5 Effective Tips to Improve Your Written Communication
Do you read some messages from your colleagues that rub you the wrong way? The messages may not be insulting, but the tone is just off. You feel offended, and it reflects in how you relate to them. They probably meant no harm but used the wrong choice of words.
Written communication can go south in many ways. You have to be deliberate in improving how you communicate in writing, so your intentions aren’t misunderstood.
What Is Written Communication?
Written communication is the process of sending text-based messages and instructions through letters, reports, manuals, etc.
Used to pass information across in the workplace, written communication often takes a formal approach. It’s contained in official documents that serve as evidence and point of reference.
New developments are communicated to the team in writing. When team members exhibit unruly behavior, they are issued a query through written communication and respond in the same manner.
Unlike verbal communication that can be forgotten if not recorded, written communication lasts for long, especially if it isn’t tampered with.
The Challenges of Written Communication
As with other forms of communication, the goal of written communication is defeated if the recipients don’t understand the content of the message.
Written communication has several hitches that could alter the meaning of the message or the intention of the sender. Let’s take a look at some of them.
1. A Lack of Clarity
Communication loses its essence when it’s complex. The choice of words used by the sender in written communication can leave the receiver confused. And since the sender isn’t available to clarify things, the confusion lingers.
If employees feel compelled to take action upon receiving complex written messages, they may end up making mistakes due to a lack of understanding of the messages.
Mistakes made at work as a result of clarity issues are a setback for the organization as time and resources are wasted.
2. Time Constraint
The most efficient workflow is one that’s constantly moving. Team members should get whatever information they need instantly and apply it to their work. But that’s not always the case with written communication.
In written communication, the sender sends the message to the receiver. Instead of getting an instant response, they have to wait until the receiver receives the message and then replies. The time spent in between can be costly in urgent situations. The damage may have already been done before the information was gathered.
3. A Lack of Flexibility
The message you sent to a colleague at work might contain inaccurate information. You might want to update the message for more clarity. But once you have already sent it, you can’t do that.
You have to write another message from scratch addressing the misinformation or including the updates that you want to pass across. Doing all that is stressful, especially when you have a pile of work on your hands.
4. Delay in Decision-Making
Making decisions in the workplace requires some level of speed. Everyone involved in the decision-making process has to be updated with the latest developments and make their inputs in a timely manner.
When the decision-making process is coordinated with written communication, the time spent on receiving, reading, and responding to message delays the decision-making process. You can enhance your group decision-making process with the right tools.
5 Ways to Improve Your Written Communication
If you want to thrive in your job or career, you have to pay more attention to your written communication. And that’s because you communicate with people in writing almost every day.
Ensuring that they understand the messages you convey to them helps you to get the desired response. In light of this, let’s discuss some ways you can communicate better in writing.
1. Identify the Goal
What are you trying to achieve with the message? It’s important that you identify this at the beginning, so you can articulate your thoughts in that direction. You can get people to open and read your emails easily with effective writing.
A written message without a clear goal in mind is like a running commentary. You’ll have a full page of content without saying anything concrete. The content of your message may be misleading to the receiver if you don’t figure out your goal.
2. Step Into the Recipient’s Shoes
Written communication misses the mark if the recipient doesn’t have the necessary background information or context to understand the message they are reading. If you write to someone and mention things that they are oblivious of, they’ll be lost.
Put yourself in the reader’s shoes as you compose your message. How much do they know about the subject? Do they need background information or context?
Understanding the reader’s state of mind regarding the subject also helps you to choose the right words and tone to convey your message.
3. Jot Down Ideas
Having made a mental note to write a message, start preparing ahead for it by jotting down ideas that come to mind.
Since you can’t easily retrieve your message from the receiver to make edits or updates, jot down all your points beforehand, so you can include them in your message.
You don’t have to carry a notebook around for that purpose. A note-taking app like Simplenote makes it easier for you to jot down your ideas on your mobile devices on the go. You can access your notes remotely whenever you need them.
4. Be Clear and Simple
The most effective written communications are clear and simple. Now isn’t the time to impress your reader with big words and grammatical expressions.
There’s a tendency for you to want to come across as intelligent with the use of fancy words, but that’s counterproductive in written communication. Remember, you won’t be physically present when the reader reads the message. So, you can’t clarify things if they confuse the reader.
If you are working on a project, you can write a killer project purpose statement with effective written communication.
5. Edit Thoroughly
Reading messages with grammatical errors and typos is a turn-off. Save your recipient the trouble by editing your messages thoroughly before sending them.
Resists the urge to send written messages in a hurry. No matter how urgent it is, make time to edit it. There might be unnecessary words, expressions, and errors in the messages. Going through them one more time will help you spot them, but that won’t happen if you don’t make time for it. Apps like Grammarly are great for editing and fine-tuning your writing.
If you have a reputation for sending error-ridden messages, people will be reluctant to read your messages. They’ll allow your messages to linger until they have the mental strength to withstand the stress that reading your content causes them.
Passing Your Messages Across Effectively
The verbal interactions at work can be noisy. Written communication helps to create some quietness. Teammates can communicate in any situation without drawing attention to themselves.
Once your written communication is clear with the right tone, you can get people to do what you want without following up to clarify things. You also build a reputation for yourself as one who communicates effectively.
Do you struggle with writing emails to get things done? Here are some tips on how to write better emails faster, along with some tools to use.
About The Author
(68 Articles Published)
Chris Odogwu is committed to imparting knowledge through his writing. A passionate writer, he’s open to collaborations, networking, and other business opportunities. He holds a master’s degree in Mass Communication (Public Relations and Advertising major) and a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication.
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January 19, 2022 at 10:17AM