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The Tricky Traps of Business Writing

(written by Luwee for Hauld.com)

You have been scouting for a communications officer for your new company for a couple of months now. The business is poised for expansion and you need to focus on directing that growth while also finding someone who will proclaim how well your business is doing. Your search for that someone has not been easy.

The Spoken Word:

In any setting, and in business especially, appearances count. While interviewing a potential employee, meeting new partners over cocktails, or learning additional skills from a workshop facilitator, you unconsciously make judgments about a person based on how he/she looks. A more lasting impression, however, comes from the way a person speaks. Accent, speed, and intonation may be overlooked if a person can articulate well. An articulate person has the ability to express him/herself fluently and coherently. Simply put, one needs to have a reasonably wide vocabulary and be able to use words in a way that makes sense in the context of the conversation. Simple enough right?

You are quite hopeful now at the end of the interview, as you lead your best candidate yet for communications officer out of your office. She was pleasant and friendly but businesslike, was fully aware of her job description, and is very tech-savvy too! You begin reading her response to the essay portion of the test … and then sink into your chair in utter despair as you try to make sense of her glaring mistakes.

The Written Word:

In our world today, information comes instantaneously from all directions and through different mediums most of them electronic, digital, and virtual. In our desire to respond or react to these messages, we sacrifice both substance and form in favor of speed. Many have become so used to contractions, shortcuts, and informal acronyms in SMS, tweets, and emails that they have un-learned their early foundations in grammar, spelling, and even logic. The spoken word is very important in business; the written word, even more so.

What are we to do?

Whether you are on the applying or hiring side of the business fence, remember these basic practices.

  • READ to increase your vocabulary and learn new things.
  • LISTEN to become aware of correct pronunciation and yes, learn new things.
  • DIFFERENTIATE between valuable, credible content and plain space fillers or “static.”
  • RESEARCH authors and sources of information. Be selective of news programs, radio commentaries,  pod casts, webinars, and others.
  • WRITE in complete sentences and avoid phonetic spellings. For letters and reports, it is safer to lean on the conservative and not use contractions.
  • CHECK for errors before sending out communication. Use grammar and spell check but beware of becoming overly dependent on them instead of your own knowledge.
  • PAY ATTENTION when referring to company names, names of persons, titles, published literature, plays, music pieces.  When in doubt, do a deep Google search.
  • PAUSE and THINK before you press the Send button or sign an important letter. Is there any possibility that your message will be taken the wrong way?

Sighing heavily, you put away the disappointing test results of your latest candidate and turn your attention to the minutes of your recent brainstorming meeting and some letters. You sign them only after a quick scan because you trust your administrative assistant who consistently comes up with accurate, concise, professionally-written communication … and that’s when it suddenly and happily hits you. Your search for a communications officer just came to a successful end!

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