How to Write Well at Work

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No matter your industry, writing is probably a bigger part of your job than you think. Whether it’s sending an email, writing a social media post, putting together an ad, or leaving a note for a customer, your written communication skills matter.

Although some of these tasks seem trivial, they don’t go unnoticed. A 2019 study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers listed written communication skills as the second “most sought-after attribute” employers were looking for in potential candidates, next to a strong GPA.

No matter your industry, writing is probably a bigger part of your job than you think.

Although you can improve your writing through tools like Grammarly or Wordtune, they’re no substitute for intuition around tone – only you know what kind of relationship you have with your customer or coworker, which gives you the awareness needed to respond appropriately. In a 2018 Forbes article, they claim that writing can also improve your job security, naming it as a key skill “that robots simply cannot master . . . [along with] empathy, critical thinking, creativity, strategy, imagination, and vision” – all key skills that make for effective communication.

Improving your writing can also help you avoid embarrassing moments, either for yourself or your organization. Something as simple as a misspelled name can lose a customer, or a mistake on a piece of print marketing can prevent buy-in for the ad.

Here are four ways you can improve your written communication skills:

01 | Start with your message in mind.

Ask yourself these two questions before you start writing: Who is your audience? and What do you want to say? Pretty much anything at work has a call to action, so consider what that might be. Are you delegating a task? Promoting a product? Asking for newsletter subscribers? No matter what you’re asking, make sure the call to action is clear to the reader.

Ask yourself these two questions before you start writing: Who is your audience? and What do you want to say?
02 | Try to use active voice.

Using active voice in your writing makes your message more personal. It’s when the subject acts upon the verb (“Tyler wrote a blog”), as opposed to passive voice, where the action comes before the subject (“The blog was written by Tyler”). Passive voice often sounds more detached and formal, and it certainly has its place, but using active voice will give your writing a warmer tone and improve the clarity of your message.

03 | Write simply.

This often means avoiding the “reallys” and the “verys” so you can get to the point, but this can be done in a variety of different ways. Did you notice how I used “variety” and “different” in the last sentence? Consider if you’re repeating yourself and cut out unnecessary synonyms.

04 | Read what you’ve written.

I can’t emphasize this enough – read through what you’ve written before hitting send or print. You’ll be amazed at how much you catch on a second read through. This is so to ensure that your message is clear, and you’ll notice sentences where you could’ve written in active voice. It’ll also help you catch unnecessary words and make sure you’re coming across in the way you intended. If you’re writing anything for a large public audience, get someone to proofread your copy.

Read through what you’ve written before hitting send or print.

Although I’ve just spent an entire blog emphasizing the importance of writing well at work, use discretion when using these tips. It’s probably not the best use of your time to re-read a quick email or instant message to a coworker. But if you’re at all concerned about the outcome of your writing, use the steps above to create clear and concise content that the reader can easily understand.


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Author: Tyler Voth
ACHIEVE Publishing Coordinator, ACHIEVE Centre for Leadership

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