Clear and Effective Writing Is the Product of Clear and Effective Thinking: Successful Communication

The cloudier the thinking the worse the writing and the clearer the thinking the clearer the writing. Writing is often confused with the knowledge of a specific language. Knowledge of a language by itself is not good enough for effective writing as is obvious to us when we consider Arabic as a case in point. Certainly, language is a prerequisite for effective writing but it is not a guarantee of effective writing.

Magic has always and will always fascinate man. Magic fascinates because it holds the promise of easy solutions: magic potions, enchanted journeys, benevolent 텍사스홀덤. benefactors from another world who exist only to fulfill our dreams. In business, it is technological advances in information and communications technology that come closest to magic. While such advances speak eloquently of the greatness of the human mind and spirit to achieve on one level, they also bring out the worst in those looking for ‘magic’ in doing what they have to do without effort.

Technology had made the production of all kinds of work so easy that we often confuse the ‘ease’ as an end itself or a substitute for ‘tough-minded’ intellectual effort. Situations we have probably all experienced are the effect of calculators on our ability to do mental calculations and the rarity of finding someone who can write a coherent, accurate and meaningful piece of business communication and remembers to use the spell-checker on the PC as well.

We cannot deny that technological advances come closer to ‘magic’ than any of the other achievements of modern civilization, but like all innovations they hold out a promise, but also a threat. I want to discuss the threat. Without exception, all the businesses I have had the privilege of collaborating with suffer from a shortage of able writers, particularly among those who are supposed to provide the service. If there is no ‘form letter’ to fall back on, or a ‘paragraph library’ from which to pick and choose, it takes an average of three hours to produce one page and often much, much longer. The longer it takes the less cost-effective the entire business becomes.

The two most common solutions I have seen attempted are: 1) Companies keep written communication to the lowest possible level and substitute oral exchanges instead; 2) They offer some form of training which frequently fails. I would like to explore these two ‘solutions’ more fully with a view to identifying the root cause for the shortage of good writers.

Substituting oral for written communication in small, medium or big businesses is asking for more trouble than you need. Why? Because oral messages are easily forgotten, especially when people are working under pressure or the message is improperly remembered. The first leads to a waste of time because things don’t get done before several reminders are made. A further complicating factor is that as the need for yet another reminder arises, so does the level of irritation of the person requesting the action. The irritation comes across in the tone of voice and the respondent becomes defensive. This can lead to conflicts and misunderstandings which divert the attention of the persons onto each other instead of on the work at hand.

Yes, indeed, we have seen a lot of valuable time wasted in this way. Add to it the need for arbitration from a third of fourth party in the organization and you begin to get a fairly realistic picture of how eight working hours can be completely wasted. Poor written communication is no solution either, because the time will be spent trying to figure out the meaning of the message or communicating over the telephone, to get clear answers to the ambiguous written message.

The other solution attempted is ‘training’. That often fails because the wrong people get selected for training. There is no point training a secretary or supervisor to write properly if their manager has not upgraded his own skills and expects them to write the way he does regardless of the rightness or wrongness of his/her own writing. In such cases training only serves to create further frustration and misunderstanding.

Training works when it grows out of a proper understanding of how the organizational culture of the company works and who does what, how and why. That means there has to be different levels and approaches to training, if it is to be an effective solution. It also has to become part of the relevant permanent system within the organization, or it is money down the drain.

Why, then, is it so difficult to find individuals who can write accurately, clearly and communicate the intended message to the receiver in the appropriate tone? I believe that the root cause is a fundamental misunderstanding of what writing really is. Writing is the expression of thought in scripted form.

The cloudier the thinking the worse the writing and the clearer the thinking the clearer the writing. Writing is often confused with the knowledge of a specific language. Knowledge of a language by itself is not good enough for effective writing as is obvious to us when we consider Arabic as a case in point. Certainly, language is a prerequisite for effective writing but it is not a guarantee of effective writing.

The solution? If people don’t have the requisite language skills, you can’t begin to train them to write effectively. You need to bring them up to the minimum acceptable standards first. Second, if they lack the requisite thinking and analytical skills related to logic and judgement, you must include this component as an essential ingredient in your improvement program. If this is not possible, drop the job.

Clear and effective writing is the product of clear and effective thinking. Technology, no matter how advanced, can never replace making sound judgments. The judgement includes selecting the right paragraph for the situation from a set of ‘stock paragraphs’ in a paragraph library, if you can’t produce them yourself.

Technology will definitely help you get further, faster and with better results, but only if you can outsmart the Tiger. There is no substitute for developing intellectual efficiency; not yet anyway. Genetic engineering is well on its way though. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. True magic?

Fay Niewiadomski researched the subject of “Managing Change through Needs-Based Assessment’ in large Lebanese Organizations” for her doctoral work at the University of East Anglia in the uk. She also did extensive work on attitude change through Theatre. She directed tens of theatrical productions, taught interpersonal communication skills, creative writing and media courses during her years in university as a professor at AUB and LAU and as Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at NDU. It is this solid foundation in education management and expertise in communication media that she brings to ICTN.

In 1993, she founded ICTN. ICTN provides complete management services to its clients who are among the leading regional and multinational players. Fay has expanded her capabilities in the field of management consulting, training and development as well as coaching and counselling. For over fifteen years she has been working with Team Management Systems Development International and is authorized by TMSDI, UK to accredit and support other professionals to use these dynamic psychometric tools. In addition to TMS, Fay is a master facilitator in Emotional Intelligence and is certified to deliver and coach executives with EBW-Emotions and Behaviours at work Profile.

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