Writing at Work? Don’t Be a Jerk: Put the Reader First

Writing at Work? Don’t Be a Jerk: Put the Reader First

Business writing at work can do more harm than good when the reader is ignored. What does it mean to be a jerk when writing at work? It means to write without considering the reader or audience. Because when you don’t write for the audience, you’re being selfish and writing to serve your own purposes only. And that leads to pointless back-and-forth emails, confusing documents, miscommunication and other time wasters. How do we fix this? Josh Bernoff has the answer. On page 5 of his book Writing Without Bullshit, Bernoff asks that we...
Risky Business: Why Writing at Work Is Dangerously Misunderstood

Risky Business: Why Writing at Work Is Dangerously Misunderstood

“I never said you stole the money.” Have you seen that sentence before? That simple phrase is proof that our writing at work must work harder to communicate better. Here’s how: Read the sentence out loud five times and change the word you emphasize each time. As you do, you change the meaning of the sentence too, like this… “I never said you stole the money” means someone else said you stole the money. “I never said you stole the money” means I’m defending myself against an accusation. “I never said you stole the money” means...
Weak Workplace Writing Is Whittling Away Your Bottom Line

Weak Workplace Writing Is Whittling Away Your Bottom Line

What’s scarier than Halloween haunts? Sucky workplace writing! Halloween is here, but you know what’s really scary? The billions of dollars lost each year due to sucky workplace writing. How many billions? How scary can this really be? Oh, it’s terrifying, trust me: $400 billion. Every. Single. Year. If that number doesn’t scare you, it should. Picture 400 billion one-dollar bills piled up high and set on fire…a huge bonfire of money going up in smoke, leaving only a dusting of ashes behind. That’s $400 billion gone, just gone. Can...
Writing Emails at Work: Are You Making or Breaking Your Brand?

Writing Emails at Work: Are You Making or Breaking Your Brand?

Writing emails at work is something we do on automatic pilot but shouldn’t, because how you email matters. Would you show up for work in rumpled pajamas and bed hair? Would you slouch in your chair scrolling through your Instagram feed on your phone while in a one-on-one meeting with your boss? No and no, because you know your appearance and body language are a reflection of your professionalism (and brand) in the workplace. But do you realize the same is true of the emails you write? How you do email is part of your brand In a...
Want to Know How to Write Better Business Emails? Try These 5 Tips…and Be More Productive too

Want to Know How to Write Better Business Emails? Try These 5 Tips…and Be More Productive too

It’s a Friday afternoon as I write this, and the long work week is winding down. That means I’m reflecting on the past few days—and realizing that twice this week my time was wasted by bad business email writing. Twice this week I received unclear emails and I had to spend time trying to understand the instructions and timelines and attachments, write emails in reply to get clarification, and put tasks on hold as I waited for the answers. It all added up to about an hour of my time. You might think, “Well, an hour isn’t much time,...