My blogs over the last several months have stressed different aspects of writing that need to be addressed to develop skills in clear writing. If you are fortunate enough to have a job right now, improvement of your business letter writing skills will go a long way toward solidifying your position. If you’re still looking for work, improving those skills will help you find employment. Let me be more specific.
Many people don’t believe good letter writing is essential to their economic well being. Whether it’s disinterest, lack of confidence, lack of training, or a belief that letter writing is unimportant, time consuming, unpleasant, or all of the above, many folks just give letter writing a thumbs down, dismissing the entire subject, with predictable poor letter writing results. This is not the right attitude.
This blogsite has previously stressed good letter writing as an integral part of your writing ability, but the subject is important enough to deserve repeat attention. There are many instances where a properly worded letter can make a difference. For example, a properly worded letter of inquiry about a job may open a door of opportunity for you. A thank you letter for an interview may make a difference to the interviewer because it shows you care. Similarly, a simple thank you letter to a customer or client may pay huge dividends down the road in the form of repeat business. Also, a cover letter to accompany a resume is an absolute must. This letter should introduce you, explain why you are qualified for the position, explain how your services will benefit the company, and refer to the “enclosed resume” to support your position. Close the letter by requesting an interview and state when you will be available. Even if you are not hired, this type of approach will mark you as an accomplished letter writer, which is always welcome in any business. Merely sending out a resume without a cover letter will get you nowhere.
Letters should also be used to confirm all important conversations, meetings, dates, events, decisions, etc. In the introduction to the second part of my eBook, “The Art of Clear Writing,” I discuss the paper trail left by Doris Day’s ex-lawyer, the late Jerry Rosenthal, whom I once represented many years ago. While the sea of paperwork created by this attorney was found to be excessive in the eyes of the judge who tried his case against Doris Day, nevertheless it’s a good idea to develop the habit of leaving a paper trail for future reference. It will go a long way to avoid potential misunderstandings and is always good business practice. Adoption of this practice will help make you a hero in the eyes of your employer. Even if you’re not employed, it’s a good habit to follow for personal purposes. Needless to say, all of the foregoing admonitions also apply to the use of emails.
Memo writing as a corollary to letter writing should not be overlooked. Memo writing is good business practice, whether you are sending the memo to another individual in the company or just preparing it for your own future reference. A memo can be a valuable source of information when you are trying to recall the details of a conference, meeting, or other event, or merely memorializing an important conversation. Memos should not be written in a sloppy or haphazard fashion, but in anticipation that someone other than you may be reading them later. Once again, even if you’re not employed, memo writing for personal purposes is a good idea.
One last point, although not directly related to letter writing, deserves comment. Recently I blogged about how businesses were complaining that grammar deficiencies were reaching epidemic proportions. Today, (August 12), one of the announcers in the ball game I was watching complained that, “A complete game today don’t mean as much as it used to.” I’m sure the announcer didn’t realize that using “don’t” in that sentence instead of “doesn’t” was grammatically incorrect. The problem is that he would probably write that sentence the same way. And others who heard him will also probably speak and write that sentence the same way. And so it goes. The announcer who made the statement is a good announcer, but he’s setting a very poor example so far as use of good grammar in speaking and writing is concerned.
Maybe what we need is a National Clear Speaking and Writing Day to increase public awareness of the need to use good grammar.
Please visit my new website at www.agregardie.com, which features both my eBook, “The Art of Clear Writing,” and my Civil War article, “Antietam and Gettysburg – Two Civil War Battles That Saved The Union.”
The next blog will be published on Friday, August 24, 2012.
Copyright © 2012. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.