Writing Manners That Matter

In an age of rapid texting, we sometimes forget that there is such a thing as writing manners. Yet, bad writing manners may result in misunderstandings, missed opportunities to connect, and cultural, generational, intellectual, gender, and racial discrimination and exclusion.

So here are nine ways to show that you care about manners when you are writing:

  • You use the correct name of the person you are writing to. You’re more likely to connect if your email is personal. Double check to make sure you spelled the recipient’s name correctly and use the correct title (Dr., Ms., Hon., etc.), if any. If the person has indicated preferred pronouns, use those. You are not allowed to judge or dismiss someone else’s chosen identity.
  • You put communication first. Not everyone recognizes the double meaning of emojis, abbreviations of the moment, or pop culture references. Your company jargon and even common industry acronyms may be unfamiliar to the person you are writing to.
  • You are clear. if you are taking the time to write, then be clear about why you are writing. Explain your purpose or ask your question early on–details can wait until later. Don’t expect the recipient to hunt through paragraph after paragraph before discovering that you’re calling a meeting tomorrow at 9 a.m.
  • You choose kindness. The other person may have annoyed you but your response, like their comments, will last a long time in whatever device they are using. Kindness and restraint always reflect well on you. If you cannot refrain from nastiness, don’t reply.
  • You know your punctuation. Question marks indicate that you expect an answer–no question mark, no question. Exclamation points (which should never be overused!!!) indicate excitement. Periods show you have finished one thought and are beginning another. Consider punctuation the world’s original emoji.
  • You are professional when professional is called for. Avoid humor, politics, jargon, and reprimands in writing. They are easy to misunderstand and they may be resented if they are understood.
  • You are reasonable. The recipient may not be able to answer your text the moment it arrives or may prefer talking to writing or may need to consider before answering. Becoming angry at a “slow” response is counter-productive.
  • You take time to check. Is your email being sent to the correct John Smith or did the email program chose the wrong one? Is your blind copy truly blind?
  • You know when to call. A telephone call or, better still, in person or video conferencing is less painful than spiraling anger or confusion over a written communication that may be misunderstood.

By using your best writing manners, you will reach your objective faster: to let someone else know what you want, offer, need, feel, and think. If you or your team have difficulty creating form or individual content that communicates with manners, contact TWP Marketing & Technical Communications.

From our base in Peterborough, NH, TWP Marketing & Technical Communications writes marketing copy that engages your customers and delivers your message with accuracy, clarity, and passion.

Writing with Authority

Countless blogs have been written, for men and women, about speaking with authority in meetings and before groups of employees, executives and peers. When it comes to writing with authority, not a single writer speaks up! Here are a few tips I’ve gathered over the years as a professional writer:

Tip 1. Do not write to impress; write to communicate. You convey more authority if you contain the long explanations, self-congratulations and business jargon. (“In regard to your recent communication, we are proud to extend to you the following proposal for installing our state-of-the-art, quality engineered product….”)

Tip 2. Be kind to your audience. You are the expert at what you do. Explain or avoid technical terms and acronyms, especially if they are peculiar to your company. You may think that “everyone knows that” but if they don’t, you’ve lost your audience.

Tip 3. Deliver your main point in the opening sentence or paragraph. A few years ago, researchers collected emails from C-level executives and their employees and found that C-level executives communicated with fewer words and shorter sentences, primarily because they got to the point faster. If background and explanations are essential, let your correspondent know you have provided them after the conclusions.

Tip 4. Know when to stop writing. If you aren’t communicating by email, then stop communicating by email: pick up the phone.

If your proposals, blogs, letters to customers, emails to management or employees or marketing copy are not projecting authority, contact TWP Marketing & Technical Communications. Our words mean business.