Communication Tip: Don’t say “next Friday”. Say “Friday of next week”.

Today is Monday, September 24, 2018.  Suppose that my co-worker Jessica asks me, “Can we meet on next Friday to talk about our report?”.  Does she mean

  • Friday, September 28, 2018?
  • Friday, October 5, 2018?

business-people-businesswoman-calendar-1187439

Image courtesy of rawpixel.com via Pexels

The word “next” is tricky to interpret in this situation.  By definition, “next” denotes the instance immediately after the present.  Thus, “next Friday” should mean Friday, September 28, 2018.

However, most Anglophones would interpret this phrase to mean the Friday of the next week, which is Friday, October 5, 2018.  This is not logical, but it is the dominant interpretation.

To prevent this confusion, I avoid saying “next Friday”.  Instead, I say

  • “the upcoming Friday” to denote Friday, September 28, 2018
  • “Friday of next week” to denote Friday, October 5, 2018

These approaches are clear and unequivocal, and they eliminate any chance for confusion.

If this is communicated in an email, then I suggest confirming the correct “Friday” by adding the calendar date.  Thus, I would write, “Let’s meet on Friday of next week, October 5, 2018”.  This method helps the reader to know if we will meet during this week or next week, and it adds another way to confirm the date.

 

Advertisements

FutureMakers Mega Meetup on Wednesday, September 26, 2018

I will attend the FutureMakers Mega Meetup on Wednesday, September 26, 2018.  It will be hosted by RBC’s Tech Community Team.  The registration is free but required.  Here are the details.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018
4:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building
222 Bremner Boulevard
Toronto, ON
M5V 3L9

If you will attend this event, then please come and say “Hello”!

Communication Tip: Write both the day of the week and the calendar date when organizing meetings or planning events

alarm-clock-calendar-close-up-908298

Image courtesy of rawpixel.com via Pexels

When proposing a meeting or planning an event in writing, I strongly suggest stating both the day of the week and the calendar date.  For example, I would email my co-worker Mark, “Shall we visit our client on next Tuesday, September 25?”.

Note the contrast between my proposed approach and the following 2 alternatives:

  • “Shall we visit our client on next Tuesday?”
  • “Shall we visit our client on September 25?”

Some careful comparisons will reveal 3 advantages:

  • It forces me to check that I wrote the correct pair between the day of the week and the calendar date.  This is an extra layer of quality control.
  • If I simply write “Shall we visit our client on September 25?”, then I implicitly force Mark to check what day of the week that is.  If I send that email to 10 people, then I’m multiplying this hassle by 10.  I can save all parties a lot of headache by taking the initiative to write “Tuesday, September 25”.
  • Knowing both are very helpful, but often for different reasons.
    • Knowing the specific calendar date eliminates any source of ambiguity about which day it is.  Instead of relying on words/phrases like “tomorrow”, “next Tuesday”, or “the day after”, stating “September 25” is perfectly clear to Mark.
    • If I propose a meeting on a Wednesday afternoon, Mark may immediately know that it is a bad time, because he needs to coach his daughter’s basketball team on Wednesday afternoons.  This illustrates how the day of the week is helpful for coordinating one-time events with events that recur weekly.

In the above example, I have omitted the year, because the working context between me and Mark would imply that meeting in September of next year would be rather strange and unrealistic.  However, stating the year may be helpful or even necessary for certain situations, especially if legal formality is involved.

 

RBC FutureMakers Talks – “Management Lessons from Leading Tech Teams” – Tuesday, September 18, 2018

I will attend the RBC FutureMakers Talks on Tuesday, September 18.  The title of this event is “Management Lessons from Leading Tech Teams”.  Here are the details.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

5:30 PM – 8:30 PM EDT

RBC WaterPark Place – Auditorium

88 Queens Quay West

Toronto, ON

M5J 0B8

 

If you will attend this event, please come and say “Hello”!

Mitchell Boggs on Game Theory in Behavioural Ecology – The Central Equilibrium – Episode 8

Mitchell Boggs kindly talked about game theory in behavioural ecology on my talk show, “The Central Equilibrium”!  He talked about 2 key examples:

  • when animals choose to share or fight for food
  • when parents choose to care for their offspring or seek new mates to produce more offspring

These examples illustrate why seemingly disadvantageous behaviours can persist or even dominate in the animal kingdom.

Mitch recommends a book called “Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?” by Frans de Waal.

Thanks for being such a great guest, Mitchell!

SORA Business Analytics Seminar – The role of geography in data integration and predictive analytics by Tony Lea – Friday, September 14, 2018

I will attend an upcoming seminar by Tony Lea, the Chief Methodologist at Environics Analytics.  The title of his seminar is “The role of geography in data integration and predictive analytics“.  Registration is free but required.

SORA

This seminar is organized by the Southern Ontario Regional Association (SORA) of the Statistical Society of Canada (SSC).  Here are the time, date, and location.

Friday, September 14, 2018
8:30 AM – 10:00 AM
Auditorium
RBC WaterPark Place
88 Queens Quay West
Toronto, ON
M5J 0B8

 

RBC WaterPark Place is conveniently located in downtown Toronto, and it is easily accessible from Union subway station.

If you will attend this seminar, then please feel free to come and say “Hello”!

Eric Cai Head Shot 9

Full disclosure: I work as a Digital Marketing Analyst at Environics Analytics.  Tony is my co-worker.

 

Communication and Email Tip: Propose meeting times in both time zones

When I arrange a phone call with someone in a different time zone, I propose the time in both my time zone and their time zone.

black-business-clocks-48770

Photo courtesy of Pixabay via Pexels.

This has 2 benefits:

1) I save the recipient’s time and headache from determining what the correct time is for their time zone.

2) The recipient can check if my conversion is correct.

On at least 2 occasions, this practice has helped me to identify a mistake in the proposed time of a meeting.

Arranging a teleconference via an online calendar invitation solves this problem, because the online calendar will automatically do the conversion. However, not all meetings are arranged this way, so this is still a good practice to adopt.