Business Writing is an element that has fallen off the wayside over the years and that’s pretty shameful. People don’t take the much needed time to invest in their written communication skills. Personal and business relationships have fallen apart because no one took the time to get their point across properly. If you want to stand out as a business writer and amp up your skills, take some pointers that are listed for your betterment!
Failure to Proofread
This is probably the most overlooked mistake when it comes to business writing. Failure to proofread can occur for different reasons; you’re in a rush, figured you’ve covered everything, or just out of habit. Whatever the reason may be, it’s putting a damper on your reputation as a communicator. Grammatical errors and misspellings can make or break the way you’re perceived, so this is one step you don’t want to miss when sending out that next email or correspondence. Take the time to proofread your work – it will be worth it in the long run.
If you don’t stop to think about the content of your correspondence before sending it out, it will definitely show once it’s in front of your readers. Writing things like:
The team and I are working on improving visual communication around here. It’s something that’s been brought up and we agree that it should be addressed.
Thanks for all you do.
Sooo, what exactly is being done to improve communication? Where’s the information readers can refer to for more insight? No direction, no purpose. Waste of reader’s time.
Responding out of retaliation
This is where emotions meet logic and logic often loses out. Someone sent you a disrespectful, crappy email and you’re ready to fire back. Before you do that you may want to keep a few things in mind:
- Once you hit “send” you can’t take it back – especially if it can’t be recalled
- Your language in the email can be used against you even if the other person is at fault
- Your reputation in the workplace and your career could be at stake
All kinds of checks are done these days in the employment world, including how well you get along with others in the office. To have a minor disagreement in person is one thing, but if there is record of you going back and forth on email, you have documented evidence against you that could be elevated to human resources and beyond. That is something you don’t want, of course, so be careful of how you respond to nasty emails. Go here for more information on resolving these types of problems.
Not considering the reader
Information overload or too little information can easily come into play when you don’t take time to think about WHO is reading your email or correspondence. If it’s more than one person being included, make sure everyone is on the same page about the subject, that one doesn’t know more than the others – at least don’t make that obvious in the email.
Using the wrong voice
Email at work can be used casually at times but with caution. Again, this depends on the recipient. Writing an email to your colleague who is on your same level may not require as much formalities as opposed to writing to someone in upper management. These types of emails should obviously be more professional. Be mindful of the language you use.
If you’ve sent some type of correspondence to someone that leaves an issue unresolved or requires them to get back to you, be sure to follow up with them. With people multi-tasking and doing other things in the job, it can be easy to forget about that email you sent them. You should track this for yourself; create a follow up reminder after a certain number of days to circle back with them. You’ll often find that they’ll appreciate you following up. It shows that you are responsible and believe in closing out loose ends.
Staying on subject
Don’t let the subject line say one thing and your email is saying something else entirely. Be sure to stay on topic as it shows you are functioning clearly and are organized. Starting off on one subject and going down the road of another can create confusion and leave things unresolved.
Many organizations are strict when it comes to use of company email and have guidelines as to how it can be used. Even if your place of employment is laid back, do not get comfortable using emails at work for personal activities. Planning the kid’s birthday party or using your work address to order items online is not the way to go. Some places allow access to personal email using the work computers. Be careful with this as well. It’s just best to keep the two separated. Keep the personal use of email at work at a minimal.
It’s always best to bring your point up front, which goes with stating the purpose of the email. The reader should not have to go through several sentences or an entire paragraph to find out why you’re writing to them. If it’s something more involved such as a report or proposal, be sure to provide a summary of sorts that directly explains what is attached or what follows in the pages ahead.
Wrong use of CC and BC
The “To” “CC” and “BC” definitely exist for a reason. Many times, these email features are dramatically misused. Here is a quick breakdown of each field and it’s main purpose:
To: This is quite obvious. You’re using this field to communicate directly to the person who will be the recipient of your message. Not only the recipient but also the person who is requested to take action to your message. For example, when you send your boss an email requesting a new date for the meeting that was cancelled, the To field will of course have your boss’s name in it, therefore it is your boss who will provide the action response. Not anyone else listed in the other fields.
CC: “Courtesy Copy” or “Carbon Copy” is what CC stands for, meaning, you’re including someone else in an email for them to have an idea of what’s going on. They’re not being left out of the loop. This typically means no action is required from them. They do not have to (or should be expected to) respond if they’re being CC’d.
BC: Stands for “Blind Copy”. This function is typically used for privately including someone on an email, while the CC is for everyone to see. No one in the To or CC fields are able to see who’s included in the BCC. Be sure of your intention when using this function, as sticky situations can occur if you’re using it for malicious reasons.
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