Your words make a difference. Whether you’re communicating with a coworker or pitching a product to a potential customer, your words convey your professionalism, your ideals, and your confidence. Our reliance on email and instant messaging has, in a way, brought everyone closer together and made a more casual writing style very prevalent. In and of itself, this isn’t a bad thing. But the words we choose to appear professional and to support our company’s messaging must be carefully selected.
Sarcasm, sincerity, humor, and other subtleties are hard to convey in text and email communication. As a result, the essence of your message can easily be lost. Using the wrong word in a business communication can affect how you are perceived and treated by others. Inappropriate interactions with customers can negatively affect both you and your business. However, if you strive to use appropriate wording to deliver clear and effective messaging, you’re bound to find great success in your business relationships.
The Right Impression
Right from your very first sentence, your words create an impression- of you and your organization. If your words are too sharp or your actions too brusque, you’ll give the impression that you are snapping at your recipient. People will even think you’re displeased. If you’re too wordy, it may seem you’re trying too hard to look like you know everything. It may be an email message, but it is still the Internet, and we aren’t programmed to read long blocks of text online.
What is key? Omit needless words. It doesn’t mean your sentences are so short that they give the impression that you have little more than an outline. The words you use must have a reason for being there. Be aware: phrases like “The fact is that” bring nothing the table. Your sentences will still mean the same without phrases such as these and they’ll sound much better. Get rid of comments such as “It’s clear that.” If you have to tell someone how “clear” something is, chances are it isn’t and you’re probably just trying to add some false weight to your message.
Commenting on blogs, participating in forums, using instant messaging and other forms of quick, informal communication have encouraged us to use Internet colloquialisms to make our point. It should come as no surprise that emoticons, BTWs, and IMHOs have no place in business communication. Similarly, the use of proper punctuation seems to have gone out the window, with the exclamation mark the biggest offender. People seem to use it inappropriately in their email messages to punctuate a word or phrase that really doesn’t warrant emphasis. Unless you are commanding or demanding something of someone, it doesn’t have a place in your business writing. You’ll never see Apple “exclaiming” the release of their new phone with an exclamation mark.
Clarity over Confusion
Whether you’re writing an email message, a blog post, or chatting with your boss online, clarity is crucial. Focus on your message. Don’t hide meaning or intention behind flowery language. Too many words diminish clarity. If your sentences wander around too much and your readers can’t find your point, you’ll lose them before they get to the end. Know what you want to write and how you will make your point before putting words to print.
Be direct and transparent. Your words will convey your meaning and you and your recipient will benefit. The next time you send an email, whether internally or to a customer, take extra time to edit. Remove unnecessary words, add a little professionalism, and make sure the message is clear.
The Language Lab Guest Blogger: Jonathan Trent is a writer and marketing specialist for NextUC.com. NextUC makes communication and collaboration a dream with hosted Microsoft Lync solutions for businesses of all sizes. When not at work, Jonathan enjoys reading business blogs, social networking, and playing the guitar. He hopes to someday own his own company.