PUT IT IN WRITING!Written by Rhoberta Shaler
Ever been asked to 'Put it in Writing.'? Sure, you have. Did you immediately go to your desk and effortlessly record your thoughts and suggestions? Or, perhaps, you struggled and anguished? For most folks, producing useful, credible and appropriate written communication requires careful thought. Those folks are wise. Written communication is an excellent opportunity to showcase your communication skills. Writing something down not only clarifies an issue, it tends to gives idea longevity, and, sometimes, a life of its own. Write carefully!
Written communication can be a double-edged sword, can't it? Well done, it can positively influence your career. Poorly, quickly or thoughtlessly done, it can work against you repeatedly. In a way, it IS written in stone. There it sits for everyone to see...and revisit.
Caution: Avoid putting negative information in writing! Absolutely do not put negative information in writing unless it is accurately supported by verifiable fact.
If you want or need to convey your opinion or perception, do so orally. Say it, rather than write it. Things have a tendency to be scrutinized much more closely when they are in writing. Folks look for inaccuracies and 'fodder for blame' in written communication. Written words scribed in heat of moment can sit in someone's files and become inadvertent weapons for years to come. A negative written communication can become a time bomb just waiting for wrong person to detonate it. In 'Getting Promoted', Harry E. Chambers says: "Enemies created in writing tend to have long life spans." Be careful.
There are a few basic guidelines to keep in mind before you put pen to paper or allow your fingers to touch those keys. Sure, important thing is message itself, however, how that message is conveyed is a message in itself! Grammar counts. Poor grammar detracts from message. You do not want anything to get in way of your important message, do you? Your computer may be a help as it suggests grammatical changes, but, it is not infallible. You need skills to catch errors. You know that your spell checker is limited otherwise it would not have left this poem intact:
GAINING THE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE OF YOUR READERSWritten by Tim North
How do you ensure that customers will react well to an e-mail sales letter? Similarly, what if you're soliciting a job via e-mail, pitching a book idea or any of 100 other situations that are increasingly handled by e-mail? How do you write e-mail that will gain trust and confidence of your readers?
Will your good looks help? Having lots of money? Being tall?
The answer to all these questions is, of course, no. While these things can be a definite advantage in real world, in e-mail, these factors are invisible. No, when it comes to e-mail, YOU ARE WHAT YOU WRITE. (A scary thought for some of us!)
In everyday world, trust and confidence are influenced by many things. These include your occupation, signs of affluence, height, dress and looks. It may not be fair, but we *are* judged by these criteria. Tall men *do* have an advantage. Well-dressed people *are* treated better in shops.
In an e-mail message, though, these visual cues are not present, so how do we earn trust and confidence? Here's a posting to a newsgroup that I noticed many years ago. It's as true now as it was then.
From: xxx xxx Newsgroups: alt.culture.usenet Subject: Re: Musings on readability (longish response) Date: 12 Apr 93 04:53:35 GMT
xxxx xxxx writes: > ... > On internet, "you are what you write" defines > how people are perceived. > ...
Electronic communications *does* become something of a "you are what you write" situation. Someone who doesn't have ability to speak clearly will generally do only slightly better when writing. Non-sequiters and poor logical organization will make readers think less of author as a person to be respected. ... Formatting is *not* wasted bandwidth. Without assistance of body language and other sideband information available in visual contact communications, other means are found to evaluate sincerity and intelligence of person "speaking."