Spell your way to suc­cess

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - Kath­leen Be­g­ley Colum­nist

Eat­ing end­less amounts of food dis­played on a half dozen hu­mon­gous buf­fet sta­tions po­si­tioned through­out a huge serve-your­self cafe.

Watch­ing Las Ve­gas style stage shows. Eat­ing more food from the buf­fets. Play­ing black­jack in the casino. Eat­ing food again from the buf­fets. Danc­ing to live bands. Eat­ing food con­tin­u­ously from the buf­fets. Vis­it­ing lo­cal tourist at­trac­tions.

And, of course, eat­ing food yet an­other time from the buf­fets.

If you have ever been on a cruise, the ac­tiv­i­ties above prob­a­bly sound fa­mil­iar. Par­tic­u­larly the part about eat­ing. On most ships, stuff­ing your­self at break­fast, lunch and din­ner al­most be­comes a full-time job. But ear­lier this month, on a 10day Royal Caribbean cruise that con­ve­niently started in Bal­ti­more just a few hours from Ch­ester County, I threw my­self into an en­tirely new va­ca­tion pas­time. I had do. All that eat­ing was start­ing to show on my waist­line.

So what ac­tiv­ity did I be­come in­trigued with? Spell­ing. Say what? Yes, as part of its wall-towall pas­sen­ger en­ter­tain­ment, the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas held an old-fash­ioned spell­ing bee some­where on its voy­age along the At­lantic Ocean to Canada and back. The con­test at­tracted 18 par­tic­i­pants, in­clud­ing me. I signed up to see how I would fare with­out spell check.

Not so good. I lasted about a half dozen rounds un­til the mistress of cer­e­monies gave me the word, “tyran­nosaurus.” Hav­ing lit­tle fa­mil­iar­ity with pre­his­toric be­ings, I ini­tially thought she said the­saurus – which would have been within my baili­wick as a writer. But oh, no. As you prob­a­bly re­al­ize bet­ter than I, “tyran­nosaurus” is the name as­signed to one of the largest di­nosaurs that ever lived on this earth. It was ca­pa­ble of eat­ing 500 pounds of meat in a sin­gle bite, in my view mak­ing it an ideal pas­sen­ger on a cruise ship.

Any­way, I flamed out on “tyran­nosaurus,” fail­ing to win so much as an hon­or­able men­tion in the spell­ing bee. I came in an em­bar­rass­ing sixth. Ob­vi­ously, I should have paid closer at­ten­tion to the di­nosaur-laden film, Juras­sic Park. When I got back on land, I de­cided to brush up on my rusty skills. In my com­mu­ni­ca­tions sem­i­nars, I reg­u­larly write on flip charts and white boards with only my mem­ory to come up with cor­rect spellings.

I searched the In­ter­net for ad­vice. I was amazed at the large num­ber of ar­ti­cles and ad­ver­tise­ments geared to­ward grownups.

“It is well known that English spell­ing is very hard and many adults strug­gle with this sub­ject,” notes a ded­i­cated web­site called www.spel­l­zone.com. “There are many com­puter pro­grams to help chil­dren with spell­ing, but most are not suit­able for adults. You may not have re­ceived the help you needed at school, and Spel­l­zone can fill those gaps.”

Even in this elec­tronic age, I suggest that spell­ing con­tin­ues to be a use­ful trait in the work­place. One ex­am­ple is scrib­ing ideas on a flip chart dur­ing fre­netic brain­storm­ing ses­sions. Here are some tips to help if you hap­pen to be spell­ing chal­lenged.

• Fo­cus on com­mon buga­boos. Cer­tain words pose the great­est num­ber of spell­ing prob­lems. Among them are “sep­a­rate” and “psy­chol­ogy.”

But you might be as­ton­ished to learn that many ed­u­cated pro­fes­sion­als put an ex­tra “t” in the word “writ­ing” – even when they are at­tend­ing a work­shop

on that sub­ject.

• Cre­ate mem­ory de­vices. I some­times think a cor­rectly spelled word looks wrong. One ex­am­ple is “en­vi­ron­ment.” I used to strug­gle to in­clude the silent “n” in the third syl­la­ble. My so­lu­tion was to come up with the fol­low­ing sen­tence: “We need to iron out prob­lems in the en­vi­ron­ment.”

• Make spell­ing fun. Huh? I know, I know, I know. But a web­site called www.read­in­grock­ets.com sug­gests you pre­tend you are con­duct­ing a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion when try­ing to mas­ter spell­ing. “You must be­come a word de­tec­tive, en­gaged in an on­go­ing at­tempt to make sense of word pat­terns and their re­la­tion­ships to one an­other,” Read­ing Rock­ets ex­plains.

• Chant the old rules. A help­ful one is “i be­fore e, ex­cept af­ter c or when pro­nounced like neigh­bor or

weigh.” This rule ap­plies to the fre­quently used “re­ceive,” as in “It wasn’t fair that I re­ceived ‘tyran­nosaurus’ in the spell­ing bee.”

• Break words into parts. If you need to write a long word such as “nomen­cla­ture,” which refers to terms in a par­tic­u­lar field, chunk it into its four syl­la­bles: no-men-cla­ture. As in many things in life, spell­ing tends to be a cinch by the inch, but hard by the yard.

• Beef up on con­trac­tions. Th­ese are words where you re­place a let­ter with an apos­tro­phe. Two sets that botch up many peo­ple are “it’s and its” and “you’re and your.” A so­lu­tion is to say the word in full, as my new af­fir­ma­tion, “You are a ter­rific speller.” If it makes sense, use the con­tracted form. If not, go with the other choice.

• Treat your­self gen­tly. Spell­ing abil­ity has lit­tle con­nec­tion with your na­tive in­tel­li­gence. Or so I hope. De­spite my early elim­i­na­tion from the ship­board com­pe­ti­tion, I am glad I en­tered. Why? Be­cause I learned a les­son that will help me on fu­ture cruises: “Stay away from spell­ing bees and hang out at the buf­fets.

Or is it “buf­fetts?”

Kath­leen Be­g­ley of East Goshen owns Write Com­pany Plus. She gives com­mu­ni­ca­tions sem­i­nars and writes for busi­ness pub­li­ca­tions. In en­ter­tain­ing and in­for­ma­tive train­ing ses­sions, Be­g­ley helps clients achieve suc­cess by teach­ing them ways to present with con­fi­dence, write with­out stress, deal with dif­fi­cult peo­ple – and more. She has taught at 12 col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties around the na­tion, in­clud­ing the MBA pro­gram at Penn State. Be­g­ley pro­duces this col­umn packed with news-you-can-use tips ev­ery Sun­day in the Daily Lo­cal News. She re­sponds to all reader feed­back. You can reach her at KBe­g­ley@write­com­pa­ny­plus.com

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