What Are You Trying to Say? 
Understanding the Importance of Proper Written Language


by: Lori L. Buntman, Esq., Harmon & Davies, P.C.

Proper and effective communication is key to any prosperous relationship. Workplace communication can take many forms. Understanding that written communication can easily be misinterpreted due the author’s writing style, the tone being construed differently than intended, or improper use of terms or phrases, the author needs to make a conscious effort to relay their message effectively. 

Of primary importance is recognizing the audience to whom you are writing. Distinguishing between the text used with close friends from language used in a professional setting among colleagues is imperative.  Style, tone, and vocabulary use should be in line with the audience and situation.  This may require flexibility to communicate proficiently with different readers. Don’t let your writing, and thereby your credibility, suffer because of inappropriate content for the reader. 

In the workplace, make sure your communication is professional in its tone.  This is a rarely emphasized aspect of writing for workplace communications. However, word choice, sentence structure, viewpoints, and expressions all reveal more than you might think about your attitude and perspective on what you are writing about due to hurdles such as generation gaps. What you are saying and how you are saying it can reflect directly on you, not necessarily on the company for whom you work. Ensure that you establish your credibility by keeping professionalism in the workplace and using friendly antics in more appropriate settings. By establishing professionalism and credibility early in your career, you will have a much easier time going forward. 

Finally, check, check, triple check, and re-check your work. As you put together whatever document it is you are drafting, whether it be an email or a manual on a new procedure to be followed, double check your work.  Spellcheck will not catch it all and will miss some glaring errors. Before sending, it is worth spending a few extra minutes to reread a document, or ask a co-worker to edit it depending on what the document is. If it is the first time you are reaching out to a new or prospective client, use appropriate greetings, salutations, and punctuation. While emoji’s or smiley faces may be commonly used in some forms of writing, these are not always workplace appropriate. Avoid writing convoluted emails, formatting documents poorly, and keep the content reader friendly. Make sure the main message you want to get across is being conveyed with all supporting information the reader will need to know. Impressing the reader with the point you are getting across through clear communication is better than making an impression on the reader because of a mistake or a misinterpretation.