Type
Solution Manual
Book Title
Business Communication: Building Critical Skills 6th Edition
ISBN 13
978-0073403267

978-0073403267 Chapter 7 Key Lecture Points, Teaching Tips, and In-Class Exercises

April 6, 2019
Module 07 - Positive Emphasis
Module 7
Positive Emphasis
LO 7-1 Apply strategies for positive emphasis use.
LO 7-2 Analyze situations for ethical positive emphasis.
LO 7-3 Explain reasons for tone, politeness, and power considerations.
LO 7-4 Identify situations for apologies.
Module Overview
Like you-attitude and reader benefits, positive emphasis is a cornerstone of building goodwill.
Students sometimes misunderstand the nature of positive emphasis. Using positive emphasis
does not mean lying or exaggerating to the audience. Positive emphasis means ethically using
language to express information in positive terms. Essentially, it is looking at the glass as “half
full” rather than half empty. Use Appendix 7-A to illustrate some basic ways of looking at
things positively.
Some negatives are necessary, though in most situations being
positive is better. As shown on PP 7-3 and PP 7-4, use negatives for
Building credibility when giving bad news.
Helping people to take a problem seriously.
Delivering a rebuke with no alternative.
Creating a “reverse psychology” to make people look
favorably at your product or service.
Students should analyze their audience carefully when deciding on
the proper approach (see Module 2). Some audiences may in fact
want negative information put bluntly—though research by Shelby
and Reinsch suggests this is unlikely for most business audiences.
Students should also consider the rhetorical situation, as will be discussed throughout the
module. As illustrated on PP 7-3 and PP 7-4, the best revision may depend on the situation.
Teaching Tip: Ask students what they think of people who are always negative or
speak using negative terms. Do students prefer the company of such individuals or
that of people who see things more positively? Ask if students would prefer
physicians, police officers, clergy, or teachers to be negative or positive. Why or
why not?
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Teaching Tip: Ask students if they’ve done better in courses where they’ve viewed
the subject matter positively. If so, why do they think so? What is it about their
energy, enthusiasm, or discipline that was different in those courses versus the ones
they viewed negatively? What might this suggest about the effect of business
correspondence written in negative terms or with a negative tone? What might this
suggest about the importance of their attitude as it relates to business?
In-Class Exercise: Have students surf the Web for pages representing large
companies, such as Microsoft, American Express, or Chrysler Corporation. Ask
students to critique the pages for their use of positive emphasis. Which pages do the
best job? Which could be improved? Do these pages follow the guidelines
expressed in this module?
What’s in This Supplement
This supplement is organized around the major questions posed in Module 7. It covers
Part 1: Key Lecture Points, Teaching Tips, and In-Class Exercises Page 101
Part 2: Answers to Textbook Assignments Page 109
Part 3: Appendixes of Handouts/Transparency Masters Page 111
PowerPoint presentations can be found at our Web page at www.mhhe.com/bcs6e.
Questions (with answers) suitable for quizzes are in the Instructors Test Bank. For student
practice quizzes with answers, see our Web page.
Part 1: Key Lecture Points, Teaching Tips, and In-Class Exercises
How do I create positive emphasis? LO 7-1
Deemphasize or omit negative words and information.
© 2014 by McGraw-Hill Education. This is proprietary material solely for authorized instructor use. Not authorized for sale or distribution in any
manner. This document may not be copied, scanned, duplicated, forwarded, distributed, or posted on a website, in whole or part.
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Module 07 - Positive Emphasis
A good approach to minimizing negative information is to deemphasize or omit negative words
and information.
PP 7-5 shows five techniques for deemphasizing negative information:
Avoid negative words and words with negative connotations.
Focus on what the reader can do rather than on limitations.
Justify negative information by giving a reason or linking it to a
reader benefit.
If the negative is truly unimportant, omit it.
Put the negative information in the middle and present it compactly.
Teaching Tip: Ask students what the difference is between deemphasizing negatives
and hiding them. What are the ethical implications of hiding necessary negatives?
Should writers be held accountable if they fail to report necessary negatives? How
can they identify which negatives are necessary?
Figure 7.1 (p. 102) lists common negative words, some of which are
illustrated on PP 7-6 and Appendix 7-B. Use PP 7-7 through PP 7-18
to show corrections for negatives in sentences.
In-Class Exercise: Have students brainstorm additional
words and phrases that are negative or have negative
connotations. Ask students what alternatives they can think of for these words or
phrases. Make a master list. Ask for a student volunteer to type the list so that you
can make photocopies to distribute to your class.
Many negative words or phrases are unnecessary. Some, such as
hidden negatives, may seem neutral or even positive on the surface,
though they become negative in context.
Teaching Tip: Discuss the differences between connotative
and denotative language. A good example to use is slang,
such as using the word “bad” to mean “good” in some
situations, versus its more common negative meaning. Ask
students to consider how connotation may change
according to audience. For instance, might the same
construction have two different meanings for two different
audiences? What examples can your students think of?
© 2014 by McGraw-Hill Education. This is proprietary material solely for authorized instructor use. Not authorized for sale or distribution in any
manner. This document may not be copied, scanned, duplicated, forwarded, distributed, or posted on a website, in whole or part.
7-3
Using positive emphasis ethically LO 7-2
Even deeply cynical audiences should recognize that when it comes to business ethics of late,
many professionals are pushing the envelope of what might be acceptable. Positive emphasis,
therefore, represents another opportunity for people to do harm if they believe simply making
something positive when it is not or omitting important information that people require is good
practice.
As PP 7-19 suggests,
The methods to achieve positive emphasis can be misused, so be
careful when using them.
Don’t omit necessary details.
Focus on what the reader can do rather than on limitations
only when the situation is appropriate.
Presenting information in type large enough to be read
easily.
Don’t obscure meaning by using less common terms.
Teaching Tip: While many people use the terms morals and ethics interchangeably,
others see a distinction, often defining the former as judgments about right and
wrong and the latter about the rules or procedures to uphold certain values. Give
students 10-15 minutes to discuss their own interpretations of these terms. How do
they define them? Where do they get their sense of morality and ethics?
In-Class Exercise: People’s perspectives on ethics may change depending on
whether a situation applies to them or not. (If you dare), ask students about the ethics
of a Web site like www.ratemyprofessors.com. Is it ethical for students to post their
opinions, regardless of potential ramifications for instructors if they are
inflammatory or untrue? Should a website allow these comments to be posted
anonymously? What effort is made to determine the truthfulness of the comments?
What guarantees are provided that the comments are actually from the instructors
student or that the same student isn’t posting multiple times? After the students
finish, ask them if it is equally ethical to create a website called
www.ratemystudent.com, www.ratemyemployee.com, or www.ratemycoworker.com
and allow people to post things anonymously. Would students be comfortable with
potential employers and other reading opinions about them with the same
parameters? Why or why not?
© 2014 by McGraw-Hill Education. This is proprietary material solely for authorized instructor use. Not authorized for sale or distribution in any
manner. This document may not be copied, scanned, duplicated, forwarded, distributed, or posted on a website, in whole or part.
7-4
Module 07 - Positive Emphasis
Why do I need to think about tone, politeness, and power? LO 7-3
So you don’t offend people by mistake.
Tone and politeness are not just issues of civility, but also issues of power. Students entering a
workplace that on the surface seems casual—employees are on a first-name basis; suits are
optional—may be stunned to learn that power structures still exist.
Tone is the implied attitude of the writer toward the reader. What makes tone tricky is that it
interacts with power. The same tone used by a superior to a subordinate may be completely
inappropriate when used by the subordinate to the superior.
Teaching Tip: Have students discuss the different forms of language they may use
with different audiences. For instance, how might students ask a friend to “be
quiet”? A small child? A parent or boss? A room full of noisy theatergoers? Why
might the way they express the same idea be different for different audiences? What
tone would they use for each situation?
In-Class Exercise: In this age of “shock jocks” and raunchy entertainment, what is
and isn’t considered polite may be hard for students to define. Have them write a 1-
to 2-page research memo on etiquette. What are common forms of politeness?
What “rules” exist and who determines them? What are current expectations for
politeness in the workplace? In society in general?
As shown on PP 7-20 and PP 7-21, students should use guidelines when
trying to achieve the tone they want.
Use courtesy titles for people outside the organization you don’t
know very well.
Be aware of the power implications of words you use.
When the stakes are low, be straightforward.
When you must give bad news, consider hedging your statement.
What’s the best way to apologize? LO 7-4
Early, briefly, and sincerely.
Students should be careful about apologizing in business. A written apology in particular may be
viewed as an admission of guilt or responsibility later in a court of law. As suggested in PP 7-22,
apologies are not necessary when
© 2014 by McGraw-Hill Education. This is proprietary material solely for authorized instructor use. Not authorized for sale or distribution in any
manner. This document may not be copied, scanned, duplicated, forwarded, distributed, or posted on a website, in whole or part.
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An error is small and you are correcting the mistake.
You are not at fault.
When apologies are necessary, as further described on PP 7-22, they should be
Early, brief, and sincere.
Teaching Tip: How and when to apologize may be
culturally determined. Have students review Module 3 for
information about different cultures’ perception of
politeness. Then have students share the cultural values they
grew up with. In what situations would they feel it
appropriate to apologize? In which would they not? Have
students share what they might do if the audience embraced
different cultural values.
Apologies alone generally fail to leave readers with a sense of goodwill. Typically, action must
be taken to correct mistakes. A message that simply expresses feeling but offers no actions may
seem “empty” to readers. Therefore, writers should plan on including a solution to problems,
rather than simply an apology.
Teaching Tip: Ask students to recall times when they received an apology but no
action on correcting a mistake. How did they feel? Did they think the apology was
sincere? Did they believe the mistake should not have been made in the first place?
If the apology was related to a business situation, how did the students feel about the
organization that issued it?
Last Word: For some students, looking at the world in cynical terms is both
fashionable and preferred. Help students to understand that seeing the positive side
of things is at least as legitimate an approach, if not a healthier one. The business
world generally expects employees to concentrate on the positive—in tone,
language, attitude, and in focusing on solutions, not problems.
© 2014 by McGraw-Hill Education. This is proprietary material solely for authorized instructor use. Not authorized for sale or distribution in any
manner. This document may not be copied, scanned, duplicated, forwarded, distributed, or posted on a website, in whole or part.
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