Saturday, October 22, 2011

Effective communication

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.   
~~Mark Twain (1835-1910)

On Friday, I had the fun and the privilege of speaking with a group of students in a (very prestigious) senior seminars class taught by a fabulous (friend) faculty member at Calvin. 50 minutes felt like five. It was quite fun.

All of the students were English majors, many an English + something (film, political science, IDIS). All noodling over what's next after college. 

Curiously, one of the questions I received was about the process of writing.  Is writing well a skill? I don't know that I answered that question as well as I could have.  Good writing, effective communication, the ability to share simple, important, and complex thoughts, words, and concepts is so very much a skill - a skill in demand.  Had I been thinking, I would have brought examples.

The world is full of ineffective communicators.  Poor writers. REALLY bad writers. Awful grammar. Just ask Grammar Girl

When I returned to my office, I had an email from a vendor.  The subject line was this:
Here is the info we talked about or I left you a message
The writer of the email left me a message about his products.  Clearly, from the subject line, he had talked to others.  In his mass email to who-knows-how-many-in-the-bcc-field, he didn't want to take the time to differentiate his lists - those with whom he chatted and the lucky others who only got his voicemail.  The rest of his note was ripe with misspellings and missing punctuation.  I won't waste my time with this one. But it's great content for my blog.  So thanks Brad. 

 Several years ago, I received a resume and a cover letter that started like this:|
Call off the search! I have applied and I am your candidate! 
He wasn't our candidate and we did not call off the search.  Why do people write these things? 

The most important component of writing well is the ability for good punctuation to save lives.

'Nuff said. Yes, it is a skill.  A good skill.  A great skill.  You have no context or idea of how many people CAN'T WRITE WELL.  Or good.  :)  Now go forth, write well, and save some lives.


Joan Ginsberg said...

Their outta be a law for peeple tp get put in jail if there bad righters they brake copywrites to its so rude.

Basudhaa said...

If I may add,I thought for many, many years that there is a difference between how I can communicate with my co-workers and how I should communicate with external peers. I learnt the hard way - there is no difference how you communicate or write. There SHOULD be no difference on how you communicate. Texting is not writing!
Dee hit it on the head (mine included) - assessment of writing skills should be on top of a hiring checklist.

Deirdre said...

Joan - that's beautiful. :) Save it, will you?

Bassudhaa, u r rite. txtng is not writing. ;)