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ON THE MOVE CUNEYT FEIZOULOF JOINS SEH AS CHIEF STRATEGY AND MARKETING OFFICER Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. announced Cuneyt Feizoulof, PE, BCEE, LEED-AP has joined its leadership team as chief strategy and marketing officer. He will further the growth and expansion in current and new geographical regions and markets for the Saint Paul- based engineering, architecture, and planning company.

Since 2015, Feizoulof has been successfully delivering solutions for clients, providing career opportunities for staff and leading organic and acquisitive growth initiatives. “Cuneyt brings a powerful combination of leadership in strategic growth and large-scale engineering successes,” said David Ott, CEO and president of the 92-year-old employee- owned company. “These are exciting times as opportunities arise day by day. Cuneyt

will position SEH for growth, with a focus on sustainability and infrastructure renewal.” Feizoulof has a master’s degree in environmental engineering and bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering and chemistry from the University of Illinois. SEH is a multidisciplined professional services firm made up of 800 engineers, architects, planners and scientists.


expertise. After all, they are the experts when it comes to doing the work. You are the expert at getting the work. So, where can we start? How can we add value to our firms with stronger language? First, identify where you are using weak language, being overly polite, or apologizing unnecessarily. Is it during meetings? Emails? Over the phone? When deadlines are approaching? When deadlines are missed? Then, begin replacing the weak language. ❚ ❚ Instead of, “I’m sorry, but,” try, “I disagree. Consider...” ❚ ❚ Instead of, “I was thinking maybe,” go with, “I recommend…” ❚ ❚ Instead of, “I thought we might try,” use, “My experience suggests...” ❚ ❚ Instead of, “I’m no expert, but,” try, “I am confident that...” ❚ ❚ Instead of, “I’m just checking in,” say, “I’m following up on the status of...” ❚ ❚ Instead of, “No worries,” implement, “You’re welcome.” ❚ ❚ Instead of, “I apologize for the delay,” go with, “Thank you for your patience.” Other examples of assertive language include: ❚ ❚ “Who will be responsible for this action item?” ❚ ❚ “Can you take point on this and update me tomorrow?” ❚ ❚ “To meet the requirements of the schedule, I’ll need this item by…” ❚ ❚ “At this point you’ve missed the agreed upon deadline. When is the earliest you can have this item to me?” ❚ ❚ “I believe this is the best approach.” ❚ ❚ “Any content or revisions that come in after pens-down are not guaranteed to make it in the final document.” Language is important and words matter. Many professionals assume that not being passive entails being aggressive, but in fact, assertive language is about being clear, direct, and respectful. How you communicate impacts working relationships and company culture. MERCEDEZ THOMPSON, CP APMP, SHIPLEY BDC is a proposal manager at Michael Baker International. She has more than nine years of experience in writing and marketing for diverse industries including AEC, education, and law. Additionally, she taught English courses at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and University of Nevada, Reno. Contact her at 440.328.6471 or mercedez.thompson@, or subscribe to her blog at

proposal. Oftentimes, these roles are not clearly defined, and proposal development becomes a dance between colleagues trying not to step on each other’s toes. Not to mention, the prioritization of live projects and billable work can relegate proposals to the end of the to-do list, something you get to when you can get to it. Sure enough, a follow-up email went out that afternoon. The missing narratives were listed in the revised action- item list but without a new deadline. In a separate email, the marketer wrote to the responsible author: “Sorry, just reaching out to check on these narratives again. When did you say you could have them to me?” This example is not exceptional. In fact, it is representative of a trend. “Language is important and words matter. Many professionals assume that not being passive entails being aggressive, but in fact, assertive language is about being clear, direct, and respectful.” All too often, we apologize for doing our job. We are overly polite. We dance around deadlines because we want to be easy to work with. We hesitate to offer our expertise, and when we do, we are quick to let others, who know less about marketing, steamroll our counsel. We refrain from accountability. We justify our recommendations with babbling explanations and then add on a feeble question like “Don’t you think?” or “You see what I’m saying?” Our favorite words seem to be “just,” “feel,” “sort of,” and “might.” What’s the result of this weak language? Is it that big of a deal? Yes. Weak language dilutes our message. It makes others doubt our credibility. It gives the impression that we are indecisive or unqualified. Conversely, assertive language affords marketing professionals respect from their colleagues. It can foster attentiveness, boost credibility, and increase authority. It can help to differentiate roles and increase efficiency. Most importantly, assertive language can be used respectfully in a way that affirms your and your colleagues’ areas of

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