Sunday, April 22, 2012

Graceful communication from a Chico writer

2012-04-22_geshekter

When it comes time to apologize to a colleague, what are the right words? When you need to offer condolences, or break up with someone, clear up a billing error, or respond to a verbal jab, what should you say? Barbara O. Geshekter, Chico-based consultant and self-described lover-of-words, has long pondered these questions. Her answers are now available in "Words To That Effect: Well-Turned Phrases To Read, Write Or Recite" ($24.95 in hardcover from Pale Ink Press of Chico at barbarageshekter.com).

Though the book's many examples can be used in email or even spoken out loud, Geshekter writes that "even in its humblest form, paper power is inestimable. Think of the Academy Awards. All the nominees have been announced. The camera pans back to the presenters on stage. They hold a heavy, ivory colored card, secured with a glimmering, gold seal and red ribbon (at least that's what I imagine they hold). And the winner is ... anyone lucky enough to receive one of your thoughtful, handwritten communiqu├ęs." Postcards, she adds, are like Twitter in physical form.

The book opens with reflections on the importance of clear thinking. "No matter ... how vested you are in the outcome of a legitimate grievance," she says, "if you can find a way to express yourself without acrimony it's a positive and liberating experience." Her aim in the book is to provide just the right words so that the reader says, "That's it. That's exactly what I want to say."

Geshekter discusses several personality types and how to help them "hear" you. She notes that while "less is more" in communicating with men, with women, "more is more ... more words, more feelings, more often." Are you listening, guys?

Each chapter includes "talking points" (pithy observations on the topic) and "well-turned phrases" that can easily be adapted. In writing a note to someone whose life circumstances have dramatically changed, she notes that "to avoid any overtones of schadenfreude, refrain from making comparisons--good or bad--about yourself or others. Nobody will feel better to know that your Uncle Peter filed for bankruptcy four times."

The book includes lined pages for jotting down favorite phrases and important dates. It's a practical guide that's fun to read.

To the author: Thank you.

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