Book Title
M: Business Communication 3rd Edition

978-0073403229 Chapter 4 Critical Thinking Questions

April 5, 2019
Critical Thinking Questions
1. Evaluate this comment: “I’m not going to simplify my writing for my readers. That
would be talking down to them. Plus, if they can’t understand clear English, thats
their problem.” (LO1)
There are ways to simplify one’s content for readers without being insulting. Writing in a
2. “Using short words makes the writing sound too simple and not very professional.
Discuss. (LO1)
A document with too many long words leaves an impression of difficulty that hinders
communication. Also, just because a word is short doesn’t mean its “unprofessional”.
3. “Its important to use business clichés like cung edge and state of the art to sound
professional.” Discuss. (LO2)
To some extent this can be true. For example, thought leaders and best practices are
current business phrases that do seem to evoke a favorable response and make one
4. "Because technical language typically consists of acronyms and long, hard words, it
contributes to miscommunication. Thus, specialized terms should be avoided in all
business communication. Discuss. (LO3)
Technical language o/en consists of long words, jargon, and acronyms. But these are
5. Using examples other than those in the book, identify some business-related terms
that would probably need to de3ned for those outside the area of business in which
these terms were used. (LO3)
Your students will probably come up with good examples on their own—but to get them
6. List synonyms (words with similar meanings) for each of the following terms. Then
explain the di4erences in shades of meaning as you see them. (LO4)
Some synonyms are listed below. They can di(er in terms of formality, positive or
negative connotations, the specific contexts they invoke, or other ways.
7. Explain what’s wrong with this sentence: “This procedure is di4erent than the one we
use.” What kind of error is this? Can you come up with other examples besides those
provided in the chapter? (LO5)
This sentence requires more precise language, a movement from the abstract to the
8. De3ne and give examples of active and passive voice. Explain when each should be
used. (LO6)
Active voice is the structure that has the logical subject doing the action. Passive voice
has the logical subject receiving the action. You will need to judge each example o(ered
9. Do you know of a situation in which a female sta4 person is referred to by her 3rst
name only (e.g., “See Joan at the front desk ”) but the higher-ranking employees are
referred to by their first and last names (e.g., “Jim Smith in Tech Support can answer
your question”)? What do you think of this practice? Is it ever acceptable? (LO7)
Probably viewpoints will di(er among the class members. Some will sincerely feel that
this is an oversight and conveys familiarity, not discrimination. Thus these people can
10. Discuss this comment: “Long sentences tend to be difficult to understand. Therefore, the
shorter the sentence, the better.” (LO8)
The statement is an extreme one. Shorter sentences do tend to communicate better than the
11. Discuss ways to give ideas more or less emphasis in your sentences. Illustrate with examples.
The discussion should review the emphasis techniques presented in the chapter: (1) how short
12. This chapter discusses several kinds of illogical wording in sentences. Give an example of
each, explain the problem, and correct it. (LO10)
13. What are the principal causes of lack of unity in sentences? (LO10)
14. Explain how the concept of unity can apply both to sentences and paragraphs. (LO10,
Unity is a relative concept. An entire paper can be on one subject and therefore have unity. But it
15. Analyze several types of business writing (e.g., a sales letter, a blog post, a business article, a
report). How is the paragraphing influenced by the genre or medium? (LO11)
As each analysis will be unique, you must judge each on its merits. All paragraphs need to
16. “Topic sentences are useful for reports and letters, but email messages don’t need them.”
Discuss. (LO11)
Any time you arrange information in paragraph form you need topic sentences. Emails, in
17. Describe and illustrate the three main transitional devices. (LO11)
18. Style experts advise against monotonous-sounding writing – that is, writing that has a
droning, “blah-blah” effect when read aloud. What advice in this chapter might help
you avoid a monotonous style? (LO1, LO6, LO8, LO9, LO11, LO12)
The advice to use active verbs and precise words, remove excess words, avoid
19. “If a company really wants to impress the readers of its messages, the messages
should have an impersonal style and should include the latest business expressions.
Discuss. (LO12)
Unduly formal language will impress some people. But its e(ect is sti( and cold to most
20. “If you can find words, sentences, or phrases that cover a general situation, why not use
them every time that general situation comes about? Using such rubber stamps saves time,
and in business time is money.” (LO12)
The effectiveness of business writing is enhanced by giving the impression of individual
21. Discuss this comment: “The you-viewpoint is insincere and deceitful.” (LO13)
If it is used insincerely, the you-viewpoint can be dishonest. But it can and should be used
22. “I like writers who shoot straight. When they are happy, you know it. When they are angry,
they let you know. That’s why I always write this way.” Discuss. (LO13, LO14, LO15)
23. A writer wants to include a certain negative point in a message and to give it little emphasis.
Discuss each of the three basic emphasis techniques as they relate to what can be done.
The writer could (1) place it in a position of little emphasis (away from beginnings and endings of
Imagine that a customer has written to complain about the lack of attention that she received when
visiting a paint store. The manager’s responding letter explains why the sales staff was so busy,
offers to make a special appointment with the customer to discuss her decorating needs, and then
ends with the following paragraph:
We do apologize again for any inconvenience that this situation caused you. We thank you for your
understanding. Please do not hesitate to contact us again if we ever fall short of the superior service
that you have come to expect from us.
If the manager asked for your feedback on this letter, what would you say? It’s full of polite
expressions. Is it a good concluding paragraph? Discuss. (LO12-LO16)
Although well intended, this ending is negative. Inconvenience and fall short are negative words. And the