How can writing with Emotional Intelligence (EI) enrich your life? Some answers in this month’s issue of TYSN

February 2024 Vol 6 Issue 2






Tell Your Story Newsletter (TYSN):

Specializing in Linguistic and Entrepreneurial Storytelling

Let me teach you to tell your story!



Welcome Mid-February, 2024!

Happy Mid-February, good readers! Chinese (Lunar) New Year (February 10th)  and Valentine’s Day (February 14th) have just passed (for many, with joy), as I revise this issue of “Tell Your Story Newsletter.”

Canadians who have lived all our lives according to the Gregorian calendar sometimes forget (as Google reminds us) that there are about 40 calendars at use in the world today. Of these, ours (the Gregorian) and six others are most commonly used– Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, Chinese, Julian and Persian.

Out of that collection, I am blessed to have family, friends and colleagues in Canada or overseas who follow the Jewish, Chinese and Persian calendars: The others, I will work on! But last Saturday’s Chinese New Year was celebrated globally by more than 1.5 Billion people, of whom about 1.7 Million live in Canada (Statistics Canada, 2021). A few of them are, to my excitement, studying English with me.

As a second generation, part-Chinese/part-English Canadian, at Lunar New Year I observe the holiday by taking the time to reconnect with my Chinese cousins, who don’t mind updating me (in English) on their lives and celebrations. (Learning Mandarin is a late life goal for me.)

I was pleased to learn last weekend that they are all well, and had prepared dumplings and other Chinese delicacies to enjoy. Those who are retired said ruefully that they’d like to study English (ESL) with me, as newcomers do, because their living in a mostly Chinese-speaking diaspora in BC is causing them to “lose their English.”

And in recent years, one language that is increasingly connecting us all (despite linguistic differences) is, of course, Artificial Intelligence (AI)–now very much here to stay.

AI, as most copywriters know, offers us unparalleled access to human and machine learning, including the many responsibilities and ethical concerns inherent in that.

In this context of global AI (this “brave new world”), in “Article One,” I share insights of Anglo-Canadian copywriter, Nick Usborne, on our unwavering need for emotional intelligence (EI or EQ). Usborne’s insights may not be entirely new, but are worth weighing in our minds, as he directs us toward innovation and depth.

In “Storytellers’ Corner,” I share some tips on how to make writing (of any kind) more fun, from Vancouver writer and publication coach, Daphne Gray-Grant.

In “Shop News,” I share thanks and acknowledge those many folk in my entrepreneurial and community circle who provide as much support and affirmation as they may seek (and usually more).

And given that the darkest months of the Gregorian calendar are now nearly over, I commend you, good readers, for weathering this eccentric winter in SK–with its late start; extreme dryness; isolated days of intensive cold, followed by unseasonable warmth; freezing rain, etc.

Valentine’s Day and the Lunar New Year remind us that (we hope) we’re nearing the end of another winter on the Prairies. And in today’s glorious, Saskatchewan sunshine, that gives us even more reason to celebrate!


Elizabeth Shih


Storytelling Communications



ARTICLE 1: How can writing with EI enrich your life (with Nick Usborne)


How to make writing more fun (with Daphne Gray-Grant)




Article One: How writing with EI enriches your life (with Nick Usborne)

It’s certainly true that I now spend most of my working hours, each week, teaching English to newcomer entrepreneurs and economic immigrants. I love the work; teaching ESL has become a very satisfying arm of my services as a communications specialist.

But as part of my journey as a teacher and communicator, I continue to write and recently have been studying Anglo-Canadian, Montreal-based copywriter Nick Usborne’s course on applications of AI to the field of copywriting.

Usborne calls the course “Future-Proof Copywriting,” and it explores Artificial Intelligence, Emotional Intelligence and how to combine the two. I’ll share more of my learnings in upcoming issues.

But I was intrigued that as hard-hitting and experienced a B2B copywriter as Usborne is, he continues to argue that Emotional Intelligence can “enrich your life,” when we make room for it, in our applications of AI.

Although I’ll address applications of AI further in future months, this month I want simply to recall Usborne’s insight that there are essentially three ways that EI can make your copywriting persuasive, and even “enrich your life”:

(1)  He says that copywriters find self-empowerment through emotional connection. So if you take the trouble to get to know your audience and understand their feelings (needs, wants, “pain points”), you’ll be able to feel genuine empathy for your readers.

When you feel that empathy, you’re not just a writer communicating with an audience, but a genuine human being who is “reaching out and connecting with other real people.”

This is not as “touchy-feely” as some might think. First, Usborne says, when writers reach out to their readers, readers sense that their feelings are perceived and validated. Readers feel noticed and that shared emotional connection powerfully motivates them to buy from you.

Secondly, by connecting emotionally with your target audience, you as a writer will feel empowered and in a position to genuinely help your readers. You can take value (and feel good) in knowing that your work matters to others. You are not merely facilitating a grim economic exchange, as in Dicken’s England of the 1840s and 50s).

(2) Emotional Intelligence or awareness allows you as a writer to find creative fulfillment. I think of some 13 years I’ve spent, crafting blog postings and newsletter articles, especially on concepts of entrepreneurial wellness. AI now outpaces us in this niche, but without EI, copywriters would not know how to assess and refine AI-derived content.

Writing that involves emotion refuses to be contained by a formula or template. The latter are not creative, Usborne argues, but are “the writing equivalent of painting by numbers.”

When you simply follow a template, you won’t feel emotionally engaged because you’re not creating anything new (or, at least, you must strive to reflect an iota of new thinking or possibility).

But when you break a standard mold or template by tapping into the power of EI, Usborne says, you’ll find that you “can create a narrative that truly speaks to [your prospects]: Maybe I’ll share a story, or lead with a metaphor. . . . I’ll be creating something new, a new way to engage with my audience more deeply.”

That deeper act of creating is fulfilling, Usborne says. It’s like colouring with crayons, after seeing many pages of only black and white. “Writing with a high level of emotional intelligence is much more rewarding than following rules or templates,” he writes.

(3) Because copywriters since David Ogilvy’s pioneering days have sometimes failed to connect emotionally and creatively with their readers and work, we can often feel “discouraged” about our work, that we are only (Dickensian) hacks, striving, Usborne says, to “sell stuff with words.”

He recalls sharing that discouragement when chatting with a former client over a beer, many years ago. Usborne’s copy had resulted in the hiring of two new staff, had a huge jump in sales and much enriched company insight—such had been the difference his writing made. But he was the last to know it, in part since his emotions were not engaged in the work (and also that his clients hadn’t thanked him enough).

But when you tap into EI, as Usborne advocates, you’ll find a “deeper level of purpose.”

The first step to develop EI is to think more about the people who will read your copy. How can you engage with clients/readers at a more meaningful level?

Then, when you apply your EI to your copywriting mix, you’ll harness AI’s ChatGPT, GPT-4 and/or Google Bard. Using EI will feed those “large language models” (LLMs) effective prompts, and elicit potentially great responses, at a speed that outpaces what we could do, alone.

Usborne has elsewhere suggested that your own EI will make you more attuned to revising, fact-checking (e.g. and improving upon the provisional draft that AI produces. You’ll seek out ways to weave emotionally rich content into the copy that engages with your reader better than AI can currently do, alone.

You’ll cut out the “hallucinations” that AI sometimes makes, where a large language model (LLM) perceives patterns of objects that do not exist or cannot be perceived by human observers, resulting in nonsense or mistakes.

So, combining EI with AI is hugely important to the field, and wisely foundational to Usborne’s course, Future-Proof Copywriting. He says that “empathy isn’t easy but it’s probably the best thing you can contribute to any kind of relationship.”

Very important, further, is the truth that the more academic or business psychology you read (e.g.s. Adam Grant, Seth Godin, Brene Brown and Simon Sinek) to prompt AI, the deeper you will leverage it  to go, far beyond basic empathy:  For instance, consider the subtler research and writing of “self-compassion” (by Kristin Neff) and of  “empathic attunement” (by Clayton Rowe and David MacIsaac).

Combining EI and AI will render your writing more persuasive and powerful to your readers than ever before.

That fulfills Usborne’s prediction that EI won’t only improve copywriters’ morale and better sell our products or services, but will also greatly improve on (even “enlighten”) our clients’ lives.

And for that, they’ll keep returning to us, freeing informed copywriters from fears of our vocational demise.

And how it’s your turn. Do you agree with Nick Usborne that writing with EI can enrich readers’ and copywriters’ lives?

Please write in; I’d be delighted to hear from you.



How to make writing more FUN (with Daphne Grant). . .   

Whatever kind of writing you may be doing (or perhaps  wanting to produce by adapting AI), Vancouver-based publication coach Daphne Gray-Grant says that we all need to make writing “more fun” in our lives. That can happen when we make it less challenging, frustrating and even boring, than it may currently be! She shared these seven tips:

(1) Sketch out your ideas on a “mindmap,” so you don’t feel the overwhelm of a blank page! Think of your mindmap as a slate for brainstorming your ideas, that you can establish in point-form, illustrate and even physically connect, before you start to write! (It would be wise to start here, as a way to formulate prompts you might then feed to AI.)

(2) Don’t write for too long, each day. Gray-Grant suggests starting with 10 or 15 mins, unless you have a very short due date coming. (And try to avoid procrastination that can lead to that dilemma).

(3)Write, revise and edit with some music in the background—but not music with lyrics. She suggests “Coffitivity,” which has a free app that provides the white noise of a morning murmur, lunchtime lounge, or university undertones. Some writers similarly use “sound boxes” which often feature calming tones like rain on a tin roof, waves breaking on the shore, etc. When no lyrics are involved, writers often find having simple background noise can help the creative process.

(4)   Write in different places, especially if you have a room with high ceilings, which makes it easier to be creative.

(5)   Think while you walk, and dictate into your smartphone. Gray-Grant says that your voice will keep up with your brain more than your fingers can (by typing).

(6)   Reward yourself, when you’ve done some significant writing. Try to avoid eating/food rewards, but you might enjoy a specialty tea or coffee; a new magazine; permission to read for 45 mins a new book you’re interested in; a telephone call with a good friend; a bath or a long shower; a walk in the park or nature; window shopping someplace you like; listening to some favourite music; watching a show on Netflix or BritBox; listening to a favourite podcast, and so on.

Variety can stimulate creativity.

(7)   Don’t get obsessed with needing to be original, which is harder to achieve than many realize (and an issue intensified by AI!). Gray-Grant cites Salvador Dali, saying, “Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.”

I would add–don’t be afraid to tap into AI, but also be sure to review, revise and correct what it gives you.

It’s not foolish, ignorant or dilettantish to want to make writing fun. If you enjoy the process enough, Gray-Grant concludes, “you’ll do it more often and you’ll get much better at it.”

Now, who would argue with that?



Thanks and kudos this month to the staff at Luther Heights Intermediate Care Home, who take care of my elderly mother and many others, too, with empathy and kindness. It is a blessing to be able to trust those who are professional caregivers to support our dear family members in their late-life journeys.

Do you know anyone (or a relative of a friend or contact) who is facing a lengthy (or permanent) hospital or care home stay? Would you please consider making some time this late winter to visit them, even if only for 20 or 30 minutes?

I have witnessed, firsthand, how such folk benefit from a visit and gentle conversation. Each of us can bring comfort and joy (and sometimes, just a healthy distraction) to those who may feel they have lost their homes or loved ones.

Thank you for remembering these beautiful souls in our community!


My spirits as a teacher and writer are regularly buoyed (in these globally troubled times) by many local friends.

This month, I particularly want to thank Laura Van Loon (St. Andrew’s Parish Nurse); Monica Kreuger (Chief  Visionary Officer, Praxis School of Entrepreneurship and mentor extraordinaire through the Raj Manek Mentorship Program);  Lesley-Anne McLeod (Regency novelist and social historian, at; Steve Cavan (Classicist, Philosopher and ESL teacher); William Wang (Director of China Offices, Government of Alberta); Deanna Litz, (entrepreneurial facilitator and brilliant coach, Powerful Nature Coaching & Consulting Inc.); Rev. Roberto DeSandoli (Minister of Word and Sacrament, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church); Julie Barnes (professional writer and music agent); Ashleigh Mattern (writer, storyteller and marketer); Erin Watson (librarian, College of Medicine, U of S);  Dani Van Driel (former Director, Action Battery, now transitional developer for its emergence as a larger, nation-wide company); Martha Fergusson (amazing director of Christian Education, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church); Angela Jamieson (a friend from high school days who now leads “Angela Jamieson Transformational Life Consulting”) and Kanchan Manek, the tireless Director of the Raj Manek Mentorship Program.

And I look forward soon to visiting the brilliant and always lovely entrepreneur, principled community leader, insightful board director and property developer, Silvia Martini.

From our network of women entrepreneurs last Christmas, Silvia and I chose to share an in-person visit, which I anticipate with delight.


When waters get choppy around issues like the  state of publicly funded health and senior care in the province (and country); and around concerns like the ethical use of social media and AI, the above friends, as well as amazing community leaders and colleagues like Sara Wheelwright and Katrina German, testify to their  values by their testimonies and conversation–whether spoken or written.


Thanks to friends and colleagues at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church for bearing witness to our province’s inadequate LTC system for seniors (and beyond).

As new community members find their parents and grandparents aging without adequate health care and subsidized housing, St. Andrew’s members can listen, share experience, advocacy and compassion.

Particular thanks go to Rev. Roberto and Heather De Sandoli, Patti Polowick, Alan Ireland, Martha and Dean Fergusson and Heather Kolojay.


Finally, I’m delighted to partly write, fully revise and edit a collaborative article on the topic of “writerly resources” for the summer 2024 issue of “The Freelancer,” a quarterly ezine of the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild (SWG).

Many thanks to collaborators (winking co-conspirators!) Ashleigh Mattern, Julie Barnes, Adele Paul and Ashlyn George, for sharing their contributions with me.

The article currently under development is one of a series, called “Ask a Writers’ Group,” that I’ve shared with these gifted and hardworking women.

We collectively share 50+ years of experience as creative and business writers in Saskatoon.


Merci beaucoup, mes amies!

There are always more businesses to promote and people to thank. But for now, this is a wrap on mid-February! 



Between 2011 and December 2018, Elizabeth Shih Communications chronicled the stories of B2B marketing and communications on the Prairies and across the country.

Effective January 1, 2019, I rebranded as “Storytelling Communications.” I  now help newcomers to Canada land better jobs or secure better contracts by improving their English skills; I help SMEs close more sales by communicating more effectively; and I write the legacy stories of major

Interested in learning more? Please contact me through my CASL-compliant website (

After I receive your message, I’ll be pleased to discuss projects with you!

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