WordPower – Choose Your Words Wisely

This edition of ‘WordPower’ deals with the word choices you make every day – more simple best practices to improve your routine workplace writing.   

The words you use in routine workplace writing do make a difference. They can impact your results, professionalism and image as a reader-centric communicator. Or, your words can detract from those results. So, choose your words wisely!

To help you on this journey, enjoy this summary of the Best Practices I typically share in my training or coaching engagements. I don’t ask participants to change any of their word use or style habits. But, I often ask them to challenge those habits themselves in light of what we discuss. If they decide to change any of them, that’s fine. If not, that’s fine, too.

So, let’s focus on the word use tools in your Workplace Writing Tool Kit. Some of you may find some new tools to add to it. Most of you will find new, different or better ways to use the tools you already have. Either way, you win. So do the people who read your words.

  1. Everything you write at work should be on purpose and for a purpose.
  2. Similarly, everything you write positions you and projects an image of professionalism, courtesy and credibility … or detracts from it
  3. The process of creating effective workplace messages is essentially the same. The variable is the medium you choose to transmit those messages.
  4. Strive for Reader-Centricity. Write for them, not you. Write for them the way they want you to, not the way you want them to write for you.
  5. Err on the side of over-communicating important messages to increase your probability of success.
  6. Strive for simplicity and brevity, but never at the expense of clarity.
  7. Go beyond the ‘first word you can think of’ or the ‘word you usually think of’ all the way to the ‘best word you can think of’ to accomplish your intended outcome with your reader.
  8. Even if you’re simply informing your readers – ‘telling’, you’re still persuading them – ‘selling’. You’re selling the value of the information you’re sharing and your credibility.
  9. Whenever you can, choose precise and consistent words, verbs over nouns, active voice over passive voice and second person over third person.
  10. Conforming to logical, relevant and important grammatical rules should increase the consistency, clarity and professionalism in your workplace communications.
  11. With all emails, include something in the subject line to help your readers quickly assess and deal with them.
  12. No one should see your first draft of important messages. Everyone will see your final draft.

You may have encountered some of these simple concepts before if you’re a regular reader of ‘Communicate Confidently’ or a frequent visitor to ETC’s site – ‘Communicate-Confidently.com’. You may also have heard them if I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with you. But even if this is the first time you’ve encountered them, you should see enough value to put them in your expanding Tool Kits and start using them with every interaction every day.

Remember …  the words you use do make a big difference and you must choose wisely!