Communication Works


Let's get this straight: YOUR and YOU'RE are two different words!


YOUR means that something belongs to you, or somebody else, as in:

We'll go in your car.


Your house is made of brick.


The bank will pay you interest on your account.


YOU'RE is a shortened form of YOU ARE and the apostrophe in the middle of the word indicates where one of the letters has been removed - in this case, the letter ‘a'.

We say things like:

You're (as in ‘you are') going out to a restaurant for dinner tonight.


When you're (as in ‘you are') in a library, please don't shout.


For whatever reason, many people are using the word YOUR for both the ‘belonging' sense and the ‘shortened' sense of the world.  I'm not quite sure why this is, although I suspect that using ‘yr' in text language has been a contributing factor.

 While I have no trouble accepting that language evolves, I do have trouble when such usage can have a detrimental effect on an organisation's credibility.

 We are often contacted by organisations, whose reputation has been sullied by some form of incorrect spelling, punctuation or grammatical usage. 

 We do NOT propose that every individual has a complete set of skills in this area (although that would be fantastic), but we would implore you to get things checked/edited before they go ‘public'.  Once in the public domain, it can take years to re-establish the fine reputation you once enjoyed.  In addition, lost custom costs you thousands of dollars.


Written by Sue Saunders




Have you ever worked with a colleague or a boss who regularly asks for feedback but then promptly dismisses it, if it doesn't suit his or her agenda?  Frustrating isn't it?  It doesn't take long before you either give up giving honest feedback or decide you need to find somewhere else to work.

But what about if you're the guest who's spent a number of nights at a hotel in Queenstown belonging to an international chain with hotels in 300 locations and you have given some negative feedback about the quality of your room?  Would you expect to be listened to?

At Communication Works, we travel all over the country delivering communication training on business writing, effective oral presentations, customer service and workplace communication.  One of our key messages is that negative feedback is very valuable. In fact, as a manager or an organisation you should intentionally seek it.  Why?  It allows you to gain powerful consumer and employee insights, which, when acted on can give credibility to your brand, your brand promises and enhance your communication climate.  We believe there's no point asking the question, if you are determined not to listen to the answer.

On Thursday, I received my third call from Dennis who is determined to sell me a membership to the loyalty package offered by the international hotel chain (alluded to above) I stayed with last year. For the third time since November 2009, I told Dennis that "No, I did not want to join the Priority Club, and no there was nothing they could do to change my mind." (Especially since my business partner had already written a letter detailing her feedback about the parlous service we'd experienced, we'd both filled out customer feedback questionnaires outlining our concerns and I had repeated all the same points in my previous telephone conversations.)  Dennis was not best-pleased - I could tell from the clipped tone of his voice as he wished me a ‘good day.'

So, was I surprised when three days later I received another promotional brochure from the same hotel chain entitled ‘inspirational' and a definition of a stay at the hotel with special offers explained?  Hmm ... inspirational?  Actually I'd say deaf!

 Written by Desirée Willliamson

When the momentous events of the Canterbury Earthquake occurred at 4:35 am on 4 September, I jumped out of bed in a flash. As I tripped over the furniture in the dark and tried to make my way to my daughter's room, my next thought after the realisation that this was definitely the ‘Big One' was: Why had I not got my earthquake survival kit ready? 

It had been on my mind at various times. I had made a lame attempt when news of the Swine Flu epidemic first arose. I was reminded at intervals by public service advertisements on TV and yet I had still managed to put off organising this very important kit.

But if we put off preparing for disasters, it seems that many of us also put off those important health checks that ensure we don't encounter a health problem.

Communication Works sponsors the New Zealand Gynaecological Cancer Foundation  (formerly the Silver Ribbon Foundation) and September was Cervical Cancer Awareness month.  Some of you may have seen Fiona Paterson, the NZGCF's ambassador, interviewed on Good Morning on TV1 last month, or even heard her on National Radio on Tuesday 5 October 2009.  Fiona's key message is to take time for yourself, listen to your body and get the appropriate checks.

In other words, many of us excel at procrastination, but if we've learnt any lessons from the earthquake or Fiona's message, it is to stop, think, take precautions and above all, act!

Written by Desiree Williamson

I have just finished reading the sixth book in Alexander McCall Smith's "Sunday Philosophy Club" series, The Lost Art of GratitudeThese novels are centred on Isabel Dalhousie, a forty-something Edinburgh woman who edits a scholarly journal on philosophy, solves minor mysteries, and ponders questions of morality as she goes about her daily life.  A source of pleasure - and instruction - in the novels is the example of good communication that Isabel provides.  Like us at Communication Works she cares about clear communication, and Isabel is a master of the art.

 Isabel confronts those who do her wrong and then disarms them without turning them into enemies.  She knows that even she doesn't always get things right first time, and that there is value in returning to apologise or clarify; she doesn't risk a misunderstanding.  When her fiancé, Jamie, adds "poor chap" to what would otherwise have seemed a heartless observation about the latest boyfriend of Isabel's niece, she notes "the power of small words to do big things"; she could have said the same in the fifth book in the series, when she observes that the condescending Christopher Dove writes "you may be familiar, of course, with" instead of the more generous "you will of course be familiar with".  When, in the fourth book, she is informed by letter of her dismissal from her editorship, Isabel reminds us that a telephone call or a face-to-face meeting are more appropriate means for communicating distressing news.

 Another reason that I enjoy the novels is that the city of Edinburgh features so strongly in them; it's fun to "walk" the city's streets with the books' characters.  Unfortunately, I was jarred back to reality while reading The Lost Art of Gratitude over the matter of whether or not Isabel has a TV.  On page 42 she says, ". . . nor should children be parked in the front of the television," and Jamie (who is living with Isabel) responds, "Which we don't have."  But then, on page 94, there is this: "As [Isabel] spoke, she thought of her own armchair. The last time she had sat in it she had drifted off to sleep while watching the news."

 Perhaps I've forgotten something from an earlier book that accounts for the absence and then presence of a TV in Isabel's house, but that seems unlikely: Prof. McCall Smith is careful to remind the reader, and to ensure that his books stand alone. The occasional missed full stop and closing quotation mark in The Lost Art of Gratitude are relatively minor lapses, but the matter of the TV is more distracting. It reminded me once again of the importance of copyediting, and of how both the author and the reader are let down if the publisher skimps on this part of the process.  Here at Communication Works we can help you avoid these clangers.  Click here  for information about our copyediting service.

 Perhaps the TV question is settled in the seventh book, The Charming Quirks of Others, which I haven't yet read.  In any case, I'm sure it includes more good lessons in communication for me, and I'm looking forward to getting into it.

Written by Janet Bray

I'm friendly with one of the women who works in my local supermarket and was surprised the other day to hear that she had ovarian cancer, which had been caught early.  She was awaiting treatment and optimistic about a positive outcome.

 I asked her if she'd been to the Silver Ribbon Foundation's website and was a little taken aback when she told me that she hadn't heard about it, and that none of the health care professionals that she'd seen (to date) had told her about it. 

 While the pink ribbon Breast Cancer Foundation enjoys wide support in the community, many people are not as familiar with the work of the Silver Ribbon Foundation.  Communication Works sponsors the Silver Ribbon Foundation by helping to communicate the information and support that the Foundation offers to those women diagnosed with gynaecological cancer.

 Fiona Paterson, recently named in the NZ rowing squad's double scull (along with Anna Reymer) is a gynaecological cancer survivor and an ambassador for the Silver Ribbon Foundation.  Fiona takes every opportunity she has to help spread some of the key messages of the Silver Ribbon Foundation:

  • that the foundation exists to educate the community and raise awareness about all gynaecological cancers
  • that the foundation provides support to women with gynaecological cancer
  • that early detection saves lives
  • that smear tests detect abnormalities that may lead to cervical cancer, but do not detect ovarian, uterine or vulval/vaginal cancers.

Fi's latest interview on TV3 highlights the need for women to be aware of the symptoms of gynaecological cancer and proves that goals in life are achievable, despite a diagnosis of cancer.

Read more about Fi's story, along with other women's remarkable journeys, at the Silver Ribbon Foundation website - then spread the word!


Written by Sue Saunders


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