With the heavy influx of social media all around, the need for proper written communication skills seems to be a must, especially in the professional world. Be it networking, sales talking, marketing or sharing, this skill is mandatory everywhere.
Here are some basic etiquettes to be applied in written communication:
Beware of your tone
Whether spoken or written, tone says a lot more than you might realize. Read your professional correspondence or emails out loud to yourself in a quiet room. Do you sound snippy? Sarcastic? Demanding? Think about how you want your message to sound. If you aren’t sure, ask a colleague you trust for his or her opinion.
Be clear and direct
Be direct and clear in your writing. Get to the point of your communication and don’t feel like you need to add additional sentences to make it longer. Written communication lacks in vocal inflection, gestures or shared environment hence it should be as clear and unambiguous as possible. The recipient normally does not have time to ask for clarification.
Avoid excessive use of jargons
Text abbreviations, emoticons and other jargons are fine to use in personal communications like friends and family but avoid them in professional communications. Excessive use of jargon can put off a reader, who may not read further. If you are using emoticons or jargons to confirm the emotion of a request or message, then the message should be rewritten to convey that emotion in words.
Importance of grammar, spelling and punctuation
Improper grammar can at worst cause miscommunication and at least result in unwarranted humour and should be thus avoided. Also, spellings can create the same effect or can even reflect a careless attitude on part of the sender. Often people resort to a mixed use of British and American spellings. Which again affects the impact that the communication creates (an issue which can be avoided by setting the language of the laptop/computer to English (UK) or English (US) as desired). Finally, effective use of punctuations facilitates reading and interpretation and can in rare cases even prevent a completely different meaning, which can result in miscommunication, from evolving.
Tempering the content as per the level of formality
The level of formality that is shared between the sender and receiver should define the use of salutations, the vocabulary, the content, the format and even the medium. Though not integral to the matter communicated, this courtesy helps in creating a balanced impression about the communicator. Be courteous. Write to someone how you would address them in person and be polite.
Proofread and proofread again.
Reread your response before finalizing it. This will lessen the likelihood of you having spelling or grammar errors. Never be in a hurry to hit the ‘send’ button. Turn on the grammar and spell check on your computer and pay close attention to the highlighted words. Mistakes look unprofessional and might hamper your written communication’s goals. Conclude your response with a closing ‘thank you’ or ‘sincerely’. Make sure you end with a proper goodbye.
Always remember, your written response is quotable and can be easily referenced. Unlike a spoken word, a written statement can more easily be traced back to you. Make sure that with what you are writing, you would also be willing to say to someone’s face.
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