Improve Inter-company Communication with Your Writing

Effective inter-company communication shouldn’t be difficult, yet a lack of writing skills across the professional spectrum has made ineffective communication the norm. And while many companies do focus on using persuasive writing and other forms of effective communication with outside parties, most companies – and leaders – neglect positive inter-company communication.

Per an article from Inc., a Holmes report found that the cost of ineffective communication in the workplace has reached $37 billion. In the 400 corporations (with 100,000-plus employees in the U.S. and U.K.) surveyed, each organization saw an estimated average cost of $62.4 million per year in lost productivity thanks to poor communication.

Conversely, this same report found that companies with leaders who communicate effectively both inside and outside their corporation saw a 47 percent higher return over a five-year period.

Moral of the story? To succeed in any profession – including technical professions like engineering, programming and data science – and become an effective leader, you must improve your communications skills.

Guidelines for Effective Communication in Business

Be Direct

As they say in journalism, don’t bury the lead.

Time is one of the most valuable commodities in the marketplace. Don’t waste your time – and definitely don’t waste your co-workers’ time – with unnecessary or frivolous information. Clearly state your point, conclusion, question or response first and foremost, then explain further (as concisely as possible), if needed.

Eliminate Wordiness and Avoid Jargon

If you can say it in 50 words or in 10 words, say it in 10. Eliminate unnecessary or flowery language and write as succinctly as possible.

When it comes to industry jargon, only use relevant technical terms that will be understood by your audience. Avoid unnecessary buzz words and colloquialisms.

Think Before You Write

It seems fairly obvious, right?

Unfortunately, most professional communication is sent under the pressure of real or imagined deadlines… and forethought goes right out the window. This leads to writing that is unclear, wordy and unfocused.

Take the time to compose your thoughts and write as plainly as possible to achieve your desired goal. The clearer you are about what you want and/or need, the less time you will spend re-explaining yourself or answering avoidable questions.

Taking the time to get it right the first time will save you (and your co-workers) time in the long run.

Revise, Revise, Revise

Revising your inter-company communications is a vital step many fail to take in their efforts to communicate effectively within an organization. Revisions should bring clarity – which means revising your professional communication means more than simply checking your spelling and eliminating typos.

One of the most effective ways to improve your communication skills is to purposefully analyze your own writing. In doing so, you will undoubtedly find that you’re not always clear, concise or concrete in your written communication. When you revise your writing with the intent to improve your communication, you will not only clarify your message to others, but you also will clarify your positions within your own mind.

In a 1973 article for the Harvard Business Review entitled “Clear Writing Means Clear Thinking Means…”, Marvin H. Swift, an Associate Professor of Communication at the General Motors Institute, explained in his analysis of a revised memo:

“By objectifying his thoughts in the medium of language, [the manager] gets a chance to see what is going on in his mind.

In other words, if the manager writes well, he will think well. Equally, the more clearly he has thought out his message before he starts to dictate, the more likely he is to get it right on paper the first time round. In other words, if he thinks well, he will write well.

Hence we have a chicken-and-the-egg situation: writing and thinking go hand in hand; and when one is good, the other is likely to be good.”

 Swift’s chicken-and-the-egg analogy worked in 1973 and it stands true today. Indeed, writing and thinking go hand-in-hand – and you must do both effectively if you plan to advance in your career.