|Whenever we face the task of writing a report, preparing a proposal, completing a staff study, or composing a business letter, we go through the same series of logical steps. First we recognize the problem and/or the purpose with which the message must deal. Then we plan the content of the communication to achieve our goal. Next we organize our ideas so that they will be presented in an order that is logical and psychologically effective. Later we have to write the first draft, which must be followed by careful editing. It is imperative to make sure that what we have written is stated clearly, completely, correctly, and concisely. Writing the final draft from the edited version then becomes almost a simple formality.
In sum, the planning step pays dividends to both the writer and the reader. A working outline gives the writer an agenda to follow in creating a clear, organized document. That outline, as translated into headings and paragraph beginnings, serves the reader as a road map for following the writer’s thoughts. The end result of such orderly sending and receiving is successful communication.
When we communicate, we attempt to transmit ideas. We select words, order them into sentences and connect the sentences to build paragraphs. The way business people handle those three elements largely determines how effective they are in making themselves understandable to others. Creating and maintaining high standards for written communication in the workplace is hard work on the part of the manager. But the effort is well repaid as subordinates begin to practice the same standards set by the manager. The alternative -simply letting poor writing go forward- backfires eventually on the bottom line, as clients, stockholders, and the public lose faith in a company that can’t communicate accurately and clearly. Effective written communications succeed in both rational and emotional ways. Skilled business writers convey and arouse feelings as well as communicate facts and ideas.
Every company, big or small, communicates to dozens of different publics. These publics are either internal or external to the firm: employees, suppliers, dealers, distributors, manufacturers, customers, vendors, prospective purchasers, government agencies, community groups, educational institutions, and so on. Of the many types of written or printed communication forms, such as newspaper and magazine advertisements, direct mail pieces, telegrams, reports, and letters, it is certainly letters are used most frequently.
Our modern world of computer and electronic communication, like the Internet and the use of e-mails, has made a striking difference in our use of business letters, as information now can be send quicker and at less cost than in the past. But although the transmission of the business letter is changing, the essential act of sending a message from one person to another remains the same. Since one person is still communicating with another, it is important to be aware of and practice the basic principles of successful business communication.