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Peaking My Interest?

Back from my vacation, I have been wading through email. One email came right after my previous blog entry, Save Important Tasks for Last, and illustrated it perfectly.

The email was from Tom, who was following up with dozens of contacts he had met at the ASTD Expo in San Diego. Tom’s message included this sentence:

“Please give me a call and let me know which products and services peaked your interest.”

Peaked my interest? No, Tom meant to use pique–not peak. Here are definitions and examples:

Pique = provoke, arouse, as in “His comment piqued my curiosity.”

Peak = achieve a maximum level, as in “Sales of outdoor gear peaked in June.”

Peek = to glance quickly or furtively, as in “I peeked in the conference room, but I didn’t see him.”

I wrote to Tom, explaining the piqued error, in case he planned to send the same message to others. He cheerfully responded:

“I am glad I sent my first follow-up to the most appropriate company!”

I was relieved that Tom appreciated my explanation rather than being piqued by it. That’s another use of piqued:

Pique = to cause to feel resentment, as in “Because she had worked so hard for so long, his sudden, easy success piqued her.”

Feeling peaked after a long weekend of partying? That’s a different peaked!

Peak = to become or appear sickly, as in “I am feeling peaked after getting caught in that downpour.”


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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

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