The global workplace has made communicators of us all. Irrespective of field, job level, experience, or knowing everything there is to know about getting your job done, having only specialized knowledge will not take you very far in the long run – you need to be a competent professional communicator too. While corporate communication consists of verbal, listening, and written skills, the latter tops the list as rudimentary for most jobs.
Good grammar and writing skills are more than just an asset; in fact, good business writing can be a predictor of professional success. If you’re new to the business world (perhaps wondering if it’s time to ditch shorthand for the office) or if you are already a professional interested in improving your writing skills, read on to explore why good writing promotes success, plus a few extra business writing tips.
Emails, reports, letters, presentation slides, tweets – the list of written business communication is certainly a long one. Whether you’re communicating internally to colleagues or executives, or externally to customers receiving your company’s newsletter, the way you write can either help or hinder your career development.
1) Good Writers Appear Smarter
Even if your job is not in the Communications department, how you come across is extremely important. People with strong writing skills usually come across as more intelligent, so take the time to proofread your writing. It may sound like a drag, but don’t you sometimes get the feeling that your best proofreading is done after you’ve hit the send button? Instead, take a few minutes to read what you have written before sending it off. Good writing will help you come across more as credible and talented than a colleague whose work is riddled with typos.
2) Good Writers are Credible
Being perceived as credible in the workplace is a goal we should all aspire to. Credible people are dependable, and therefore can be entrusted with more responsibility, and may move up the ranks sooner. That said, people with excellent writing skills are naturally perceived to be more credible. Let’s look at it – how do you perceive the sender of a poorly written email? Best case scenario, he or she is negligent, failing to use a simple spell check or even proofread before sending it. Worst case, he or she comes across as less competent or intellectually challenged. Shorthand, poor grammar, and misspellings are for Facebook timelines, not the office!
3) Good Writers are Persuasive
Persuasion is an art with no scientific formula for success. Even if you’re not out there crafting taglines or calls-to-action for your company, you will at some point need to know how to draft copy that will persuade the recipient to take action. Whether you are writing an appeal to your manager to adopt a new technical tool, or making recommendations to the Accounts team, you should know how to be professionally persuasive for success. Here are a few business writing tips for being persuasive:
Talk in terms of the reader’s interests – use more ‘you’ than ‘I’ or ‘we’.
Convey warmth while relaying how the proposed action will be helpful.
Create a sympathetic bond with your reader.
Tone speaks louder than content so keep it positive.
Show impeccable manners.
4) Good Writers are Courteous
Depending on the culture of your company and its internal communication, shorthand business communication may be increasingly acceptable. If this is taken too far however, text lingo and poor grammar can come across as lazy or just plain rude. One of our top business writing tips is to err on the side of caution with this one and always aim for professional courtesy. A good test is to examine the last few emails in your sent box and ask yourself:
How would you feel if you had received that email?
If this email was viewed in isolation, what would it reveal about its sender?
Quality writing can have a positive impact on your career, so if you’d like to improve your professional writing abilities, it’s definitely worth your time and effort. Depending on the area you would like to focus on, there are plenty of free resources you can find online with business writing tips to help with formatting, etiquette, and more. Finally, if you’d like to have a closer look at your personal tone, clarity, and written logic, it can be worthwhile working one-on-one with a professional writing tutor. All the best to you on your professional journey!
Photo by Ryan Hyde