Business in the era of Slack, Gmail, Microsoft Teams, and the myriad other remote work communication platforms we now use requires a lot of written relationship formation, building, and maintenance.
Fostering reciprocal, long-term, healthy business relationships requires an ability to write well, succinctly, concisely, and with your audience in mind. There are many reasons to improve your writing abilities if you are a business owner, from better self-advocacy and clearer communication to less friction in your day-to-day interactions with the people you do business with and manage.
Improving written communication should be the goal of any business owner in our age of remote work and remote business relationships because it almost always cuts down on the amount of friction you experience between yourself and others. Miscommunication, which can stem from something as simple as poor word choice, creates unnecessary friction in business relationships which better writing can address.
You can make improvements to your vocabulary and writing skills by playing games like Scrabble, which presents players with the opportunity to learn new words, both on their own and from other players. If you are new to Scrabble and find yourself struggling to come up with winning combinations, consider tools like unscramblex.com, which breaks down any set of Scrabble tiles into all possible word permutations.
Better Self Advocacy
Being able to write better–from language choice and word economy to sentence structure and syntax–allows you to be a better advocate yourself in business relationships. This can help you avoid being taken advantage of, make sure your ideas and interests are given adequate consideration and attention, and put you on better footing during conversations and negotiations with suppliers, vendors, clients, and business partners.
People are also less likely to try and play language games and try to put one over on you in contracts and other legally binding documents if they know you are an adept writer and astute reader. Since writing and reading go hand in hand, being a better writer means you will be more attuned to misleading or manipulative language.
Better writing is clearer writing, so improving your writing ability, by definition, means you are now a more clear and concise written communicator. Being able to write more clearly means anyone involved in your business, whether as a client, partner, vendor or employee, should not have to struggle as much to understand what you are telling or asking of them, instructions you are giving them, or requests you are making of them. Poor communication can have serious negative effects on a business, from added stress and arguments to complete relationship breakdowns.
Cards and Seasonal Greetings
Sending out cards and seasonal greetings to your suppliers, vendors, and clients is a good way to add a personal touch to your business relationships. Doing this can have an outsized impact on things like client retention and the mutually beneficial arrangements with the companies from which purchase goods and services. Sent internally, they let your business partners and employees know you care. Keep in mind that people aren’t just impressed with the gesture itself, but even more impressed when you are able to use language to say things meaningfully and originally.
Easier to Tell People No
Telling people no is a part of business and a part of business relationships. There will be times when a supplier, a partner, an employee, or a client asks you for something–a favor, suggests a change or addition to a product or service, or tries to renegotiate a contract–and you will have to deny them. It can be uncomfortable telling people what they don’t want to hear at the best of times, but even more so when you don’t have the language to do it eloquently and empathetically.
Improving your writing can help you have these difficult conversations and tell people no in a way that does not cause them to resent or dislike you while still maintaining strong working relationships.
Improving your writing ability and written communication is something that occurs naturally over time if you are constantly reading and writing. It is also, to a large extent, a technical skill that can be worked on and for which there is a considerable amount of information on the web to help you improve.
It is important to keep in mind that business writing has different intentions and conventions than writing for most other mediums, but there are fundamental communication rules that inform all good writing and learning, and applying them will undoubtedly help you improve your business relationships.