The Power of the Written Word
Posted by Todd Smith
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Have you ever considered that you are communicating your personal brand through your daily emails, text messages, and social media posts? Since I launched the Little Things Matter fan page and this blog, I have found myself instinctively forming opinions about people I’ve never met, solely based on their written communication.
The cool thing is that these impressions have been positive for the most part. I always knew that professional and friendly communication comprised an important part of your overall image, but now I recognize its significance more than ever.
How about you? Do you form opinions about people you’ve never met based on their written communications with you? If you question whether this is true, have you formed an opinion of me based on these blog posts? If you were to tell your friends about me, what would you say?
Whether we realize it or not, we are making an impression on people through our written messages, which in today’s electronic world include much more than the old-fashioned letter.
Our daily interactions present numerous opportunities to make an impression with the written word. How many emails do you send in a day? How many texts? How often do you comment on a Facebook post? These written messages can influence a person’s opinion of you. Will that opinion be positive or negative?
Let me share with you a few things you can do with your communications to make a positive impression.
Be Friendly—There’s no doubt about it: I notice communication from people who take an extra few minutes to add a friendly phrase or comment. And it’s so easy. Start with your next email. It could be as simple as opening your email with: “Hi, Kathy. It’s great hearing from you”; and closing it with “I hope you have a great weekend. Please tell Bob I said hi.”
As someone who thinks about time management every day, I have learned spending an extra few seconds to be friendly is worth the investment of time.
Be Appreciative—Some of the people who stand out most in my mind are those who have taken an extra few seconds to express their appreciation for the time I have invested in writing my posts on the Little Things Matter Facebook fan page and the lessons in this blog. When we take the time to express our gratitude, people notice. They feel valued and respected and will generally return the sentiment.
Be Authentic—I believe authenticity is more important today than anytime I can remember. The recession has caused people to be less trusting and more skeptical. As a result, I believe people are instinctively drawn to those who are authentic and humble in all of their communications.
Watch Your Tone—Do you notice the tone people convey in their written communications? Can you tell when they are aggravated, overly firm, short, or hurt? The overall tone of a written message affects the reader just as one’s tone of voice affects the listener. So before you send an email, it’s a good rule of thumb to re-read it and ask yourself “Am I proud of the tone of this message?”
Be Direct—As someone who reads and responds to many messages each day, I must admit that when people ramble on in their communication, I think to myself “Come on; get to the point!” Poor sentence structure, wordiness, and disorganized thoughts combine to make a negative impression. One of the things I try to focus on in ALL my communications is to be clear and say what needs to be said using the fewest number of words possible.
Use People’s Names—Just as people notice when you say their name, they are also aware when they read their name. Writing “Hi, Joe” or “Hey, Sue” or “Thanks, Karen” just takes a few extra seconds and makes the person feel important.
Show an Interest in Others—One of the best ways to build new relationships with people through social media is to comment on their posts. It can be as simple as clicking the “Like” button on someone’s Facebook comment. By doing so, you show an interest in them. Remember, when you show an interest in others and the things that are important to them, they will reciprocate.
Proof What You Type—Make it a habit to proof everything you type before sending it. I NEVER send an email or text without proofing it at least once. Before posting on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, I proofread the copy at least three times. And even then, I have made mistakes. Look for obvious misspellings, missing words, and grammatical errors. Use an online dictionary for assistance.
Make a Positive Impression
Begin to focus on your written communication. Think before you write. Pause before you “send.” Consider the impression you are making with the written word. Starting TODAY, implement these simple tips to create a lasting positive impression on all those with whom you communicate.
Success comes from the compounding effect of small, daily improvements.
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