Why professional writing skills matter

Professional writing skills are the backbone of communication, especially for leaders who want to make an impression.

Some people don’t bother with writing conventions. There are more  essential things to take care of than the soft skills required in communication.

Or maybe they learned professional writing skills but don’t feel like using them. For the sake of  convenience, they type like they talk, thinking, “Well, I’ll just add let me know if you need clarification at the end of the message. If they get it, good. If not, they can ask.”

There’s a time and a place for informal and formal writing. Knowing which style to use is like knowing how to dress for work. Your image is at stake. Effective leaders present an image and communicate well, especially in writing — like emails.

Emails  make an impression  the moment we open them. Even if the reader makes it to the end of the message, further clarification shouldn’t be necessary if you communicated well enough in the first place.

Here are four disrespectful strategies guaranteed to alienate your audience and diminish your communication capacity – and respect — as a business professional. Don’t:

1. Write in all caps.

IT DOESN’T MATTER THAT YOUR NAILS ARE TOO LONG, YOUR CARPAL TUNNEL IS ACTING UP AGAIN, YOUR SHIFT KEY IS STUCK,  or IT’S QUICKER. Writing in all caps is yelling. Always. It’s also lazy, rude, difficult to read, and disrespectful. Buy voice-activated software, get an ergonomic keyboard, trim your nails.

2. Use text language in a professional email.

OMG, plz 4get 2 use txting language n email, LOL.

You are not twelve years old; you are a professional. People will not take your email seriously. They will laugh at it. And then they will delete it. Never put emojis and emoticons in a professional email.

Adults have an average vocabulary of 20,000 words. It’s not too much to insist that you use some of them instead of tiny smileys and frownies. If all else fails when you’re looking for the right word, try the dictionary and thesaurus.

3. Put apostrophes next to every “s” at the end of the word.

Plurals need only an “s;” possessives need the apostrophe before the “s. Unless the rabbits (plural) own something, leave out the apostrophe. Leave it out in 1980s, CDs, DVDs, too.

4. Keep’em confused: mix up homonyms.

Its/it’s, they’re/their/there, hear/here . . . you get the picture. Spellcheck is not your friend when it comes to homonyms. Even when you type the wrong word, spellcheck will give you a pass because it’s spelled correctly. We all learned homonyms in school. We have to get them right at work.

And there you have it.

These are my pet peeves in professional writing. There is a time and place for CAPS as emphasis. It’s fun to play with texting language.  Emoticons are quick. Massage the written word, stretch the rules and see what bounces back to you.

Play in your personal writing, in your own social media, in poetry and fiction writing. Present yourself like a pro when representing your company.

Not sure how to do it ? Turn to the pros who can help you with your professional writing image.