Communication and Writing

One aspect of communication that must be one of the most precious ability our society has lost in this generation is the responsibility of communicating in writing. Some people refer to writing as an art. May be that’s why people don’t like to write anymore: art is for artists. I call it a responsibility. That is for everyone. Yet writing is not popular today.More and more people are communicating important matters verbally when some of these should be done in writing. And I am not talking about the texting activities that permeate our world today. That’s for another article.I remember explaining a recurring problem to a manager who never listened seriously; he confirmed this by never coming up with corrective actions to the expressed problems.So, I communicated the problem in writing. I found out later that he thought my writing the memo was because I couldn’t express myself verbally! That wasn’t the case. I wanted the matter recorded in a tangible form and I wanted it received (listened to) without interruptions or misunderstandings. It did achieve the intended results! The problem was resolved.Verbally, we try to communicate an exciting moment in our life or a disappointment, but we get interrupted before we even finish sharing. Worse yet, we aren’t even given the chance to begin. In written form, the whole thought can be presented to get read and digested before a response can be given. Even if no one reads it, having written it brings a satisfying feeling of accomplishment, even a relief upon the soul. The written form can also be kept on file to encourage another generation…I read a story some time ago where a man discovered a drawer full of old letters one day which he had stored away. They were letters of encouragement from several people who had influenced his life. One of the writers was his father.He goes on to talk about his ability to communicate in writing as near the top of his many qualities. He has reread the letters often and counts them as priceless treasures he would not part with for anything.He shared that his own children were now old enough to read and appreciate a letter from their dad and how he was planning to carry on the family tradition writing letters of encouragement.Writing is communication. The same rules that we learn in communication apply here too, except that, the arena in which we stage the communication is made of paper. In a letter or memo, the Sender says what he/she means on the page; the Receiver receives it on the page also. The Receiver then, hopefully, writes his/her answer on another page that will be read (received) by the original Sender, and so on.In my business classes I used to provide at the Board of Education, “how to write letters” was one of the most common requests I received from the participants. I usually started off this section by asking the class to write a letter, without any instruction. We decide on a variety of scenarios from which each student chose to write about which might be a business letter or some other subject.It is amazing how many people just totally froze right there and then. They just didn’t want to do it; they didn’t know where to begin, how to go about it, what to say or how to say what. Invariably, most of the students handed in letters that were not laid out properly in their construction of salutation, paragraphs, body sentences, and closing. Ultimately, they always asked for more in-class practical assignments.Let’s look at some of the basics. First of all, like verbal communication, the simpler the better. Always know the person or audience you are addressing. Write as you would talk to that person. Have your purpose and objective clear in mind. Break it sown into 1. Salutation, 2. Opening paragraph. 3. Body sentences or paragraphs. 4. Closing. 5. Edit.Writing is one of the most efficient and complete way of communication. Many times I have written a letter or a memo specifically because I couldn’t get a particular point across verbally. Or I knew something would be lost in the verbal communication that could cost me a lot of time — or money. So I put it in writing.Someone called me the other day in response to a letter I had sent raising a couple of issues. He apologized for phoning, explaining that he is not good at writing and prefers to pick up the phone. I had another acquaintance from outside the country who even sent me a cassette and asked if I would use that instead of writing. No wonder, when he does write, even though he is the president of an educational organization, his letters are full of errors and whiteouts (he’s obviously running lean, as many of us do nowadays, and does not have a secretary!). The point is that people don’t like writing and prefer to communicate by cassette or phone.Nothing can substitute for the written form of communication. Unfortunately, with all the handy technology in this society, we have lost a great deal of the art of writing communication. Remember the old adage that practice makes perfect? When we no longer practice it, we no longer can do it. “Use it or lose it” as they say. Remember the multiplication tables of yesteryear and today’s calculator?The Internet is bringing some writing back into our lives — more and more people are using it and its technology is the written form! But, there are a lot of discussions going on right now on how this platform is also displaying a great lack of grammatical capability, especially in emails where mistakes are horrendously abundant! That’s often because people don’t take the time to edit. But, also, people have not learned the basics of writing.We have to take up our lost responsibility of writing in our communication.