This article was originally posted on the Purple Ink blog.
Are you aware that you have a communication image? How do others react when your name pops up in their inbox, appears on a meeting agenda, or shows up on their caller ID? Use these tips to create an image that makes others want to communicate with you.
As we continue to reimagine what the work world will look like once the pandemic ends, virtual communication—along with its challenges—is here to stay. One consequence is you can’t take advantage of catch-up conversations near your desk, in the hallways, or around the water cooler. Instead, you have to rely on endless IMs, texts, or email exchanges with colleagues and clients. Your inbox fills, causing important messages to get covered up by new ones, diverting your attention as they do. Frustrated communicators have actually created a name for this: email fatigue.
Email fatigue can be decreased by writing more effectively and efficiently. Think about the writing you receive in your inbox. What are your pet peeves? If they annoy you, they’ll annoy your readers if you do them. For example, think of the time you’d save reading emails when bullet or number lists replace long paragraphs. Lists are easier to write than paragraphs too.
For example, ask yourself how often you’d like to:
- Read what you write?
- Listen to yourself in meetings?
- Prioritize returning one of your missed calls?
See how eye-catchingly clear those questions in a list are? Imagine how much longer and less impactful they would be in a mind-numbing paragraph. That one tip leads to a win/win for readers and writers alike!
Correct grammar adds clarity to your writing too. So many writers struggle to work around outdated or even erroneous rules. For example, have you been told never to start a sentence with “because”? That never was a rule, eliminating clear cause/effect connections when editors eliminate “because.”
Consider the rule about using a comma before “and” in a series. Despite what you may have learned in school, you DO need that comma for clarity. Consider this example. A grandfather’s will stated that his three grandsons Tom, Dick and Harry should share his considerable fortune equally. Tom sued because the one comma indicated he should receive half, leaving his younger twin brothers with one fourth each. Can one comma really make a difference? The judge ruled in Tom’s favor, so it did to those three brothers. It can to you too, especially if a judge rules against you.
Clients then requested oral grammar training, a valuable skill rarely taught in the business world. When interacting with colleagues and customers/clients, especially in meetings or over the phone, are you using correct oral grammar? The most typical error is using “real” for “really.” Do you say, “That’s a real good point?” How about your pronunciation? Do you drop your “–ings” from the ends of your verbs? Say “ta” and “ya” rather than “to” and “you”? Cause others to lose your points as they count your “ums” and “uhs” instead? Maybe you’ve never considered those speaking issues, but your listeners do.
For example, one customer’s frustration with his bank’s call center errors led to concerns about the safety of his investments. The result? He transferred $100,000 to my client’s bank because their agents’ oral professionalism impressed him. Can speaking with correct grammar make a difference? It did to my bank client as well as their new customer.
These tips to help you write right and speak smart will contribute to the success of your organization as well as your communication image.
Linda Comerford is the Owner of Comerford Consulting and a Powered by Purple Ink Member. Add a great sense of humor to Linda’s savvy business sense, and her clients rave about how much they learn while enjoying themselves.