Whenever we communicate, we hope to be taken seriously. The goal of effective communication isn’t agreement, but shared understanding. How does a simple goal like that get short-circuited? To be heard and understood, you must be taken seriously. Your worthy ideas and opinions are discounted if you present them poorly.
As an author, I see lots of written communication. I read emails, blog posts, comments, reviews and much more. I’ve seen the good, bad and the ugly. Here are ten things you can do to almost guarantee you won’t be taken seriously when you write.
1. Focus on the person rather than the message. Attack the person reading your message rather than deal with what they wrote, said or did.
2. Assign motives to the reader. Don’t inquire as to what his or her motives might actually have been.
3. State your conjectures and opinions as points of fact. Don’t support your beliefs with anything other than feelings or emotion.
4. Misspell words and use incorrect grammar.
5. Indicate no interest in dialogue, increasing understanding or learning. Write everything as a declaration or manifesto.
6. Assume the worst. If something could be construed negatively, choose to do so.
7. Bait and switch. Appear to be addressing the ostensible subject but quickly use the platform to promote your unrelated agenda.
8. Be threatening or menacing.
9. Use condescending language to establish your superiority.
10. Ignore that the reader is a human being similar to you with the same mixed bag of hopes, fears, strengths and weaknesses.
Like you, I am an author, and it amazes me how many errors books have…even best sellers! We have lost the art of civility in our society, especially in the past 5 years when social media hit the Internet. We spell words incorrectly, use an incorrect tense, and use many slang words. We need to focus first on learning how to project yourself in written communication, but also to think about the person you are communicating with.
Dr. Joyce Knudsen, Ph.D.
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