentence, you shouldn’t add a double full stop.

14. Too vs. to

To stop mixing these two words up, all you need to know is that “too” is used the same way as “as well”. In addition to that, you can use it to modify adjectives. However, there are some comma usage rules:

  1. When “too” is the last word in a sentence, you need to use a comma before it. This applies only when you use it instead of “as well”.

    I love grammar, too. 

  2. If you’re using “too” instead of “as well” and it’s not the last word in the sentence, you’ll need to put commas both before and after it.

    I, too, love grammar.

  3. Finally, if you use it in front of an adjective, keep in mind that you’re dealing with extremes.

    I love grammar too much.

When it comes to “to”, remember that you’ll find it in front of nouns and verbs (most of the time). You can use it to express three things:

  1. An action: I’m going to sign those contracts.
  2. A destination: Let’s go to lunch first.
  3. A recipient: Please take these signed contracts to Anna.

15. Affect vs. effect

One’s a verb, the other one’s a noun. When you want to talk about the act of something having influence over you, use affect. On the other hand, when talking about the result of the influence, use effect. See the examples below:

That song always affects my feelings.

That song always has a strong effect on my feelings.

16. Peek vs. peak vs. pique

The three words people either avoid or use in the wrong context. Whatever the case may be, here’s what they actually mean:

  • Peek = take a quick look
  • Peak = highest point of something
  • Pique = to provoke (positively or negatively)

Although this is not the peak of this article, I hope I piqued your interest and you don’t regret taking a peek. See what I did there?

17. Being too passive

And by that, I mean using too much passive voice when it isn’t necessary. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not a matter of avoiding the passive at all costs. It’s more of a dosage and context situation.

For example, if you’re writing content that’s supposed to be engaging and clear, using too much passive will ruin it for you. That said, there are instances when it’s okay to use it and when your sentences will sound just plain weird if you don’t. These are:

  1. You don’t know who exactly was responsible for doing something.

    e.g. The server was hacked.

  2. You know who did it, but you don’t want to say.

    e.g. Some mistakes were made during the client meeting. 

  3. It doesn’t matter who did it.

    e.g. A new office building was built in the city center.

  4. You want to emphasize who was responsible for the action.

    e.g. The report was written by me, not Joe. 

  5. You’re writing in a genre that requires you to use the passive voice, such as a scientific paper.

18. Farther vs. further

These both imply distance, so people often use them interchangeably. The truth is, the difference between them is so small that it’s been slowly disappearing for years now. That means that, in a couple of years, we might have only one still in use – my bet’s on “further”.

However, for the time being, we still use them in two different contexts. “Farther” denotes a physical distance, such as meters, kilometers, miles, etc. If we’re talking about an imaginary distance, then “further” comes into play. I know, I know – what’s an imaginary distance, right? Simply put, a distance becomes imaginary when you can’t physically measure it. Think of it this way: your TV is farther away from you than your coffee table, but your life goals seem further and further away.

It’s also important to note that you can use “further” to mean “additionally”. For example, if someone asks you a question, you might want to explain the matter further.

19. Using commas

Before you start reading this in the hopes all your comma prayers will be answered, I have to tell you – they won’t. The fact is, there are too many punctuation rules that involve commas to fit in a paragraph. An idea for a future article? We’ll see. For now, we’ll go through the most common use cases.

  1. The Oxford comma. I love it, I use it, and I think everyone should. You know when you see a series of three or more items and then a comma before “and”? That’s the Oxford comma. Whether you use it or not depends on the style guide you follow, but I’d make it a must if I could. Why? Because it can nip all confusion and misunderstandings in the bud.
  2. Separating an introductory word or phrase. As it happens, this is one of those instances when you need to use a comma.
  3. Separating independent clauses. Before we dive into the how, let’s first cover the what. An independent clause can, by definition, stand on its own. Technically, it doesn’t need the connection to another clause, but you might want to do it anyway for the sake of text flow. When you connect two independent clauses, you need to put a comma before the conjunction. The most common conjunctions that appear in these kinds of sentences are: and, but, or, so, yet. If you aren’t sure what you have are two independent clauses, simply remove the conjunction. If the meaning hasn’t changed, two independent clauses it is.

20. Who vs. that

The last item on this list, but not the least important, according to the number of times I’ve seen these two confused. While it’s true that you can exchange most relative pronouns for “that”, it’s not what happens with “who”. Simply put, you can only refer to things as “that”. Keep that in mind and avoid awkward situations.

Jeesh, that was a lot of rules to follow, right? If you’re nodding in agreement, you’re probably wondering what happened to the promise I made at the beginning. Where are the rules that you can break? And how come you can break them if they’re rules? Who decides whether or not a rule is important? Say no more – let’s get right to it.

Rules in English that were made to be broken

If you’re wondering why some rules are breakable and some aren’t, there’s something you need to know. English grammar hasn’t been prescriptive since the second half of the 20th century. So what does that have to do with anything?

It’s simple – when the grammar of a language is not prescriptive, it means there’s no group of people making up rules. It means that the rules are whatever the native speakers of the language use the most, and that grammar books are there to describe what a native speaker sounds like. That said, there was a time when English grammar was less descriptive and more, well, artificial. And that’s the period from which these breakable rules come from. Take a look and help yourself to a chuckle or two.

1. The word “none” is singular.

This might not seem like a big deal, but think about it. The rule implies that, every time you use “none” in a sentence, the verb should be singular as well. Since most native speakers use it with a plural verb, this is a rule you can freely break. To illustrate the issue, take a look at the following sentences:

None of us was happy.

None of us were happy.

The first one sounds weird, right? After all, you are thinking about more than one person, so using a singular verb just doesn’t fit. Not to get too technical, but this is what we call notional concord. If you want to know more about it, head over to Merriam-Webster.

2. You should under no circumstance end a sentence with a preposition.

While some people still agree with this one and will do anything to stop it, it’s sometimes simply impossible. Don’t get me wrong – when I say impossible, I mean impossible without sounding unnatural. If you need more reasons than that, let me tell you that you can find prepositions at the ends of sentences in textbooks, grammar books, and dictionaries.

To illustrate how ridiculous this rule is, let’s go back in history. Once upon a time, Winston Churchill was criticized for using prepositions at the ends of sentences. As a result, the famous sentence we still refer to today to show exactly how absurd this rule is was born:

“This is the type of errant pedantry up with which I will not put.”

3. Don’t split your infinitives, or else!

To understand why this ever was a rule, we’ll have to take another short, but interesting history lesson. See, there was a time when grammarians saw Latin as the perfect language. So, they used it as inspiration while writing grammar books for other languages, including English.

The tricky part here is that English and Latin don’t have much in common when it comes to infinitives. In short, it’s impossible to split a Latin infinitive to begin with – it’s all one word. Since English infinitives are, in fact, two words, sometimes you simply have to put another word between them. If that wasn’t true, we’d never have the chance “to boldly go where no man has gone before“.

Final thoughts

Every language has a set of rules and conventions that can drive you up the wall, and English is no exception. And while language evolves over time, the way we use it now has an impact on how other people see us. For that reason, it’s good to know the current usage guidelines and how to implement them.

Luckily for all of us, the times of getting a grammar book from the nearest bookstore are long gone. The internet helps us share knowledge and, with the help of articles like this one, you don’t have to be a language expert to up your grammar game. All you need to do is identify the mistakes you’re making and start working on them. Go on, bookmark this page – you know it’ll come in handy!

 

The importance of receiving feedback

The importance of receiving feedback

Practice makes perfect. No argument there. But how the heck are we supposed to know if what we’re doing is right? Well, we can’t unless we receive a different perspective on our performance. Now wait a second – isn’t that the fancy way of saying that feedback is essential for self-improvement and development? That can’t be right, now can it? Because, if it is, how come we dread it so much? And why do we run from it like it’s a plague?

If you enjoy playing guessing games, you’re out of luck this time. The answer to this one is very simple. We make every effort to avoid it because we usually mistake it for another unpleasant thing – criticism. And there’s hardly anyone who enjoys being exposed to it. So, naturally, we look for all kinds of ways to dodge it.

We all know old habits die hard, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work on them and even change them over time. And if you’re ready for your 2.0 version and you want to learn how to use feedback to your advantage, stay right where you are. We’re just about to tell you how to differentiate feedback from criticism and how to get the most out of it.

Feedback vs. criticism

To be honest, it’s not always easy to distinguish between these two. You’ve probably heard many times that the only difference is the way you hear it. While there might be some truth to it, there’s definitely more at stake than just one’s impression. So how can you tell one from another?

For starters, you need to know that feedback is always beneficial and useful. And this doesn’t mean it can’t be negative; because it can. Actually, negative performance reviews are common in the business world. Especially if you do something for the first time. But there’s no need to dwell on them. It’s nothing personal. Far from it, actually. Feedback deals with problems that can and need to be resolved, not with you. Another wonderful thing you will notice about feedback is that it’s very straightforward. So much so that it offers actionable tips and suggestions on how to make things better. As you can see, a lot can be learned from it. You just need to change the way you look at it.

Criticism, on the other hand, is a world apart from what has just been said. Unlike feedback, it is fully charged with negativity. Its main goal is to point out insufficiencies and shortcomings. What’s more, it focuses on the person who did the work, not the work itself. As it doesn’t offer any solution to the problem, it’s usually vague and non-specific. Being so damaging and demotivating, criticism often leaves you feeling wretched. But even then, it makes for a great opportunity to learn. If not about yourself, then about others. Because it speaks volumes, you just need to know what to pay attention to. Or, as Warren Buffet put it: “Honesty is a very expensive gift, don’t expect it from cheap people.”

Why is feedback so important?

Have you ever been engaged in a conversation where you felt you were talking to a brick wall? Well, not receiving any feedback usually feels that way. That’s because feedback is the bedrock of all effective two-way communication, in every area of our lives. And we all need someone who will provide it so we can improve, grow and advance.

The importance of feedback comes from the fact that, essentially, it’s a valuable input that helps us make better decisions. Some even go one step further and claim it’s a gift. Well, no matter what you decide to call it, it’s undeniably a useful piece of information that helps you recognize both your strengths and weaknesses. You just need to be open to it and willing to accept it in order to make the most out of it.

Think of it as a second opinion you might otherwise need to pay for. After all, receiving feedback ultimately means someone invested their time and expertise to help your performance go off the charts. If you look at it from this angle, the gift theory makes all the more sense. 

Now that we’ve cleared this up, make sure to take a moment before you turn defensive next time feedback comes your way. Stop for a second, recognize the value of it, review it, and use it to:

  • learn how to look at things from a different point of view
  • identify your strengths
  • improve your skills
  • learn more about your weaknesses (that’s ok, we all have them 🙂)
  • improve and optimize your work process
  • avoid making the same mistakes next time you get assigned a similar task
  • get up to speed faster
  • get better results

Now that we’ve established this, let’s have a look at its benefits in the workplace. After all, that’s where we spent most of our time.

The importance of feedback in the workplace

The fact is, we’re all sensitive to hearing about our shortcomings. And we tend to do whatever we can to avoid it. Especially in the workplace. After all, who would want to be reminded of their imperfections when you can enjoy the bliss of ignorance. You might even think you dodged the bullet every time you get by with no feedback. Well, we hate to break it to you, but there’s no better way to shoot yourself in the foot than by running away from it.

Sure, getting feedback can be overwhelming at first, but look at the bigger picture. Workplace feedback actually helps both the employers and the employees to become more self-aware. It gives everyone a well-rounded view of their performance and helps them find the right way to achieve their goals. And, as it turns out, we all need all the help we can get to figure out how to improve our performance and advance in our careers. So don’t let fear prevent you from getting it. 

In fact, to get the most out of feedback in the workplace, you need to stop looking at it as something that just needs to be done or accepted before you move on to the next project. Instead, use it as an opportunity to:

  • motivate and break bad habits
  • clarify expectations
  • learn continuously, both about our strengths and our weaknesses
  • build and increase confidence 
  • improve personal growth and development
  • boost performance 

But don’t stop there. If you have a chance, make sure to seek feedback even from your clients and customers. 

The importance of customer and client feedback

No doubt there are far more pleasant things in this world than receiving feedback from your customers and clients. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s the most valuable thing you will receive from them. So whatever you do, don’t dismiss it or avoid it. Analyze it and find out how your customers and clients feel about your product/service and company. Take their negative feedback as a friendly reminder you need to change something. Let their feelings and opinions guide you and show you how to further improve the quality of your products or services.

Bear in mind your business won’t go forward as long as your reaction to the feedback is – “No one else has complained so far”. So don’t bury your head in the sand and hope their complaint will magically resolve itself. After all, your customers will speak their minds publicly on social media even if you don’t want to hear them out in private. 

Feedback is not your enemy 

Much like beauty, feedback comes in all kinds of shapes and forms. Sometimes you ask for it; other times it arrives unsolicited. Sometimes it’s given one-on-one, other times it’s given in public. But keep in mind that open, honest, and constructive feedback is not your enemy. However, your inability to accept it and understand it in the right way might be. 

So this seems like the right time to say goodbye to the old ways and to assume a different approach next time you find yourself on the receiving end of the feedback. Don’t let fear of criticism get in your way of pursuing improvement. Instead, face it, embrace it, and take it as a learning experience no matter what kind of feedback it is.

And don’t forget: don’t take it to heart. Remember what’s been said; it’s nothing personal.