“This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read.” – Winston Churchill
Writing is another form of communication, and it’s one that you will use often in the workplace. Just like verbal and nonverbal communication, written communication has its own set of rules. Whether you’re writing a simple email or an important report, you should try to write professionally by using proper grammar and punctuation.
In some ways, written communication is easier than communicating face-to-face. For example there are no nonverbal cues to distract from the message. On the other hand this can lead to more challenges. It is very difficult to show and read emotions in writing. Written communication must be clear and concise to properly convey the message.
Follow these five tips for better written communication in the workplace:
Write for your audience. Writing in the workplace can take on many different forms. The following are examples of the different types of written communication you will use at work:
- Support Tickets or Requests
- Instant Messages
What you’re writing and to whom will determine how you write. For example, if you’re writing a memo to your entire department, you might write in a more professional style than if you are writing a quick email to your coworker. It’s important to think about who will be reading what you write and how you want the readers to react and respond.
Use correct spelling and grammar. No matter who will be reading what you write, it’s important to use correct spelling and grammar. Usually when you write in the workplace, you will be typing on a computer. Use the computer’s spelling and grammar checking tools to check your work for any spelling or grammar errors.
It’s also a good idea to read over your writing to check for errors that spell check and grammar check might not catch. For example, you might have used the wrong form of a word or repeated a word without meaning to. These are mistakes that only a human brain would notice, so it’s not always safe to trust the computer. If what you are writing is very important, you might even consider having another person read it after you have finished checking for errors.
Be professional. Professionalism in your writing is expected in the workplace. Not only should the quality of your writing be professional, but also the topic. This means avoid writing inappropriate jokes or words. Keep the topic of your writing focused on work and avoid bringing up personal issues that are unrelated to work.
Remember, once something is in writing, it is permanent. Avoid writing anything that you wouldn’t want other people to read, not just the person to whom you are writing. For example, if you’re writing an email to your coworker, it should be professional enough that if your supervisor would happen to read it, you would not be worried about it.
Avoid slang and abbreviated words. When we communicate with our friends in writing, it’s common to use abbreviations, or shortened words, to save time. For example, when texting on your phone or sending an instant message, you might not take the time to spell out an entire word, but abbreviate, or shorten the word.
When writing in the workplace, get into the habit of spelling out the whole word and avoid abbreviations. You should also avoid using slang, or the informal form of words. Not only are these practices more professional, but you can also avoid confusing situations and misunderstandings. When you use slang words and abbreviations, there’s a risk that the reader will misunderstand what you wrote.
Consider your tone. Your tone, or the sound of your voice, says a lot about what you’re trying to communicate in verbal communication. However, in written communication, tone can be difficult to read.
For example, sarcasm and humor are two tones that are hard to notice and read in written communication. Instead of coming across as funny, these two tones tend to either make you sound negative, angry, or unintelligent. When you’re writing in the workplace, avoid using humor and sarcasm to avoid misunderstandings.