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Unit 5
The Power of Words

In-Class Reading
The Power of a Note

1 On my first job as sports editor for the Montpelier (Ohio) Leader Enterprise, I didn't get a lot of fan mail, so I was intrigued by a letter that was dropped on my desk one morning.
2 When I opened it, I read: "A nice piece of writing on the Tigers. Keep up the good work." It was signed by Don Wolfe, the sports editor. Because I was a teenager (being paid the grand total of 15 cents a column inch), his words couldn't have been more inspiring. I kept the letter in my desk drawer until it got rag-eared. Whenever I doubted I had the right stuff to be a writer, I would reread Don's note and feel confident again.
3 Later, when I got to know him, I learned that Don made a habit of writing a quick, encouraging word to people in all walks of life. "When I make others feel good about themselves," he told me, "I feel good too."
4 Not surprisingly, he had a body of friends as big as nearby Lake Erie. When he died last year at 75, the paper was flooded with calls and letters from people who had been recipients of his spirit-lifting words.
5 Over the years, I've tried to copy the example of Don and other friends who care enough to write uplifting comments, because I think they are on to something important. In a world too often cold and unresponsive, such notes bring warmth and reassurance. We all need a boost from time to time, and a few lines of praise have been known to turn around a day, even a life.
6 Why, then, are there so few upbeat note writers? My guess is that many who shy away from the practice are too self-conscious. They're afraid they'll be misunderstood, sound sentimental or insincere. Also, writing takes time; it's far easier to pick up the phone.
7 The drawback with phone calls, of course, is that they don't last. A note attaches more importance to our well-wishing. It is a matter of record, and our words can be read more than once, savored and treasured.
8 Even though note writing may take longer, some pretty busy people do it, including George Bush. Some say he owes much of his success in politics to his ever-ready pen. How? Throughout his career he has followed up virtually every contact with a cordial response-a compliment, a line of praise or a nod of thanks. His notes go not only to friends and associates, but to casual acquaintances and total strangers-like the surprised person who got a warm pat on the back for lending Bush an umbrella.
9 Even top corporate managers, who have mostly affected styles of leadership that can be characterized only as tough, cold and aloof, have begun to learn the lesson, and earn the benefits, of writing notes that lift people up. Former Ford chairman Donald Peterson, who is largely credited for turning the company round in the 1980s, made it a practice to write positive messages to associates every day. "I'd just scribble them on a memo pad or the corner of a letter and pass them along," he says. "The most important ten minutes of your day are those you spend doing something to boost the people who work for you."
10 "Too often," he observed, "people we genuinely like have no idea how we feel about them. Too often we think, I haven't said anything critical; why do I have to say something positive? We forget that human beings need positive reinforcement-in fact, we thrive on it!"
11 What does it take to write letters that lift spirits and warm hearts? Only a willingness to express our appreciation. The most successful practitioners include what I call the four "S's" of note writing.
12 1) They are sincere. No one wants false praise.
13 2) They are usually short. If you can't say what you want to say in three sentences, you're probably straining.
14 3) They are specific. Complimenting a business colleague by telling him "good speech" is too vague; "great story about Warren Buffet's investment strategy" is precise.
15 4) They are spontaneous. This gives them the freshness and enthusiasm that will linger in the reader's mind long afterward.
16 It's difficult to be spontaneous when you have to hunt for letter-writing materials, so I keep paper, envelopes and stamps close at hand, even when I travel. Fancy stationery isn't necessary; it's the thought that counts.
17 So, who around you deserves a note of thanks or approval? A neighbor, your librarian, a relative, your mayor, your mate, a teacher, your doctor? You don't need to be poetic. If you need a reason, look for a milestone, the anniversary of a special event you shared, or a birthday or holiday. For the last 25 years, for example, I've prepared an annual Christmas letter for long-distance friends, and I often add a handwritten word of thanks or congratulations. Acknowledging some success or good fortune that has happened during the year seems particularly appropriate considering the spirit of the Christmas season.
18 Be generous with your praise. Superlatives like "greatest," "smartest," "prettiest" make us all feel good. Even if your praise is a little ahead of reality, remember that expectations are often the parents of dreams fulfilled.
19 Today I got a warm, complimentary letter from my old boss and mentor, Norman Vincent Peale. His little note to me was full of uplifting phrases, and it sent me to my typewriter to compose a few overdue letters of my own. I don't know if they will make anybody else's day, but they made mine. As my friend Don Wolfe said, making others feel good about themselves makes me feel good too. (978 words)
Time taken: _____ minutes

Proper Names

Don Wolfe

Donald Peterson


George Bush

Lake Erie

Leader Enterprise


Norman Vincent Peale



Warren Buffet

New Words

n. someone you know, but who is not a close friend (关系不密切的)熟人
e.g. I met an acquaintance of yours at the train station.

adj. not sincere or natural 做作的,不自然的
e.g. I did not like his affected speech.

adj. cool and remote in character 冷淡的,超然离群的
e.g. Her aloof manner made her unpopular with her coworkers.

n. the date of an important past event that is celebrated or remembered every year 周年纪念(日)
e.g. My parents were in Europe on their fiftieth wedding anniversary.

n. something that helps someone be more successful and confident, or that helps something increase or improve 鼓励,激励,提高
e.g. Last night's victory was a tremendous boost to the team.
v. make someone feel more confident and less worried 鼓励,使增强信心
e.g. He regularly phones to boost her morale (土气).

v. (also -ise)
1) be characteristic of 以……为特征
e.g. An interest in people's deepest feelings characterizes all her writings.
2) (formal) describe someone or something as ... 描述……的特征,描绘
e.g. I ) Both companies have characterized the relationship as friendly.
II) In her essay, she characterizes the whole era as a period of radical change.

1) part of a newspaper regularly dealing with a particular subject or written by the same journalist (报纸的)专栏
e.g. Bill used to write a column for the Bristol Evening News.
2) a tall, solid, upright stone post used to support a building or as a decoration 柱,圆柱
e.g. The old post office building had several marble columns in front.
3) a large number of rows of people, vehicles, etc., following one behind the other 一队/列(人、车等),纵行
e.g. Behind the brass band (铜管乐队) came a column of workers.

complimentary *
adj. expressing admiration, praise, etc. 赞美的,赞赏的
e.g. My boss was very complimentary about my work.

adj. (formal) sincere and friendly 诚挚的,友好的
e.g. He said the two countries had close and cordial relations.

n. disadvantage 不利条件,缺点,弊端
e.g. Dealing with traffic is a drawback to living in the city.

1) a company or business 企业,公司
e.g. This company is one of the largest enterprises of its kind.
2) apian, course of action, etc. 事业,计划,行动
e.g. The committee hopes to complete the enterprise by January.

1) great eagerness to be involved in a particular activity 热情,激情;巨大兴趣
e.g. Jane's enthusiasm for gardening is evident by all of these beautiful flowers.
2) an activity or subject that someone is very interested in 热衷的事物
e.g. Among his many enthusiasms is a great fondness for Eastern music.

n. newness, activeness 新意;勃勃生机
e.g. I like the freshness of his approach to the problem.

handwritten *
adj. written by hand rather than being typed or printed 手写的
e.g. A handwritten note seems more personal than a typed one.

insincere *
adj. pretending to be pleased, sympathetic, etc., especially by saying nice things, but not really meaning what you say 不真诚的
e.g. Bob's insincere comment insulted me.

v. interest someone, make someone curious 激起……的好奇心(或兴趣),迷住
e.g. John's mysterious past intrigued Mary.

in vestment
1 ) putting money or other resources into a project in hopes of profit or success 投资
e.g. He said the government must introduce tax incentives (刺激)to encourage investment.
2) a sum of money that is invested 投资额
e.g. You must pay taxes on the interest from investments.

n. a person who directs or controls a team, organization, country, etc. 领导者,指挥者
e.g. He s been always a follower rather than a leader.

adj. travelling or operating between long distances 长距离的
e.g. Ted and Maggy's long-distance relationship lasted only a year.

n. a friend, companion, or fellow-worker 朋友,伙伴,同事
e.g. I'm off for a drink with my mates.

n. the head of the council of a city or town 市长
e.g. The city council voted against the mayor's proposed budget.

n. a short official note to another person in the same company or organization 备忘录
e.g. I did not read the memo on time and missed the meeting.

n. an experienced person who advises and helps a less experienced person 指导者,良师益友
e.g. My college English teacher became my mentor.

n. a stone put at the side of a road showing distances in miles, or an accomplishment along the way to a greater success 里程牌,重大事件
e.g. The invention of printing was a milestone in human progress.

adj. not completed or paid by the due date or expected time 延误的;到期(未付)的
e.g. Reform in all these areas is long overdue.

1) several sheets of paper fastened together, used for writing, drawing, etc. 便笺本,拍纸簿
e.g. The investigator wrote some information on her note pad.
2) a piece of soft thick cloth or rubber which is used to protect a part of the body, give shape to something or clean something 垫,衬垫
e.g. Football players often wear shin (胫) pads to protect their legs.

poetic *
adj. of, relating to, or characteristic of poets or poetry 富有诗意的,有诗人气质的,善于抒情的
e.g. The story is written in richly poetic language.

n. a person actively engaged in an art, discipline, or profession 开业者,从事者,实践者
e.g. My brother is a medical practitioner.

adj. exact 精确的,准确的
e.g. I ) This ruler is precise to within a millimeter.
II) He doesn't talk too much, and what he has to say is precise and to the point.

rag-eared *
adj. worn-out, dog-eared (书页)折角的,(书等)翻旧了的,破旧的
e.g. He carried a rag-eared copy of a poem in his billfold.

n. someone who receives something 接受者,接收者
e.g. John is the grateful recipient of a heart that was transplanted into his body.

v. enjoy the taste or flavor of 品味,体验
e.g. Now that the exams are over, we can savor our freedom.

adj. having tender feelings or emotions, often sad ones 多情的,多愁善感的
e.g. Everyone at the reunion had sentimental memories of high school.

adj. not pretended, genuine, saying things that one really means 诚挚的,真诚的,诚恳的
e.g. Mr and Mrs Smith sent their sincere regrets that they were unable to attend the meeting.

adj. happening naturally without outside influence or force 自发的,自然的
e.g. There was spontaneous applause at the end of Mary's speech.

n. writing materials (e.g. paper, envelopes, etc.) 文具;(配套的)信笺信封
e.g. The company has its name and address printed on its stationery.

n. an adjective or adverb expressing the highest or a very high degree 形容词(或副词的)最高级
e.g. The word "softest ' is the superlative form of the word "soft".

v. (throve, thrived or thriven, thrived) grow or develop well and vigorously, prosper 兴旺,繁荣,茁壮成长
e.g. I) My children thrived on my good cooking.
II) Creative people are usually very determined and thrive on overcoming obstacles.

adj. optimistic, cheerful 乐观的,快乐的
e.g. John is really an upbeat story teller.

adv. almost 几乎
e.g. Many species of wild animals have virtually disappeared from the surface of the earth.

n. a state of being eagerly ready to do something愿意,乐意
e.g. Mary's willingness to help others is one of her best qualities.

Phrases and Expressions

a pat on the back
(informal) praise for something that you have done well 表扬,鼓励
e.g. Alex deserves a pat on the back for all his hard work.

attach importance to
believe that something is important 认为……重要
e.g. People attach too much importance to economic forecasts.

be on to something
(informal) realize the significance, have an idea or information that leads to something important 认识到重要意义,会产生重要结果
e.g. When did you realize that you are on to something big?

follow up
take further action after ... (by means of something else) 在……之后再采取进一步行动
e.g. I ) I followed up my letter with a visit.
II) He didn't rest on his achievements; he followed up his success.

lift up
stimulate, inspire 鼓舞,激励
e.g. She really lifted up our spirits with those moving words.

make a habit of
form, develop the habit of ... 形成/养成……习惯
e.g. You can phone me at work as long as you don't make a habit of it.

make somebody's day
make somebody feel happy 使某人的日子过得快活
e.g. Hearing her voice on the phone made my day.

pass along
hand on 传递,转交
e.g. Please pass the picture along to the student.

shy away from
avoid doing something because one is afraid or not confident enough (由于害怕、心里不踏实或缺乏信心等)躲开,回避做……
e.g. I ) We frequently shy away from making decisions.
II) I've always shied away from close friendships.

turn ... (a)round
improve after failure, change for the better 使……向好的方向发展
e.g. Within three years she completely turned the company around.

walk of life
type of work, trade, profession, or social position 行业,职业,社会阶层
e.g. Paul has to work with people of all ages in all walks of life.
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