Monday, March 19, 2007

Why Business Writing Can Become Challenging

Many people struggle with business writing.

And, because of that, they waste a lot of time, become frustrated, and do not get the results they want or expect.

Let me share with you a couple of reasons why so many business professionals struggle with their business writing.

Let's talk about "how" we communicate.

We communicate in only two ways - verbally and nonverbally.

The word "verbal" means written and spoken. Many people think the word "verbal" only means spoken.

That's not true. The word "verbal" means written and spoken.

The verbal part includes the words you use and the tone you project with your words. If people do not understand those words, that communication will go nowhere. If your readers understand those words, then the tone you use - how you say it - might become more important than the words.

The nonverbal signals we send with our body language reveals much more than the actual words we use. When we slam doors with frowns on our faces and let out exasperated sighs of disgust, we are letting people know we are not happy. We don't say a word, but people get the message.

Another example of nonverbal signals is eye contact.

Have you ever walked into someone's office and said "Hey Joe. I've got a great idea."

Joe responds in a low, monotone pestered sounding voice, "Yeah, go ahead, tell me about it."

And, Joe never looks at you. He continues looking down at the pile of papers he was working on.

Or, he gets up from the desk by placing both hands flat on the desk to push himself up. Once he's up, he folds his arms behind his back (I guess that's so he doesn't hit you).

Then he starts pacing. While he paces, he checks the floor, checks the ceiling tiles, looks out the window to see if anyone stole his car, and finally checks his watch to make sure he brought it with him.

All this while, he never looks at you. Does that mean he's not listening? No!

He hears every word you say. How does that make you feel?

Right! About one inch tall.

Volumes of evidence show how nonverbals affect communication. For now, let's focus on how the nonverbal affect your writing.

When you write a letter, memo, report, or proposal, do you have the benefit of these nonverbal signals? No. We've wiped out more than half your ability to communicate.

Now do you understand why writing becomes so difficult?

We have grown so accustomed to communicating by using the nonverbal of our body language. We become frustrated when we cannot communicate as effectively on paper.

This is also why you would prefer to talk to someone, rather than write him or her a memo or letter.

In speech, you have the benefit of reading that person's nonverbals or having them read yours.

In writing, we must rely on words and tone. That's it, words and tone.

You do have some nonverbal. If you wrote an important letter to a customer in pencil, wrinkled it while putting it in the envelope, spilled coffee on it while you were writing it, misspelled the person's name, and sent it four weeks late, I think that's nonverbal.

For the most part, when you write, you do not have the benefit of nonverbal signals. That's why writing is so tough.

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