Generous Writing

With the world of text messaging, email and internet everything, there is still a high quantity of communication systems that use text.  They are doing it in a more segmented, small content system however. The good thing is that there is lots of medium to write in and many opportunities in our lives and jobs to use writing to communicate.  And better than that, there are people who are willing and wanting to read what you have to communicate.  There are many places where writing can be used and generally in business, there is room for more writing.  Whether its for status updates, issue reports, instructions, directions, requests or simply email messages there is value in being generous with your writing.

I don’t mean to be generous by writing longer messages or more wordy content, instead be generous with what you write about and how often you write.  Writing a follow up message or thank you note even after a discussion can be a huge plus with your communication as it reinforces what you had to say and puts a reminder out to your audience which helps to clarify your message and the repetition helps it be remembered.

Style

Develop and watch for your own style in your writing.  Consistency with how you write and your approach to putting your ideas to text can lead not only to having a style of your own in your writing, but it also builds on your personality and reputation if you are consistent in how you write.  This is especially true in business as written messages and instructions can be a critical part of your perceived personality so don’t take your writing style for granted.  Be careful of your tone, clarity and any emotional content you include.

Put some style into your formatting and use white space, lists, and headings to organize your content and keep the attention of your readers.  Pictures can definitely help with this as well but are not always necessary.  A few others specifics of style which can improve your communication are to avoid slang, jargon, abbreviations, and symbols.  These all help keep clarity.  Spend some time to refine your style and be careful to keep it consistent as it will have impact with how well you can communicate your written text.

Outline and Plan Your Writing

Its never a bad idea to plan your writing, whether its an email message or a long instruction manual, you should always outline what you want to write and plan it out before beginning to write your content.  For example, I always put down my headings for an article before starting to write the paragraph content to ensure I cover the topics I want to and that I can fit things into some structure that is prepared before I begin to write.  Putting just a couple of minutes in up front will help you focus your writing on what you intend to cover and will help to keep off topic components out of your writing.

Careful of Negative Emotions

Emotional text is very difficult to clearly write and so main recommendation when it comes to writing anything that has some emotional attachment to it, is DON’T!  Just don’t write it.  Unless you are a very careful and practiced author, most people cause far more problems in their writing than they solve when they include any emotional content.  This includes writing about how someone made you feel, your feelings (not just opinions) on a subject or feedback to someone about how something made you feel.  If you find yourself writing under any kind of strong emotional state (especially negative emotions like fear or anger or jealousy), do yourself a favor and just stop writing.  You are better off communicating by phone or in person for these subjects and best left not recorded in text.

Now, emotions can play an important role in getting your message across if used to deliver a passionate heartfelt text.  This is where emotions in text can be useful, just keep in mind they are hard to express.  Think of how a novel author can write for several paragraphs to describe the feelings and thoughts of a character in a story.  It can take the same level of detail and attention to express your own emotions accurately with no room for interpretation so make sure you include enough detail to minimize any room for question.

Proofing

While some will argue that its a waste of time to spent much time proofing work for minor errors, there is much more to proofing your written work than just the obvious problems that can be overlooked.  Other reasons are more important and the most would be to ensure that what you’ve written makes sense and is worded in a way that delivers the intended message.  Eliminating simple spelling and grammatical errors is also important as any mistakes will slow down and distract your reader from what you are wanted to communicate.

Take care and time to ensure what you’ve written is said well and change any content that is not clear when you proof the work.  Good writing should never need to be reread to be understood and it should make your point without complex and difficult language.  Take the time to make it concise and to the point while proofing, looking to eliminate unnecessary wording and sentences.

I hope these tips will help you to have more impact with your writing and to be a better communicator.  If you missed any of my previous articles in this better communication series, you can check them all out below.  I’d love to hear any comments about this article or others in this series.

Better Communication: Using Questions Regularly

Better Communication: Listening for Improvement

Better Communication: Control Your Speaking



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