How To Improve Your Lousy Writing Skills In The Workplace

How To Improve Your Lousy Writing Skills In The Workplace



If there’s one important reason why you need to​ write effectively in​ the​ workplace,​ it​ is​ this: the​ quality of​ your writing imprints a​ lasting impression on​ the​ reader. This reader may be your boss,​ a​ client,​ or​ a​ person who is​ ready to​ make a​ billion dollar business deal with you.

Have you ever read a​ poorly-written document that made you lose interest right away? it​ was so poorly-written that you lost trust in​ the​ author and asked yourself why the​ author was wasting your time? How about those junk e-mails that sneak into your junk box like annoying cockroaches? You know the​ ones I’m referring to: the​ ones pitching vitamins,​ software,​ and sex aids. These e-mails are the​ biggest showcase of​ writing blunders,​ stricken to​ death with grammar mistakes,​ misspellings,​ and sloppy sentences. I doubt these e-mails pull a​ sale because their poor writing style immediately alienates the​ reader.

What impression does your writing leave on​ your boss,​ clients,​ or​ co-workers? Does your writing alienate readers,​ cause you to​ lose sales or​ clients,​ or​ cost you job promotions? or​ does your writing build streams of​ loyal readers,​ increase sales for the​ company,​ and help you earn six figures a​ year at​ your job?

Whatever type of​ writing you do in​ the​ workplace,​ always know this reality: readers believe the​ quality of​ your writing reflects your skills,​ work ethics,​ and integrity as​ a​ person. if​ you write eloquently,​ clearly,​ and lively,​ the​ reader trusts you and you are able to​ build rapport quickly. if​ your writing is​ sloppy,​ disorganized,​ and riddled with errors,​ the​ reader assumes the​ rest of​ your work is​ flawed,​ your work ethics are flawed,​ and perhaps as​ a​ person you are flawed. Why should this reader waste his time reading the​ rest of​ your junk or​ even do business with you?

This article provides fail-safe strategies to​ help refine your writing and help you to​ communicate with clarity,​ simplicity,​ and impact so you will never write junk again. You will learn five masterful steps to​ guide you in​ planning,​ writing,​ and refining an​ article; and you will learn how to​ avoid common writing mistakes.

AIM! FIRE! FIRE!

To become a​ superb writer,​ your first task is​ to​ establish your aim.

Yiddish novelist,​ dramatist and essayist,​ Sholem Asch,​ once said,​ “Writing comes more easily if​ you have something to​ say.”

What message do you want to​ convey with your writing?

To establish your aim,​ ask yourself:

1) “Why am I writing this document?”
2) “What do I want to​ communicate?”
3) “Do I want to​ inform,​ educate,​ report,​ persuade,​ challenge,​ or​ entertain?”

Developing your aim will help you to​ adopt the​ best writing style for your reader. For example,​ an​ educational document will likely be more formal than one written for entertaining.

CONNECT WITH YOUR READERS

To write effectively,​ you need to​ connect strongly with your readers. Ask yourself:

1) “For whom am I writing this? Will I be writing for colleagues,​ my supervisor,​ my team of​ employees,​ or​ our clients?”

2) “How much information do my readers need?”

3) “How familiar are my readers with the​ topic?”

4) “How much time do my readers have? Would my readers prefer a​ short,​ succinct presentation of​ facts and statistics,​ or​ more narration and exposition?”

Knowing your audience will allow you to​ write content in​ a​ way that appeals to​ your readers.

SHAPE YOUR DOCUMENT

You know your aim. You know the​ people who will likely read your document. Now plan your document. What information will it​ contain? What information will most likely grab the​ reader and hold their interests? What points do you need to​ get across? Start with a​ rough outline of​ ideas. Then go through the​ outline and add more information and more detail. an​ outline will create the​ structure for your document. Soon enough your writing will come more easily,​ quickly,​ and with greater clarity.

WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW BEST

At this stage,​ read over your outline and write the​ first draft. Establish the​ main idea of​ the​ document and support your argument throughout. if​ a​ blank white page glares back at​ you like headlights,​ just start writing on​ whatever topic you know best. According to​ American novelist Jack London,​ “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to​ go after it​ with a​ club.” Don’t worry about the​ sequence if​ the​ ideas come to​ you out of​ order. You can cut and paste later.

WORDY WEIGHT LOSS

If you have time,​ step away from the​ document. Come back to​ it​ later with a​ fresh mind. Now add material where needed. Trim away unnecessary sections. Refine the​ text to​ communicate what you want to​ say. Remember: less is​ more. Try not to​ repeat ideas. Repetition,​ unless necessary,​ is​ tiresome for the​ reader. Keep the​ piece moving along. Use a​ lively pace. Progress through your points efficiently.

The following sections address some of​ the​ most common writing problems. Use these tips to​ write more clearly,​ effectively,​ and lively.

I.) PUNCTUATION

a) Apostrophes

Do not use an​ apostrophe in​ the​ possessive form of​ “it.”

Incorrect: Our department submitted it’s reports for 2005 last week.
Correct: Our department submitted its reports for 2005 last week.

Do not use apostrophes in​ the​ possessive forms “his,​” “hers,​” and “ours.”

Incorrect: the​ window office is​ her’s.
Correct: the​ window office is​ hers.

Do not use apostrophes in​ plural nouns.

Incorrect: How many new computer’s are we​ getting?
Correct: How many new computers are we​ getting?

b) Commas

Do not connect two complete sentences with a​ comma.

Incorrect: the​ meeting was cancelled,​ I finished my work early.
Correct: the​ meeting was cancelled,​ so I finished my work early.
Correct: Since the​ meeting was cancelled,​ I finished my work early.

II.) MECHANICS

a) Split Infinitives

Do not insert words between “to” and the​ infinitive form of​ a​ verb.

Incorrect: I was told we​ needed to​ slightly tighten the​ deadline.

Correct: I was told we​ needed to​ tighten the​ deadline slightly.

III.) SPELLING

a) “A lot” is​ always two words.

Incorrect: I have alot of​ work to​ do.
Correct: I have a​ lot of​ work to​ do.

b) “To” is​ a​ function word often used before the​ infinitive form of​ a​ verb (to go).

c) “Too” is​ an​ adverb that means “excessively” (too difficult).

d) “Two” denotes the​ number 2.

Incorrect: This file cabinet is​ to​ heavy for me to​ move.
Correct: This file cabinet is​ too heavy for me to​ move.

e) “There” is​ an​ adverb indicating a​ place (over there).

f) “Their” is​ a​ possessive word that shows ownership (their computers).

g) “They’re” is​ the​ contraction form of​ “they are.”

Incorrect: There results for this quarter were excellent.
Correct: Their results for this quarter were excellent.

Incorrect: Their working very hard today.
Correct: They’re working very hard today.

IV.) STYLE

a) Sentence Variety

To write more lively,​ vary sentence structure. Use alternate ways of​ beginning,​ and combine short sentences to​ create different sentence lengths.

Before:

I organized the​ files for all the​ new accounts this week. Then I created a​ more efficient labeling system. I color-coded everything. I made sure all paper files had been documented electronically. I put these files in​ the​ empty file cabinet.

After:

This week I organized the​ files for the​ new accounts and created a​ more efficient color-coded labeling system. After I documented all paper files electronically,​ I put these files in​ the​ empty file cabinet.

V.) ACTIVE VOICE vs. PASSIVE VOICE

The English language has two "voices": active voice (the subject performs an​ action); and passive voice (the subject is​ acted upon). in​ business communication,​ all good writers write in​ active voice. Lazy writers write in​ passive voice. Writing in​ active voice shortens your sentences and makes your writing sound more direct and formal.

Examples:

PASSIVE: the​ recipe book is​ read by her.
ACTIVE: She reads the​ recipe book.

PASSIVE: the​ radio announcement should be listened to​ by everyone.
ACTIVE: Everyone should listen to​ the​ radio announcement.

PASSIVE: the​ photo is​ being taken by the​ photographer.
ACTIVE: the​ photographer is​ taking the​ photo.

HELPFUL RESOURCES

To learn more about fixing common writing mistakes,​ check out the​ Electronic Writing Course ( http://www.ElectronicWritingCourse.com ). It’s a​ program that teaches the​ basics of​ good writing and editing. if​ you want to​ check your document against 36,​000 style and usage mistakes,​ check out StyleWriter ( http://www.StyleWriter-USA.com ). It’s a​ style and usage Plain English checker. if​ you want to​ write more lively and creatively,​ check out WhiteSmoke Software ( http://www.WhiteSmokeSoftware.com ). It’s a​ program that fixes and enriches your text.

If you follow these guidelines,​ you’ll stop yourself from writing lousy in​ the​ workplace. Your writing will be lively,​ clear,​ and concise,​ and you will build rapport with readers. Perhaps it’s now time to​ e-mail your boss a​ perfectly-written e-mail requesting a​ salary raise?




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