It can be discouraging to note that your application or report is buried in a pile of papers on the boss’s desk, or that your coworker’s incomplete response indicates that they didn’t read your entire email. Worse still is when your proposal or correspondence receives no acknowledgment at all. What can be done to remedy situations like these?
Below, we’ll examine a few ways that your writing style can affect how others respond to you. We’ll also consider simple steps you can take to engage your readers and get noticed.
What Your Writing Says About You?
It’s not always fair and sometimes even discriminatory, but people will draw conclusions about you based on your writing. What does your writing style say about you? Consider the following examples and how to improve.
How Strong You Are?
When considering the best words to use in a resume or work-related document, think about the emotional response your vocabulary will generate. You can harness the power of “power words” by swapping passive phrases for action verbs (“spearheaded” instead of “began,” for example) and employing strong descriptive terms.
Avoid overly apologetic wording or self-disparagement. For example, say “I will…” instead of “I’ll try to…”
How Much You Care?
When your emails, reports, or other correspondence contain incomplete sentences, spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, or typos, it may be assumed that you don’t care enough to re-read your writing before hitting “Send.” You can avoid this issue by doing just that—proofreading your work.
Writing too little can likewise weaken your apparent interest. While you don’t want to turn your emails into novels, make sure that they’re long enough to clearly and respectfully convey all the necessary information. Don’t neglect necessary salutations.
How Smart or Capable You Are?
Smart writing doesn’t mean you have to use big words. But others will make judgment calls about your abilities if your writing contains numerous typos, as discussed above. You can avoid this pitfall by proofreading your documents and employing proofreading tools like Grammarly.
Steps to Better Writing
Above, we’ve seen how your writing habits can affect how others think of you and your work. Next, we’ll take a step-by-step approach to improving your writing. You can begin implementing these strategies for better writing today.
Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
We’ve mentioned it more than once already, but the value of proofreading cannot be overstated. If you’ve re-read your document and consulted a proofreading tool but still have doubts, what can you do? Try reading it out loud to yourself. Sometimes you will hear a mistake or awkward phrasing that you weren’t able to see. Then, have someone else read it over. Ask a member of your team to review your work and offer suggestions. If you’re working on a project that will be published publicly, consider having a professional editor give it a once-over.
Tailor to Your Audience
Social scientists often talk of “changing one’s register” or manner of speaking depending on the audience you are speaking to. You do this in normal life—for example, you speak differently to your toddler than you do to your boss. That is an extreme example, but the principle applies to your professional writing. How so?
Always write for your audience. If you need to explain something to a consumer, avoid using technical jargon they are unlikely to understand. If you’re writing to a fellow expert, however, don’t hold back from using precise technical language. Use popular lingo and buzzwords in social media marketing, but avoid slang and casual speech in your professional correspondence.
It’s been said that the best writers are also good readers. You can learn a lot about wordsmithing from reading accomplished writers. In fact, you may find that your writing begins to imitate your favorite reads. Consider reading leading publications in your field in order to absorb their writing style.
Writing outside of the work environment can also help. Try journaling, creative writing prompts, or poetry. You will be practicing the same structural, grammatical, vocabulary, and spelling skills you will use in your professional writing, and you’ll get used to “getting the words flowing” on demand.
Utilize Tools – Responsibly
We’ve discussed proofreading tools. You can also use online dictionaries and thesauruses to improve the vocabulary you use. What about AI-driven writing tools?
These can enhance your writing but should be used responsibly. For example, you can use an AI text generator to brainstorm, suggest an outline, or rephrase a troublesome sentence. But you should always fact-check any AI-generated information. Consider disclosing your use of AI in order to maintain transparency.
Improving your writing can be broken down into a few simple steps. First, always proofread your writing. Second, tailor your style to your audience. Third, think creatively, and choose your words carefully. Finally, make responsible use of writing enhancement tools like AI. If you do so, your writing will quickly get noticed.