Episode # 36 – Write to Influence!: Col. Carla Bass

Today’s guest is Col. Carla Bass. Teresa McQueen talks with Carla about her book Write to Influence!, why every boss needs a staff that can write effectively and how to banish bureaucratic blather – We love that! Carla also shares with our listeners  some very practical tips for improving your writing skills.   

Episode Timeline

00:06Introduction and Disclaimer 01:29Importance of Workplace Writing Skills 13:29Break and Public Service Announcement 14:20Bureaucratic Blather 24:48Teresa’s Closing Remarks

“Powerful writing changes lives.”

– Col. Carla Bass

Highlights From This Week’s Workplace Perspective:

  • According to Carla Bass, “powerful writing is the life blood of an organization.”
  • Word sculpting is a methodology developed by Carla Bass that focuses on strategizing the message and then using specific tools to chip away at the redundant words (the ones that hog space) and the bureaucratic blather to sculpt out a solid hard hitting message. 
  • Every single writer is constrained by two things: 1) the readers time; and 2) space. The author who leverages time and space best wins!  

Carla’s Write to Influence! Tips

  • Don’t put the horse before the cart. Identify what is the most important part of your message and raise that to the very top. Outline the journey you’re trying to take the reader on. 
  • If you are trying to extend your influence you have to explain [your principle thoughts] in very concise persuasive language, being cognizant of time and space. 
  • Strategize and hone your message to make each word count.
  • Leave out the “Bureaucratic Blather:” 
    • Don’t use noun, after noun, after noun….
    • Don’t smother the verb
      • Instead of “provide a demonstration” use “demonstrate”
      • Instead of “reduce the amount of time” use “expedite”
      • Instead of “conduct over-site” use “oversee”
      • Instead of “provide contribution” use “contribute”
  • Don’t use words that “hog the space.” Instead of using several words to convey one thought – go for the one!
    • Instead of “at the present time” try “presently”
    • Instead of “those who attend” try “attendees”
    • Instead of take you up on” try “accept”
    • Instead of “talk about” try “discuss”
    • Instead of “prior to that” try “previously”
  • Avoid redundancy by removing words already inferred in the sentence (e.g., “He was being surreptitiously sneaky” should be “He was being sneaky.”)
  • Avoid useless words such as:. 
    • There is / There are
    • Provide with
    • On a daily basis
    • In order to
    • Moving forward we will

Carla’s Tips For Employees

To help employees take control of various situations (Job Interviews, Resumes, Performance Reviews), Carla offers the following tips:

Job Interviews:

  1. Strategize your message beforehand. Before the interview think about and have ready 3 short messages you want to leave behind with your interviewer. 

Performance Reviews (Where your employer asks for your written input):

  1. Pretend you are writing about someone else – eliminate the ego. 
  2. Keep track of what you do day-to-day and the impact of those actions. Emphasis the “what happened” as a result of what you contributed. 
  3. Prioritize and triage. What were the effects of the things you did (on a day-to-day basis)? Did your actions impact other divisions, people, organizations? Did you set new benchmarks? The further the ripples go the higher up that information should be in the information you put forward to your supervisor. 
  4. Frame the story. Details make a huge difference (e.g., Instead of “Created Handbook” try “Created an 80 page handbook, distributed to over 500 employees and integral to the onboarding of 80 new employees.”)
  5. Keep track of any accolades or compliments from customers or co-workers. 


  1. Use hard hitting verbs:
    1. Use: Developed, implemented, interacted with, created, integrated – these action words tell the reader exactly what you did. 
    2. Avoid: responsible for, solely responsible for, provide coordination, provided support – these words leave the reader asking, “what exactly did you do?”
  2. Write your resume targeting the employer. Ask yourself, “what are the employers needs?”  Tell the employer, “I can help you because I can…” instead of “hire me because I’m good at….”

Hosted by

Teresa McQueen, Esq.
Founder, Host and Executive Producer
Teresa is a skilled trial attorney (a recovering litigator!), Corporate Counsel for Western Growers Family of Companies, a published author and frequent speaker on a wide range of topics including harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace. She is a Certified Business Etiquette Trainer and hosts the Workplace Perspective podcast to help organizations of all sizes develop and maintain successful employer/employee relationships.*

*The views expressed by Teresa McQueen are her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Western Growers Family of Companies, its officers, directors, board members, employees, or members.

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