Work communications, I’ve seen it all: emails from strangers signed off with kisses, job cover letters with a vomit of emojis, exclamation-mark-peppered instructions, and lary, screaming caps for 'emphasis'.
These things can make legitimate emails seem just a hair’s width away from spam. And that’s the problem. I’m no prescriptive linguist, but I do think written communications frequently let people down in the workplace.
The trouble is we’re not all good at writing. Many come across far better face to face: they are active listeners, and excellent orators, but ask them to write their thoughts down and somewhere the meaning gets lost. The tone may be warped, or humour lost. The recipient may completely misinterpret the intended meaning.
In today's increasingly remote workplace we’re ever more reliant on the written word as we flit between Slack, email, text, LinkedIn, Instagram, WhatsApp etc. It’s hard on those, who PC (pre-covid), could sinply walk over to someone’s desk to give an instruction or offer some feedback.
But really, this has always been a problem. Communication is a skill that is refined and honed over a lifetime. How many job applications do you see with 'great communcation skills' listed as a requirement? Yet no one's teaching it.
Very few employers send their workers on communications courses. A lucky few might get public speaking lessons but, when it comes to grammar basics, or tarting up cold sales emails, or knowing the differences between British and American English, you're on your own.
Yet language, and its effectiveness at motivating, inspiring, cutting through, and capturing attention, has a direct impact on business success. A speculative email to a new business prospect can only go one of two ways; shouldn’t it be given the best possible chance?
According to Nick Morgan, in his book Can You Hear Me? How to Connect with People in a Virtual World, people think others understand their messages 90% of the time, but it's actually more like 50%. Morgan says that, 60% of the time, recipients of a two-word email or text such as "nice job" or "great work” interpret the message as being sarcastic.
You can imagine the bearing this has on culture, team bonding, and client relationships. That's why it's never been more important to start teaching the art of written communications in workplace environments.
Did you know that Tartle Media doesn’t just do PR? We can also help you improve written workplace communications by training your staff, individually or in small groups, and we can help you devise strategies and style guides. As well as linguists, we're also TEFL trained. Talk to Tartle: email@example.com