Why Good Writing Matters In Business
You’ve experienced it. The feeling of reading an email or other business correspondence that is completely unintelligible. Having to read such writing is the equivalent of hearing nails being dragged across a chalk board. And it is a pain that you definitely want to avoid inflicting on someone else.
Good writing matters in business. It is as important as numeracy, sociability, and sound judgment. Much of your time as man of business will be spent giving instructions, sharing information, asking questions, and detailing plans. Sometimes this is done in group conferences. More often than not it is done by turning such thoughts into written expression. Confused syntax, bad grammar, and poor diction can prevent you from communicating your words—from telling the person you’re writing to what you want them to know.
Writing always presents problems. You have a mass of facts and ideas and aims that you want to convey to others in a certain tone and with a particular effect. Finding the right words and putting them together in sentences that are vivid, informative and to the point is hard. However, you can overcome the difficulty by being simple and direct in your writing.
As you write, your inner ear will give you some indication as to how you sound. You should avoid sounding stuffy, pompous and highfalutin or vague, ambiguous, and incoherent. When possible, prefer the short word to the long one; the concrete to the abstract; and the familiar to the unfamiliar. In other words, use words that express exactly what you mean to say; and avoid cluttering your prose with vogue phrases and technical jargon.
In building up your sentences, ensure that your thought is clear, logical, and coherent. Reading correspondence that is filled with half-developed thoughts and disconnected ideas is a painful exercise. Bad writing is a form of discourtesy. If you write in such a way to your partners, colleagues, or bosses, you will lower yourself in their eyes.
People are busy. When you send them an email, report, or plan of action, you are implicitly requesting that they spend time to hear what you have to say. You should therefore endeavor to make the experience as easy and pleasant as possible.
Yes, you are busy as well. And agonizing over whether you’ve got the right word and the right sentence structure may seem a bit extravagant. But the effort will repay. Good writing will cause you to be more intently listened to. You will find that people will become more inclined to take what you have to say seriously.
As a person of business, you should not discount the importance of good writing. It can be one of the most important habits that you develop.
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About Christopher Reid Chris was born in Washington, D.C. and lives in Britain. He works as a blogger, essayist, and novelist. His first book, Tea with Maureen, has just been published.