Richard Denny Your Success Coach
Written communication has a long lasting effect because it can be read over and over again. It can reignite joy and bitterness. In my years of consultancy work, I have seen the written word cause more aggression, drama and strikes than any other means of communication. The written word, if there is any ambiguity, will always be read negatively.
You must write, not so you are understood, but so you cannot be misunderstood.
Although communicating by letter has decreased considerably in recent years, using email which of course also requires people to spell and use grammar correctly, has increased.
If you want to have real impact and show that you care, a letter or card can be the most powerful way of winning friends and influencing people. In the business world those who want an appointment with a decision maker should write a letter first and then follow up with a phone call.
So here are a few tips to help make your written word more effective:
- Firstly, attract attention with an attention getting word, phrase or line, for example ‘Here is some good news’. Always try to get something positive either on your subject matter or your first words that will illicit the response ‘I want to hear what you have to say’.
- Keep it short. More and more people are getting emails on their mobiles so long emails can be hard to read, try and stick to 2 or 3 paras and 2 to 3 sentences per para. This also applies to letters; short letters get read.
- Don’t criticise or be negative. This is the biggest cause of communication breakdown, aggression and stress. If this is necessary, speak don’t write.
- Read before sending. Never send an email or a letter without reading it all through before sending and ask yourself, if you got this how would you feel?
- Choose the right time. Never send an email or letter in response to anger or frustration caused by one you may have received without first giving yourself time. A great tip, don’t send an email overnight, draft it reread it and then send it the next day.
- Check spelling and grammar. This is so easy with spellcheck, as otherwise you will lose respect and trust.
- Use key words. There are certain key words that have great power when we read them, they will also generate pleasure in the reader. “you” “your” and “mine” the reader reads them as “I”, “me” and “my”.
- Look for the opportunity to send nice messages with positive content, something that shows you care. It’s interesting how Twitter is declining because it’s all about ME!
- Be careful with attachments. Again so much of our communication is on the mobile and it is more difficult to read attachments this way.
- Don’t ‘cc’. If there is not an essential need to know, don’t waste other people’s time by copying them.