To What Extent is the Effectiveness of Our Communication Determined By Our Writing Skills?

Whatever your profession, possessing good writing skills is imperative if you want to succeed and progress. Whether we like it or not, the way that we write is used as a tool to assess our intelligence and overall character. A badly written email can encourage the recipient to conclude that we do not represent the candidate they are looking for. Furthermore, bad writing can mean that we do not convey the message that we intend to in our emails.

If we do not put careful thought and consideration into the written communication that we construct (emails, memos, newsletters, etc), we risk the content being misinterpreted, the recipient potentially assuming that we are being rude and we could damage our reputations. That sounds a little extreme, however it is the reality. Humans are judgemental creatures.

People Notice Bad Grammar and Sloppy Mistakes

Picture the scenario: You are working as a successful sales professional. There is absolutely no doubt about the effectiveness of your face-to-face communication and every single person you encounter thinks that you are a charmer. You could sell ice to the Eskimos, you could pretty much sell anything to anyone.

You follow up a meeting with a potential client by sending through an email confirming what was discussed and your suggested course of action. You click the big red button to close the screen, confident that everything went well. It may have, however if you make basic mistakes in your written communication then people certainly will pick up on that and make judgements. Perhaps you used the wrong version of their/there/they’re or your/you’re and the person at the other end is in disbelief that you could make such a basic mistake. If you cannot even double check your emails before sending them, how can they trust you to manage their accounts and recommend products to them?

In some cases, people have come to use a paper writing service to help proofread and edit their content. This can be quite convenient if you are using a lot of standardized texts or canned responses. Nonetheless, keep in mind that customized content tends to get the best results in terms of feedback and customer responses.

Good Writing Triggers a Call-to-Action

Good written communication is clear, concise and to the point. For example, if you work for a corporate organization and the intention of your email is to request a price decrease from your suppliers, or to challenge an increase that they have put forward to you then don’t beat around the bush. When written communication is good, it is clear to the recipient what it is that you are trying to achieve from the onset.

They do not have to breakdown paragraph after paragraph of waffly text trying to decipher what it is that you want. If your recipient finds themselves bored or irritated while trying to communicate, it can have the adverse effect in helping you achieve your targets.

Writing in an Active, Not a Passive Voice Achieves Better Results

There is a significant difference between writing in an active voice and writing in a passive voice. An active voice assumes authority and action, whereas a passive voice does not possess any element of urgency or a requirement to take action at once.

As an example, an email to your coworkers or superiors  written in an active voice may state “I recommend hiring another person to assist with the increased client base we have taken this summer”. Alternatively, an email written in a passive voice that tries to convey the same message may say “We are seeing a lot more work because of this summer’s increased clientele. We should hire someone to help”.

It is not difficult to see a difference between the two sentences – the active voice sounds authoritative and confident, whereas the passive sounds unsure or even timid. In this sense, our writing skills can impact the way in which we are perceived, and the likelihood of others getting on board with our ideas.

People Look For Personality and Tone in Written Communication

Perhaps you have had a really stressful and arduous day at the office filled with back to back meetings, your boss breathing down your neck all day and you have multiple deadlines looming over you like the Grim Reaper. You browse through your emails before heading home and quickly reply to the important ones. If you don’t use some level of empathy when you write – i.e. you don’t read the email from the perspective of the person receiving it, you may encounter problems. If you are too abrupt in your emails, you may come across as pushy or rude.

If you require assistance from someone from another department or they have requested assistance from you and you reply too bluntly, they might become irritated. As a result of having an emotional response to your email, your productivity and the effectiveness of your joint project could be compromised.

Communication That is Too Short Implies Arrogance

It is likely that most of us have experienced a point in our career when we were requested to help an Executive or another senior member of staff out on a project. Sometimes, busy people ping off emails that are short and sweet because they feel so overwhelmed with various other tasks. Emails such as “Please create a budget report for me with all data ASAP” may be common. While more often than not, we try to cut this person some slack, it can seem as though they are just barking orders. Be conscious of this and try to ensure that your email communications do not trigger this feeling in someone else.

Speed Bumps in Your Writing Create Obstacles to Correct Interpretation

We have already mentioned that bad grammar can distract and frustrate recipients of your written communication. It also slows down the person’s experience of reading through what you have written since they have to stop, review the mistake and mentally correct it in their minds. Of equal annoyance are things like complicated jargon that they have to decipher, spelling mistakes and incorrect use of different words.

One or any combination of these factors makes reviewing your emails and memos a lengthier process than it should be. Not only can such speed bumps be somewhat unprofessional, they also turn the reader off from being open about helping you achieve what you are pitching or writing to them about.

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Thomas Martin
Tom is a member of the Editorial Team at StartUp Mindset. He mainly focuses on online businesses and eCommerce startups.

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Tom is a member of the Editorial Team at StartUp Mindset. He mainly focuses on online businesses and eCommerce startups.

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