To Write Better, Read More. Period.

To Write Better, Read More. Period.

(Originally published August 2017) Would you read more if you knew you would be a better writer at work? Because you will be. And reading will also benefit your physical, mental and emotional health too. Sadly, too many of us aren’t reading. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, less than half of adults in the U.S. read literature. And the Pew Research Center says 27% of adults go an entire year without reading a book. That’s sad on many levels. As they say, the person who doesn’t read is worse off than...
When Writing at Work, Communicate Faster by Changing One Word

When Writing at Work, Communicate Faster by Changing One Word

(Originally published April 2017) Can changing just one word of your message get that message across faster when writing at work? I think so. Here’s why… I used to drive a stretch of freeway with a most annoying sign off to the west that irked me every time I passed it. The sign was a huge banner for a tree maintenance company and it read, “Are your trees safe?” I suspect the purpose of the sign was to generate business, but I don’t think their word choice was the best for doing so. However, that sign gives me an...
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...