Receptionist Etiquette Tip: Skip That “At”

You may have been scolded in the past for ending a sentence with a preposition, but there’s no real rule against it. (Read more about this grammar myth here.) However, our virtual receptionist staff strives to sound professional in every exchange, and we typically nix one preposition from the ends of our sentences: at. Here are three common examples of when Ruby®‘s phone answering pros would pass on ending with a preposition:

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Receptionist Etiquette Tip: 3 Ways to End Silly Mistakes in Your Writing

You’ve read it, re-read it, and confidently sent it, but a scan of your “Sent” folder reveals the dreaded blemish: a goofy little typing error. Argh! Even the best proofreader is probably guilty of sending a letter or email with a silly mistake now and then. Editing your writing isn’t easy, but each virtual receptionist at Ruby® aims to be a proofreading pro. Before sending your next important email, try these three tips from our phone answering team:

1. Isolate individual words. Sure, you want to proofread for tone and cohesiveness, but it’s important to read your text word-by-word before putting your red editing pen away. Many errors slip through the cracks because we simply scan over them, so do something that will jar you out of your typical reading routine. Try reading your text aloud, for example. Better yet, read it backwards, so you’re sure to focus on individual words rather than overall content. It’s a surefire way to find missing or duplicate words.

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Commonly Misspelled Homonyms

It’s and its, you’re and your, who’s and whose: All these words are short and distinct in meaning, but despite their seeming simplicity, they are often misspelled.  These word pairs are homonyms, meaning they sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different definitions.  Sure, we know what we mean when saying these words, but spelling is a different story.  We’ve probably all experienced a glitch in our brain-to-fingertip connection at one time or another, and typed its when we mean it’s, or your for you’re

In addition to being homonyms, each of these word pairs is made up of a contraction and a pronoun. A contraction is a combination of two words, or a shortened form of a word.  Don’t is a contraction for do not.  Every contraction contains an apostrophe, and the apostrophe takes the place of any missing letters. 

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A few of my favorite sites

I’ve been writing training materials for Ruby Receptionists for the past few years.  It’s a great job–I love writing, and it’s very rewarding to play a part in supporting the growth our virtual receptionist company.  Things at Ruby are always changing–new employees being hired, new job positions being created, new protocols being instated–and that means there’s always plenty of work for me to do.  It’s a challenge, but it’s a lot of fun.

I regularly refer to a number of writing-related websites when I have questions or just want to brush up on my skills.  The three sites listed below are among my favorites.

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Speak up and Proofread

At Ruby Receptionists, we do a lot of writing.  Our team of virtual receptionists takes hundreds of messages each day.  The office is always abuzz with the sound of friendly voices and rapidly typing fingers.  Taking clear, accurate messages while balancing multiple telephone calls and remaining relentlessly friendly is no simple feat, but our team makes it seem so.  Two weeks ago, I fielded calls for the first time in many months, and believe me–it ain’t easy. 

I started at Ruby as a receptionist around five years ago, and have since taken a position that is centered around writing.  From my days as a receptionist, working at Ruby has taught me the value of proofreading.  I’ve become a borderline-obsessive re-reader in an effort to catch any and all errors in my writing.  The trouble is, re-reading doesn’t always do the trick for me, and those sneaky errors have a habit of making themselves known after an email has been sent or a document published.

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Compliment and Complement

Ruby Receptionists is in the middle of a compliment campaign.  When a member of our team receives a compliment from a client or caller, we turn that compliment into a work of art and display it in the middle of the office for all to see.  From my office, I see brilliant works of art hanging above the area where our incredibly talented (and amazingly creative) receptionists work.  Simply put, it’s really cool.  As a salute to compliments, I thought I’d write a bit about the difference between the words compliment and complement. 

A compliment is a statement of praise or a friendly remark.  I’m proud to say that thanks to our dedicated team, we get a lot of those at Ruby.  To be complimentary is to praise someone or something.

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Me, Myself, or I?

No one wants to sound unintelligent, and there is nothing like a pronoun to make us all feel that way from time to time. Me, myself, and I are perhaps the three trickiest pronouns in the English language.  When we are unsure whether I or me is the correct choice in a sentence, we often use myself incorrectly as a replacement.  Unfortunately, myself is not a replacement for I or me.  Rather, myself is a reflexive pronoun.  A reflexive pronoun is used as the object of a sentence, when the subject and object are the same.  A reflexive pronoun reflects the subject of a sentence.  

What does that mean, you ask? Well, for starters, the subject of a sentence does something, and the object of a sentence has something done to it. 

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Business Writing Blog Is a Great Resource

During a recent search for writing tips, I had the good fortune of finding Lynn Gaertner-Johnston’s blog, Business Writing.  I have since referred to this blog many times, and have found it incredibly helpful.  Gaertner-Johnston’s writing covers a wide variety of topics, and the blog’s search feature makes finding specific answers easy.  This blog also features links to several other helpful online resources.  Business Writing is the first site I turn to when I have a specific stylistic question, and it is a great place to browse and quickly learn something new.   Professionalism is very important to Ruby Receptionists, and I am thankful to Lynn Gaertner-Johnston for helping me strengthen my writing by sharing her expertise in a fun, interesting, user-friendly format.  The next time you’re wondering what to write or how to write it, check out this fantastic resource.

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