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What you write matters

I came to this realization fairly recently, with COVID frenzy still surrounding me I was reading a book and the authors made a passing mention of the importance of writing. I focused and read slower.

If you’re ever hiring someone and you’re not sure what to base it on, check their writing skills. It’s actually really valuable and provides a great insight. But there is a problem, it’s called academia and it’s not really compatible with the writing your employer requires. we will get to that.

We need to write stuff a lot, especially with messages and chats on our phones or computers. Don’t forget about all those emails and minutes from the meetings. That’s a lot and it’s where we have the compatibility issue. In academia they want a particular style, format and structure, don’t forget to reference your sources too fuckers. Nonsense, no doubt. Though I could ague there is some value in doing some of those things a little in order to appreciate what writing is.

Anyway, let’s get to the meat and potatoes here:

Appropriateness

It’s something we don’t think about enough. Is what you are writing appropriate under the circumstances and to the person who will read it? Most people just don’t bother to take a second to be in the reader’s shoes. Will the affect you want to convey reach them? It’s a key insight and an important aspect to remember. I call it appropriateness because it covers the style, the form, the length and basically whatever else you put in your writing. Just to clarify, when I say ‘length’ I am referring to sentence length as well as the whole message your sending.

Be YOU

That’s right. Don’t focus on ‘professional’ or extra ‘smart’. Use normal words but be concise and avoid jargon. This is difficult, because we are taught to follow rules and sound formal and use an appropriate style. Don’t buy into it. If you want to communicate focus on just that and think of the one person who will read your message and if it is understood and clear, like writing to a friend. Is it clear and honest? Don’t sacrifice your personality for formality. People care about sincerity more than you think.

Four-letter words to avoid

I read about this in ‘Rework’ by Jason Fried so it’s unfortunately not from me, but I wish it was because it is SO DAMN GOOD! The words that you should avoid are: need, must, can’t, easy, just, only and fast. I think you can imagine how harmful they can be when used. As a teacher of English I can confirm another thing regarding these words: They are incredibly EASY to learn and use and they are some of the first that student’s of English learn and practice. Communication is hard enough with all the cultural differences and nuances intertwined but now add these four-letter minions and you make the situation black or white and it rarely is so clear but rather a bit more grey then we would sometime like to admit.

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