Voice and Effective Business Communication

Communication is simply defined as the process by which information is shared between two people or organisations, or among individuals, etc. Communication may be human and non-human in nature. Non-human form of communication may be onomatopoeic manifestations such as the mew of the cat, coo of the dove, the squeak of the rat, the cuckoo of the cuckoo, the baa of the sheep, etc. Because human form of communication refers to the exchange of ideas or feelings among human beings, one thing that is especially central to it is language.

We need to be very careful about the way we use language in communication, and this takes us to the issue of the grammatical voice. Effective deployment of grammatical voice is critical to our day-to-day communication and business success. But before we examine voice, it is necessary to look at the necessary qualities of good and effective business communication, especially business letters, as a background to our subsequent discussion.

Qualities of effective business communication

Good and effective business communication must have the following qualities: conciseness, completeness, correctness, clarity, consideration, courtesy and concreteness.

Conciseness: This refers to the idea of being brief and direct to the point. However, being brief does not mean that completeness must be compromised.

Completeness: This involves giving the recipient all the information needed. For example, if a customer has written to you to know some things about your product(s) or organisation, you have to include the answers to all his or her inquiry in your reply.

Correctness: A business letter, for instance, must be correct in information, style and structure. That is, you use the right language, format and factual information.

Remaining qualities

Clarity: Here you avoid ambiguous statements such as, “Give me more quality products”, which can be interpreted as either “Give me more of these quality products” or “I need better products not these substandard ones”. Avoid the use of complex choice of words and lengthy sentences.

Consideration: Here you put the recipient in mind. That is, you consider his or her level of understanding, interest, emotion, needs, problems, personality, likely response, etc.

Courtesy: To create or sustain goodwill, good business communication must show respect. Even in the face of provocation from a customer or seller, politeness must not be sacrificed.

Concreteness: Here, one needs to use image-building words instead of obscure ones. The tone of a business letter for instance, must be specific and active. It must sound personal and effective. It must be definite and positive.

Now let us discuss grammatical voice and its relevance to our daily (business) communication.

Voice

Grammatical voice refers to the structural distinction between an active and a passive construction, which though share the same meaning. There are two types of grammatical voice, that is, active and passive. Let us examine these two types of voice one after the other.

Active Voice

In active voice, the doer of an action is functionally referred to as the subject while the receiver is considered the object, e.g., “Adebola bought a car”. In this sentence, “Adebola” is the doer of the action and functions as the subject of the sentence; “bought” is the verb; while “a car” is the receiver of the action and functions as the object. The active voice is especially used when the focus is on the doer of the action.

There are divided opinions among grammarians and communicators as regards the use of active and passive types of grammatical voice. Some argue that active voice is better used because it is direct and concrete, while some subscribe to the use of passive voice because it shows courtesy. As a grammarian, I would like to submit convincingly that the choice between active and passive types of voice in communication depends on situational appropriateness, but not the case that one is always better than the other.

Uses of Active Voice

Active voice is used when we want to be direct, forceful or concrete in goodwill or sales letters, e.g. “We sell… We also sell other products such as….” There is emphasis on “We” in this expression and that is why it is placed in the subject position to show that it is not another company that sells the products. Active voice can also be employed in emphatic stress (that is, the stress used to show contrast), when the doer is the focus, e.g. “I said EzineArticles.com not Google, publishes the articles.” Active voice can be used to achieve economy of words or compactness in business communication. For example, “We sell oil” (active voice=three words) instead of “Oil is sold by us” (passive voice=five words).

Now let us examine passive voice.

Passive Voice

In passive voice, the doer of the action functions as the object while the receiver functions as the subject. For active voice to change to passive voice, three major forms of syntactic transformation must come into being. One, the subject and object of the active voice will interchange positions. Two, the verbal element increases in number, with the main or lexical verb changing to the past-participle form of the active-voice main verb and preceded by an auxiliary verb. Three, the preposition “by” is inserted immediately after the verb phrase (that is, main and auxiliary verbs). Therefore, “Adebola BOUGHT a car” (active voice) becomes “A car WAS BOUGHT BY Adebola” (passive voice).

Uses of Passive Voice

As mentioned earlier, one of the qualities of good and effective business communication is courtesy. In a letter of complaint, for example, one needs to be very polite and less critical even in the face of disappointment and anger. Assuming you have placed an order for some goods in a particular company, and most of the goods now supplied are bad, naturally, you will be angry and disappointed. In writing to the company, it is better to assume an impersonal tone.

If not, your anger will be anti-socially reflected and you will be seen as being rude. In this type of situation, you need to employ passive voice to be courteous. Instead of saying “I write to inform you that most of the goods YOU SUPPLIED us are bad” (active voice), it is more polite to say “I write to inform you that most of the goods WE WERE SUPPLIED are bad” (passive voice). In this second option, you are sounding impersonal by not mentioning their name, thereby disguising your anger beneath a cheerful tone, to sustain goodwill.

In a related development, passive voice is also used when emphasis is on the receiver of an action rather than the doer. For example, a company launching a new product into the market amid its range of existing products will not be thinking about inter-company rivalry now, but about popularising this latest product. Therefore, emphasis falls on the new product. In this case, passive voice is employed, e.g. “Kosa is a new product produced by us. Kosa is prepared under a very hygienic situation.” If the company starts to mention its name first and repeatedly instead of the new product, then the focus of the advert is lost, therefore the intended awareness-creation effort for the product will be fruitless.

Additionally, passive voice can be used in emphatic stress when the focus is on the receiver of the action rather than the doer, e.g. “I said articles, not cubicles, are published by EzineArticles.com.” On a note of recapitulation, we need to be conscious of use of appropriate voice type in our (business) communication. The choice between active and passive types of voice in communication depends on situational appropriateness, but not the case that one is always better than the other.

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The Seven Essentials of Business Communication

There are seven essential elements to successful business communication:

Structure
Clarity
Consistency
Medium
Relevancy
Primacy/Recency
Psychological Rule of 7±2
If you are going to communicate effectively in business it is essential that you have a solid grasp of these seven elements.

So let’s look at each in turn…

1. STRUCTURE

How you structure your communication is fundamental to how easily it is absorbed and understood by your audience.

Every good communication should have these three structural elements:

an opening
a body
a close
This structural rule holds true no matter what your communication is — a memo, a phone call, a voice mail message, a personal presentation, a speech, an email, a webpage, or a multi-media presentation.

Remember – your communication’s audience can be just one person, a small team, an auditorium full of people or a national, even global, group of millions.

In this instance size doesn’t matter — the rules remain the same.

Opening

An opening allows your communication’s audience to quickly understand what the communication is about.

Short, sharp and to the point, a good opening lets your audience quickly reach a decision of whether or not to pay attention to your message.

Time is a precious resource, after all, and the quicker you can ‘get to the point’ and the faster your audience can make that ‘disregard/pay attention’ decision the more positively they will view you — which can be VERY important if you need or want to communicate with them in the future.

Body

Here’s where you get to the ‘heart’ of your message.

It is in the body of the message that you communicate all of your facts and figures relative to the action you want your communication’s audience to take after attending to your message.

Keep your facts, figures and any graphs or charts you might present to the point. Don’t bog down your audience with irrelevant material, or charts with confusing, illegible numbers and colours.

–SIDE BAR–

There’s a key to rapid uptake of your message — KISS.

Pitch your presentation’s graphics at a grade seven child. If THEY can follow and understand them, chances are good that your audience will too.

–END SIDE BAR–

Close

The Close is where you sum up your communication, remind your audience of your key points, and leave them with a clear understanding of what you want them to do next.

The more powerfully you can end your communication, the more easily remembered it will be by your audience.

2. CLARITY

Be clear about the messaqe you want to deliver, as giving a confused message to your audience only ends up with them being confused and your message being ignored.

If you are giving a message about, say, overtime payments don’t then add in messages about detailed budget issues or the upcoming staff picnic — UNLESS they ABSOLUTELY fit in with your original message.

It’s far better and clearer for your audience if you create a separate communication about these ancillary issues.

3. CONSISTENCY

Nothing more upsets a regular reader of, say, your newsletter than inconsistency of your message.

Taking a position on an issue one week, only to overturn it the next, then overturn THAT position the following week, only breeds distrust in your message.

And distrust in you!

People who distrust you are exceedingly unlikely to take the action you wish them to take. They are also highly unlikely to pay any attention to your future messages.

As well as consistency amongst multiple messages, be aware that inconsistency within your message can be just as deadly to audience comprehension.

At the risk of sounding like the Grouchy Grammarian, please make sure that your tenses remain the same, that your viewpoint doesn’t wander between the 1st and 3rd person and back again (unless you deliberately want to create a linguistic or story-telling effect — be careful with this!) and that your overall ‘theme’ or message doesn’t change.

4. MEDIUM

If the only tool you have in your toolbag is a hammer, pretty soon everything starts to look like a nail.

Similarly, if all you believe you have as a communications tool is PowerPoint then pretty soon all you’ll do is reduce very communications opportunity to a PowerPoint presentation. And as any of us who have sat through one too many boring slideshows will attest, “seen one, seen ’em all.”

There are a myriad of was you can deliver your message – the trick is to use the right one.

Which is the right one?

The one that communicates your message:

with the greatest accuracy
with the largest likelihood of audience comprehension
at the lowest fiscal cost
at the lowest time cost
Note: it must meet all of these criteria. There’s absolutely no value in spending the least amount of money if the medium you choose doesn’t deliver on any of the other criteria.
So what media are available? You have a choice from any one or combination of the following:

* paper-based memo
* letter
* one-to-one face-to-face presentation
* seminar
* one-to-one phone presentation
* meeting
* one-to-many personal presentation
* plain text email
* one-to-many phone presentation
* text + graphics email
* voice email
* webpage
* webcast/webvideo
* radio broadcast
* television broadcast
* press release
* tv/film commercial
* cd-rom/dvd

Choosing the right medium or media is obviously critical, as the fiscal costs of some in the above list are higher than others. Get the media mix wrong and you could end up spending a whole lot of time and money on a very visually attractive business communication that delivers next-to-zero ROI (return on investment).

5. RELEVANCY

It never ceases to amaze me that business managers still believe that everyone would be interested in their message–and then proceed to subject any and everyone they can find to a horrendous PowerPoint slideshow put together by a well-meaning but aesthetically-challenged subordinate.

Screen-after-screen of lengthy text, in a small barely legible font size (because a small font size is the only way to fit all of the words onto the slide), which the manager duly and dully reads verbatim.

Ugh!

The psychological reality is that unless a person is interested in the subject of the message they are highly unlikely to pay any attention.

Which means that if you force them to attend to your message you will actually turn them against you and be even less likely to receive their attention in the future.

Save your in-depth budget and performance analysis Excel-generated charts for those who genuinely care and need to know about such things.

If your business communication needs to touch on several areas that might not be of interest to your entire audience, let them know of alternative resources that more fully address each of these additional areas.

You can do this by, for example, providing them with an easily-remembered and written link to a webpage where a greater depth of information can be stored.

6. PRIMACY/RECENCY

It is essential to know that, one week later, a business communication is remembered by one or both of two things:

the power and memorability of its opening
the power and memorability of its close
Psychologists call the effect of remembering the first few items presented as a ‘Primacy Effect’. Similarly, they call the effect of remembering the last few items presented to you as a ‘Recency Effect’.

Since individuals differ in which Effect is the most dominant for them, it is best to ‘cover your bases’ and make an effort to have both a powerful and memorable opening and a powerful close.

A powerful opening can be anything that captures the audience’s attention:

a quote,
a joke,
a loud noise,
a preposterous statement.
Just make sure that your opening remains consistent with and relates to the subject of the communication.

For example, whilst the opening line, “Free Sex is available in the foyer” would no doubt get your audience’s attention, if the theme of your communication thereafter is about some process re-engineering going on in your department, your audience would be annoyed (some would be very annoyed at your duplicity. They’d feel duped!

Equally, a powerful close that bears no resemblance to the main body of the communication would just confuse and disappoint an audience brought up to expect something more.

And don’t think that humour will save you.

Business communication is a serious business and very few people have the skill to be able to deliver a humourous message that the audience will retain and act upon.

A fantastic example of how humour engaged an audience but failed to elicit the desired response is from Jeffrey Robinson’s superb book ‘The Manipulators’.

One of America’s great comedic writers, Stan Freburg, was convinced to dabble in advertising. Deciding that his own agency should be called, ‘Parsley, Sage , Rosemary and Osborn, a Division of Thyme, Inc.’, Freburg created a series of incredibly funny adverts. On the strength of these, he was hired to create an advert for Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA), forever remembered in the annals of advertising as ‘White Knuckle Flyer’.

“He was aiming at people who hate to fly and are forever worried that planes crash. To pacify them, he got the airline to hand out security blankets — literally, tiny blankets with the PSA logo — to any passenger worrying that flying might get them killed. It was hilarious. And the airline died laughing.

“Somewhere between gag writing and all the fun,” comments Jerry Della Femina, who was called in by PSA in a panic to undo what Freburg had done because they didn’t think they were going to survive him, “someone had to sell something. The kiss of death in advertising is when you make the mistake of falling in love with your own words.” PSA had succumbed to humour and, unfunnily, went out of business.

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Intercultural Aspects of Business Communication

The most important aspect of any business relationship is communication. Today our world seems to develop into a really global marketplace, there are more and more international firms and organizations that deal with other companies throughout the world. The aim of the article is to study the nature of cross-cultural communication and the intercultural skills that can be useful in any kind of international business relationships. So it is very important to communicate the right way with the representatives of different cultures and nations as the simplest mistakes can cause terrific problems in understanding. There are many scientists and economists who worked at the field of business communication.

Among the foreign scholars we can name Fred Luthans, Larry A. Samovar, Margaret H., De Fleur and many others. The native scientists who devoted their works to the subject of business communication are N. Formanovskaya, V. Goncharov, N. Moskovcev, V. Derkachenko etc. Analyzing business as the sphere of social relations psychologists believe that success here depends on 85% on the person’s ability to communicate. While communicating we use together with some logical tools things we don’t often really understand and pay attention to. Among such subconscious phenomena we can point out the first type of communication which is non-verbal. It can be defined as “non-word human responses and the perceived characteristics of the environment through which the human verbal and nonverbal messages are transmitted”.

Non-verbal communication differs from verbal in some fundamental ways. For one thing, it is less structured, that makes it more difficult to study. Some types of non-verbal communication, such as the meaning of colors and certain gestures, can vary from culture to culture. Thus, it becomes obvious that learning, understanding and following the traditions of different cultures make it much easier to find the right direction on communication with their representatives. While words can carry just the message, non-verbal communication expressed by intonation, gestures, and even facial movements can let the opponent know the attitude of the person. Also it helps to establish credibility and leadership potential in business. For successful communication all the forms must be paid much attention to. More thoroughly we come to the approach that there are no forms of communication to be omitted. We come across the idea that all the forms must be used to get better and more completed results of communication and transferring thoughts and information.

Culture surrounds us all the time. A person may not realize it, but he constantly belongs to several cultures. Making attempt to explain what exactly culture is we can define it as system of shared symbols, beliefs, attitudes, values, expectations, and norms for behavior. Thus all members of any culture have and tend to act on similar assumptions about how people should think, behave and communicate. Cultures may vary widely. It is no wonder that most of us need special training before we can become comfortable with a culture that differs from our own. And it is apparent that any business person dealing with a foreign partner for successful communication must first of all pay attention to the cultural sphere his partner belongs to. Accepting the regulations of the partner’s culture it is always easier to build and correct the process of negotiations that way that the partner feels some comfortable.

When there appears the necessity to deal with foreign partners a manager has to learn about another culture, and there are two main approaches to choose. The first one is to learn as much as possible – the language, cultural back ground and history, social rules, and so on – about the specific culture expected to deal with. The other one is to develop general skills that will help to adapt in any culture. To become a successful multicultural communicator Margaret H. De

Fleur proposes a set of guidelines for achieving maximum results:
1. Recognize that every individual has emotions, needs, and feelings that are as sensitive as yours.
2. Try to understand the cultural norms of the partner who you communicate with.
3. Respect the customs and traditions of the others.
4. Listen actively in a co-cultural communication encounter.
5. Learn to cope with uncertainly.
6. Avoid stereotyping people who are different from you.
7. Be aware of your own ethnocentrism.

The more differences there are between the people who are communicating, the more difficult it is to communicate effectively. Among the main problems in cross-cultural business communication the scientists circle out language barriers, cultural differences, and ethnocentric attitude. More significant problems arise in forms of written communication that require translation.

As it was stated above, misunderstandings are especially likely to occur when the partners who are communicating have different cultural backgrounds. For example, one side of negotiations makes a message in one context, using assumptions common to people in his or her culture. The other side of negotiations decodes the message using absolutely different set of assumptions. The result is confusion. Such problems arise because of our unconscious assumptions and non-verbal communication patterns. Often the fact that people from different cultures differ from each other in many ways is ignored.

According to the recommendations of scholars such as I. Kuznetsov, V. Goncharov, V. Suharev and others it is possible to circle out certain rules to follow while communicating: try to eliminate “noise”; look for feedback; rephrase your sentence when necessary; use objective, accurate language; let other people finish what they have to say. Culture and communication are inseparable. Culture influences the way people behave, the language they use and gestures they employ. In its turn, all this makes an impact on the traditions of dealing with business partners. That’s why in recent years the interest of communication theorists, scholars, scientists, and researchers was engaged with cross-cultural communication. Anyway, when engaging in any form of communication, a speaker must take into account the possibilities of misunderstanding. That’s why it is so important for a business person to develop skills with the help of which it becomes possible to control and correct the communicational situation with cross-cultural partners. Nowadays, intercultural communication difficulties have become a source of misunderstanding in business relations of our multicultural world society.

The process of globalization makes modern businessmen pay more attention to developing skills of running a business with foreign partners. That’s why the ideas on both organizational behavior and norms of communication stated in the article have become one of the most essential approaches to the successful running of business in the modern world community.

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Emerging Trends in Business Communication

Communication is perceived as relying of messages between two or more parties. Communication has grown to more than just relaying a message. Communication is a mutual transmission of ideas, opinions and questions leading to a common understanding or in some cases misunderstandings. Communication has proved to be a make or break aspect of every business and many businesses are scrambling to keep up with the fast growing world of business communication.

Growth of business communication infrastructure.

Over the last half decade, businesses have greatly invested in modern communication systems that facilitates quick and efficient exchange of both oral and written communication. According to Cisco Systems, largest provider of business communication solutions, equipment sales have been on the rise and more notably teleconferencing equipment and internet gadgetry. In the heart of modern communication we have the internet.

High speed internet has been in high demand owing to the increasing literacy levels all over the world. In the last three years, over ten fibre optic lines have been laid down in the Indian ocean with African countries being on the forefront to connect their citizens to high speed internet. South Africa, Kenya and Ghana are the highest internet consumers in Africa. In fact, Kenya is referred by many as the Silicon Valley of Africa.

Emerging trends in business communication.

Social media. Businesses are literary taking work to where the play is. There are over 1 billion Facebook user and nearly half a billion twitter and there is no way you can ignore such numbers. Many successful businesses have established customer care teams that interact and answer customer questions using social media platforms. You can barely go thirty minutes on Facebook without coming across a business advert. Social media is both fun and cheap to use making it a preferred marketing tool.

Outsourcing. This is a cost cutting move that businesses are employing to enhance customer service and feedback collection. With advancement in technology, customer desks can be located thousands of miles away from your business establishment. A business can have a 24hrs customer’s desk without paying a single cent as allowance.

Teleconferencing. Although it has been there for a while, teleconferencing has advanced with many businesses holding their AGMs remotely using telecommunication facilities.

A look into the future.

With many businesses on the final stages of recovery from the great recession, the future looks promising especially for small businesses. In a study conducted by Lloyds TSB Commercial, 42% of firms expect an increase in orders spreading over first six months of 2013. 44% are confident that sales will increase in the same time period while others are anticipating an increase in profits. Almost half of the firms involved in the study plan on allocating more to communication infrastructure and media advertising.

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Types of Business Communication Skills

Business communication skills are a daily fraction of the business method and their effectual use can increase the likeliness of achieving accomplishment. Successful communication skills are second-hand to express a precise message that the receiver can comprehend.

At what time considering how to build a business victorious, high-capacity business society, high pressure surroundings and lots of currency may get nearer to mind. Even though these aspects may contribute to the go up of a industry, an assortment of essential skills is caught up in supporting that company.

Without business communication, it will be unfeasible to keep strong relationships with your employees and with your customers. In fact, deprived message skills can escort to mistakes, lost income and clients, plus displeased employees. Big business communication encompasses a lot of things. Advertising, marketing, speech writing, sales, product growth, and investor relations — the roll goes on. Apart from of the industry, the four most vital areas of business message are public speaking/presentations, marketing, social media and networking.

Big business Communication used to endorse a manufactured goods, service, or organization.Business communication is fairly dissimilar and matchless from other types of communication since the point of business is to make money. Therefore, to develop productivity, the communicator should expand good statement skills.

Being unbeaten in business is dependent on your talent to communicate successfully. Quite a few different kinds of communication skills are obligatory.

External business communication:

External communication refers to any communication you have with customers, vendors, and populace that are exterior the company. These people help to maintain your business prosperous by offering you low prices on unprocessed goods and purchasing products from your companionship. When you are dealing with external communication, it comes down to your skill to reach everyone approximately you. External business communication is just as imperative to the life and vivacity of a business as internal communication. External business communication places focal point on the relationships and a mixture of audiences that are outside of the company. External communication’s main phrase is through public relations, media relations, marketing management and advertising. Doing well businesses exploit effective internal and external business communication to achieve the company’s goals and task.

Internal business communication:

While you are dealing with internal business communication, you are working on the flow of the business. Internal communication is frequently harder to work on from external communication because you have a handful of different personalities that require your direction on a day by day root. Every person is going to come with their own preferences as to how things should be ended in the place of work and breaking them free of this state of mind can be challenging. Internal Communication, in a business framework, is the dialog procedure amid employees and employer. Where the ‘top-down’, employer-driven communication is immense for setting a communication program or conversation spot, it is the peer-to-peer employee communications that resolve the manner of the reply back to the employer. As a result, to sum up, ‘Internal Communication’ is the conversations that businesses have with their employees and those workers have by means of each other.

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The Benefits of Stainless Steel Roller Chains

Typically, roller chains can be found in a lot of mechanically powered systems. For instance, you can find them in a number of environments like automotive industries and agriculture systems. Examples of automotive industries they are used in are bicycles and motorcycles. In this article, we are going to take a closer look at some of the common benefits of roller chains made of stainless steel. Read on to find out more.

Rollers chains are also commonly used in conveyor belts and many other industrial assembly environments. Aside from this, you can find these systems in many other environments too.

Advantages of Stainless Steel Roller Chains

Although these products are made of other metals as well, stainless steel is the most common one. This is because this metal offers a lot of benefits. Some of them are listed below. Please note that this list doesn’t talk about all the benefits the unit offers.

Food Applications

Stainless steel roller chains are quite popular in the food industry for many reasons. One of the main reasons is that the steel offers immense strength unlike other metal types you can find and use.

Therefore, products made of this metal can withstand even extreme conditions. Another good thing is that it’s much easier to clean. For instance, in an environment where food packaging, processing and handling is done, you may need to clean the chain more frequently. This is what makes these roller chains a great choice.

Temperature Resistance

Another great thing about these roller chains is that they can work fine even if you place them in an environment where temperature exceeds 400 Celsius. In the same way, they won’t stop working even if you use them in a place where temperature drops below -20 Celsius. This is what makes it an ideal choice in environments that are not good for other metals.

Corrosion Resistance

They are also corrosion resistant even if used in acidic or alkaline environments. In many industries, these roller chains are used either in alkaline or acidic settings. This is why they are preferred in a lot of industries. Aside from this, it offers quite low magnetic permeability. Therefore, we suggest that you opt for them instead of other options out there.

Heat-Treated

Another good thing about these chains is that they are heat treated for a lot better temperature resistance. Plus, they are put under a lot of stress for testing purposes to reduce the chances of stretching issues or premature leakage. So, as far as safety is concerned, this is the best choice you can take. They can save you a lot of money due to their long lifespan.

Long story short, these are some of the most common reasons why these roller chains are quite popular these days. Although they can’t be the best option for all types of applications, they can work well in many environments. Therefore, if you want to opt for them, we suggest that you give them a go. You won’t regret your choice.

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