If you saw the award-winning film The King’s Speech, starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, you know how important public speaking was to the future king of England. In fact, King George VI suffered with a stammering problem so pronounced there were some worries he would never be able to lead his country for lack of communication.
Many of us can identify with the king’s difficulties due to our own dislike of public speaking. What’s more, few of us have any problems communicating orally with friends, family and coworkers. But what about the written word?
You could make the case that the written word is more important than oral communications inasmuch as it impacts how others perceive you. For right or wrong, poor communication skills inhibit both your influence and your effectiveness.
Common Problems Today
As a writer, it frustrates me to read poorly written e-mails, social media posts, blogs, and even news articles. Some of the most egregious errors are those that should never happen. For example:
- Spelling Mistakes – In an era of word processors and spell checkers, there is simply no excuse for spelling errors. A piece of written text rife with misspelled words tells people that the writer is too lazy to use a spell checker. That says something. Even when dealing with social media sites like Facebook, those little red lines tell you that something isn’t spelled correctly.
- Grammar Mistakes – Grammar mistakes are a little more difficult in some cases. I make them myself from time to time. But one of the goals of a good writer is to minimize grammar mistakes by correcting the ones you’re already aware of and learning about those you don’t understand.
- Shorthand – The age of social media and mobile communications has given rise to a form of shorthand that is almost too painful to read. A simple sentence like “How are you doing?” becomes “How r u you doing?” Seriously, are we that lazy that it’s now necessary to eliminate four letters?
- Punctuation – Along with this new shorthand is an ambivalence toward punctuation. I have read complete paragraphs that contain absolutely no punctuation (including capitalization) from start to finish. Making sense of such gibberish is nigh to impossible without an eight-year-old translator.
What Poor Writing Says about You
As I mentioned earlier, the way you write influences what people think about you. Whether it’s right or wrong, that’s reality. When your written communications are rife with errors and lacking proper syntax, you give the impression that you are:
- all of the above
You may be one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met, but if you’re not willing to put forth the effort to produce quality writing it’s not likely people will perceive you as such. This includes everything from e-mail to social media posts. The negative perceptions you earn through your writing will have a very definite impact on just about every area of your life.
If you want people to take you seriously, I challenge you to make the effort to improve your writing skills. Take the time necessary to correct spelling mistakes and grammar errors. Take the time to proof read your writing for continuity of thought. Pay attention to sentence syntax and structure. I promise that a concerted effort to produce good writing will improve the way you communicate with others. Those with whom you communicate will respect you as a result.by