June 26, 2012, 10:39 PM —
I received an email this week from a reader containing one sentence and an attached resume. The sentence read “Please tell me the next step I should take in my career.” I sent him a brief answer, but would like to give him, and those like him, a longer answer to his question.
Let’s begin by discussing the importance of written communication. The standard party line for this topic is that the quality of the emails you write, the presentations you display, and the documents you create are a reflection of your professional ability, attitude, and attention to detail. Yes, this is all true. Let’s, however, expand this statement into the virtual world we now live and work in.
In recent years, the advent of email, twitter, wikis, blogs, discussion boards, and social media in general has caused a resurgence, if not a rebirth, of the written work by everyday people. In the workplace this is magnified by the popularity of virtual teams spanning across the street, around the country, and around the world. As a result, many of the people you work with today, maybe even including your boss, you may never meet in person causing your main interpersonal communication to be totally phone and email based.
There have been various studies that have said that a relatively small percentage of the communications between people are based on the word and that the majority of the communication is based on body language and voice tone. These studies range from 93% body language and non-verbal queues by James Borg to studies by others ranging from 60% - 70% non-verbal. Whatever the exact number is, it’s very significant. That said, when sending an email, tweet, blog, or other written correspondence, if not written well it may be incorrectly interpreted.
All that said, here are tips that may be of value to you when writing business related written correspondence: