Plain business writing course (entry 9): Why worry about my writing?


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Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae.  The rset can be a toatl mses and you can slitl raed it wouthit porbelm.

Okay, so you've probably seen this before, but it remains fascinating how we can read words with only the first and last letters in the right place! Anyway, while the statement may be quite true, most people would agree that having good writing skills is an asset that underlies most other business skills. There are a number of reasons for worrying about your writing.

Rule 9: Work at writing better because people judge your work by your writing, it helps you think properly and you'll have a greater chance of getting the right message across.

Perhaps the product you offer is tangible, that is, one can touch it – such as a vacuum cleaner or a computer. Well, then you can probably relax a bit about your writing skills. But say you're an engineer or an auditor, for instance. The product you offer the client will basically take the form of a document. Would you trust an audit report that's full of grammar or spelling mistakes? What would that say about the accuracy of that particular auditor's calculations? Would you trust an engineer's design if she can't even spell? Sloppy writing creates the impression of sloppy work overall.

Another reason for worrying about your writing is that the more you work at your writing skills, the better your thinking skills in general will become. Why do I say that? Well, let's think about the first most obvious aspect of a document, that is, its structure. The better you become at structuring your documents, the better you'll become at structuring the information in them. A poorly structured document reflects a lack of insight into your subject. Another aspect is syntax, or sentence structure. Sometimes, restructuring a sentence will make the thought clearer not only to your reader, but to you as well! Foggy thinking is often mirrored by a foggy writing style.

Which brings me to my next point: You need to worry about your writing, because you need to get the right message across. Miscommunication can mean the difference between winning or losing a sale, a promotion at work or even the respect of your colleagues and clients.

To sum up: Keep working at your writing skills, for good writing skills will earn your readers' respect and buy-in, help you think better and ensure that you get the right message across.

The following demonstrates in a humorous way how things can go wrong in written communication (found at  - go there for better quality viewing):