Advancing written communication.

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Once upon a time there was only the formal letter and the informal memo, nowadays there is a variety of written communication methods. The basic concern, to avoid being overlooked, to be consciously ignored or to receive a brief and often dismissing answer remains the same. Bryan A. Garner gives some advice on how to advance writing in a recently published book, which was excerpted in a three part series in the “Harvard Business Review”. His more philosophical insights can be found in an interview by Jesse Pearson and Laura Park from “vice.com”.
 
The most often used – and most treacherous – form of written communication is the email. It comes closest to a letter and Garner advises to consequently take the formal aspects of  email serious. Emails should not look “rushed” without a reason evident to the recipient. Typos may be interpreted as carelessness, abbreviations may indicate a lack of appreciation, “cc:” and especially “bcc” recipients should be carefully considered to avoid flooding and indiscreetness. The subject line is the attention grabber and should reflect what the mail is about and what the writer wants to achieve. The text should be as brief as three criteria allow: politeness, clearness, and sufficient context for a reader to whom the topic is most likely just one of many. If possible, a single screen/page should suffice.
 
For some readers, book and articles will give new hints, many readers will find explications and reminders of what they thought to have known already. These explications and reminders are, however, a good way to bridge the gap between vague theory and best practice. Of course communication should consider the recipient, but how is this specifically done? Letter or email? Especially for important communication some guided reflection cannot go wrong – and which communication is unimportant?