Learning to be a more confident writer at work is good for your brand, the business and the bottom line!
It’s sad but true: People often tell me they were nervous to have me read their writing…even when it was simply an email they sent me as part of doing business. Although plenty of people in the business world write without any such qualms, many others lack confidence in their workplace writing skills. And it is for those who want to be a more confident writer at work that I write this post…
The lack of confidence is understandable. Writing means putting yourself out there, even if it’s only business email writing. Our workplace writing is judged, whether openly or not (and usually subconsciously). Our business writing skill level is a reflection on us and our overall capabilities as an employee. Of course that makes it intimidating!
When We Lack Confidence, Communication Suffers
Some try to be a more confident writers at work by writing in (or hiding behind) a formal “professional” manner. They see their bosses write in this way and emulate it because it seems to be respected. But that type of writing gets in the way of clear communication.
Other employees who lack confidence in their business writing tend to write in a weak or passive manner that also gets in the way of clear communication.
And anything that gets in the way of clear communication also works against productivity, teamwork, promotions for the employee and revenue for the business.
Who Doesn’t Want to Be a More Confident Writer at Work?
If you long to be a more confident writer at work, I’m right there with you. It is scary to put oneself out there. Nine people will praise you but the only voice you’ll hear in your head is that of the one person who criticized you. I spent 20 years getting paid for copywriting and content marketing, and I always smarted when someone challenged or changed what I wrote. I took it as a personal offense.
But if you want to be a more confident writer at work, then you’re already in a better place because you’re reading this—and that means you care!
I’ve written elsewhere about ways to improve business writing skills—and so have others. But this post isn’t about improving skills. It’s about increasing confidence.
Because when you can be a more confident writer at work, you will be a stronger writer. Period. Your confidence will show through. Your writing will be read. Your arguments will be sound. Your emails and documents will communicate clearly—the first time. And your business writing skills will be noticed.
Ready to make all that happen? Then here’s my advice for 8 Ways to Be a More Confident Writer at Work…
1) Write, write and write. I say this all the time and I will keep saying it because it’s how we improve our skills and increase our confidence. I’ve been writing since I went to graduate school (ahem) years ago and I still must write and write and write to keep improving.
In fact, one of the best things that happened for me as a writer was a horrible experience during which I had to write 250 blog posts per month for $5 a post! It was right after a divorce. I was a single mom who had lost a bunch of clients at the start of the 2008 recession and I desperately needed the money. But I had to write those posts quickly to make the pay per post make sense. I did not have time to linger over any of them!
I only did it for a few months (three, I think, although it seemed like much longer, years even, when I was in the middle of it), but that time period dramatically increased my writing skills and speed.
I do not suggest you take on such a task. It was a terrible job that I dreaded facing each weekday morning—I mean dreaded to the point of nausea. But it got me through a tough spot financially and it taught me how much simply writing can improve writing. So write. It doesn’t matter what you write, just write. Your confidence will grow as your skills do.
2) Read, read and read. This is another piece of advice I give over and over again because—like the one above—it is one guaranteed to improve business writing skills and therefore confidence. Why? Because the more you expose yourself to the writing of others, the better the sense you’ll have of where your own business writing skills are…and where you want them to be. Maybe you’re already better than you thought you were! How’s that for a confidence booster?
To be a more confident writer at work, read blog posts and newsletters, but also read books, preferably a variety of nonfiction and fiction. The book can be an audiobook. I am an audiobook fiend because I love books but have very little time to sit down and read. With an audiobook, I am “reading” while in the kitchen or driving or cleaning the bathroom. And I still get the benefits of “hearing” the styles and different writers.
It’s common knowledge that reading makes you a better writer. And plenty of famous authors have said so.
3) Be willing to be real. You have a voice. Stop hiding behind big words or a formal or academic style. You might still be finding your voice as a writer, but know it’s in there somewhere and embrace it. So often I read another person’s workplace writing and I feel envy, wishing I had their flair, their style…their voice! But just as I don’t have Susan Boyle’s singing voice and never will, nor will I have another person’s writing voice. I can, however, develop my voice and so can you. And until I am willing to say “this is my writing voice,” I won’t be a more confident writer at work.
4) Accept that it takes time. Accept that your business writing skills are not yet at the level you want, but be encouraged by knowing you’re improving. It takes time. When I went back through blog posts I’d written for a client 10 years prior, I was mortified to read what I then considered good writing. It wasn’t. I mean, it was to me 10 years before, but not after 10 more years of writing and reading and improving.
5) Keep the emotion out. We are writing at work, for one thing, and emotions should be left out of business writing, for the most part. Plus I have noticed that less confident writers are more likely to express emotions in their business writing—or even let their emotions dictate their business writing. When you keep the emotions out, you will come across as a more confident writer at work and eventually become one.
6) Write as if you are already confident in your business writing skills. As Brian Tracy says, “Confidence is a habit that can be developed by acting as if you already have the confidence you desire to have.” In fact, you see this “act as if” advice used in all types of self-help suggestions. Why? Because it works.
7) Get feedback. Maybe you lack confidence in your business writing, but you don’t know what it is that’s lacking. Get some feedback. I once worked with a CEO who wanted to write blog posts. He was confident in his knowledge, but he lacked confidence in his writing. I worked as his coach and editor, giving feedback on his posts, and he improved over time plus grew into a more confident writer at work.
Find someone who writes well at work and ask for feedback. Heck, ask me for feedback!
8) Keep learning. When I closed up my copywriting business at the beginning of 2020, I did so for two reasons.* One was so I could help people improve their workplace writing skills. So stick with me and learn. For example, in the next 20 minutes you could read 14 ways to improve your business writing, ways to clean up clutter in your business writing, and three sales writing tips you can use to power up your writing at work.
Lastly, please know that if you’re reading this blog post, you’re already a better writer—and I hope you have already grown in confidence as a result.
*The other reason was our small farm, which is a job in and of itself!