Consistent, effective written communication is a key foundational skillset for everyday internal and external business documents and directly reflects your company’s overall ethos and values. Clear, incisive correspondence improves company culture while demonstrating to everyone that your business values clear communication and professionalism. It can help people to understand their respective roles and responsibilities as well as their expectations and increase productivity and confidence. Improved written communications that are open and honest decrease misunderstandings and confusion which can be costly and time consuming. A clear, concise and communicative company using a consistent and professional style and format is much more appealing to customers and clients.
The fundamentals of positive communications
Go back to basics
Three steps to excel
- Plan – think carefully about what you want to say and how you should say it. Show your clear purpose and, if appropriate, explain carefully what you want the recipient to do. Consider ways that you can make your messaging positive from the outset, even if it’s dealing with a challenging subject or issue. There are strategies and tools which can ensure this becomes second nature and a regular way of working.
- Draft your communication with care, ensuring you use a positive tone from the outset. This will engage your recipient and enable them to assimilate the information and work with you and is much more effective than any negative approach. Keep your language simple and to the point and stay on topic – being clear and succinct makes it much easier for the reader to understand exactly what you are saying and also requiring from them.
- Once complete, check your communication carefully before you send it and consider the impact it will have on the recipient. Does it accurately communicate your message, and will it promote a positive response and action? Will it achieve the goals you set out in step 1? Have you positively influenced the recipient and how will they be feeling after reading your communication – positive and ready to act with you? Have you carefully proofed it?
It’s helpful to consider some basic guidelines which will differ between different modes of writing. For example, letters are more formal and should strike the right balance between the personal (using the customer’s name and your full contact details) and the more technical and professional detail such as company templates, a clear subject line and using bold to emphasise important points rather than underlining or capitals which can appear ‘shouty’ and rude.
Be clear on the message and deliver it by offering solutions and empathy first, as well as support to help customers help themselves where relevant, and clear, specific time scales and progress reports to manage expectations. A strong round up of next steps including timings, full follow up contact details and confirmed understanding of the action plan on both sides is reassuring and underpins your willingness to help. Finishing with something more personal and relevant to the recipient’s situation will show that you have really listened and engaged.
Emails and social media – beware the pitfalls
When it comes to emails and social media communications, the style is more informal, and care should be taken to always remain professional. It’s more important than ever to take a pause before you respond, and only write when you are calm and in a positive frame of mind. Follow steps 1-3 as outlined above, incorporating company standards for the email signature and clear, contact details. Be careful that you are only writing things that you would say directly to that person, that you are not replacing a difficult conversation with an email and avoid long email trails and cc’ing people in unnecessarily which can be an irritating waste of time.
A powerful connection and a key consideration
Effective written communications are powerful and create a connection with your audience. Regardless of the channel, it is a record and people may refer to it later so it’s important to consider the lasting impact of what you write, alongside the instant impact and whether your creation will elicit the positive response you are looking for. Communication is an important element in building relationships with customers and colleagues as clear messages help build trust and integrity between the writer and recipient. Empowering your people to create positive, well-written and professional communication should be an essential consideration because it helps to define goals, identify problems and arrive at solutions across every aspect of your business.
To learn how MGI’s unique Mindset, Language & Actions Toolkit can empower your people with the skills and abilities to excel in written communications as an integral part of their overall outstanding service, please get in touch here.