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Effective Written Communication: Introduction and When and When Not to Use Written Communication

Importance, 5 C’s of effective writing communication, When to use written communication, When not to use written communication.

Effective written communication: introduction

In writing, you want to capture the attention of your reader and communicate your message. Ultimately, when you share your perspective in writing, you clarify the reader's understanding of a subject. Written communication is characterized by certain characteristics, and if you incorporate these characteristics into your work, it will increase its effectiveness.

Importance

Written communication can sometimes be even more valuable than spoken communication. Regular speech is meaningless unless it's recorded. In the meantime, written communications are records that can be referred to again later. To accomplish this, you must also take into account the impact of what you write after you have created a connection with your readers. In the beginning, you need to consider how you intend to convey your message to your audience, as well as how it will affect them.

5 C’s of effective writing communication

There are many things to consider when it comes to writing good communication: the target audience, the topic, your purpose, etc. There are some characteristics of all good written communication, however:

Connection - Creating a connection between author and reader is the purpose of good written communication.

Clarity - Clear and concise writing makes it easier for the reader to comprehend.

Cause - It's essential both the writer and the reader understand what the reason for writing is, as well as any specific action you need from them.

Conciseness - Good written communication stays on the topic rather than rambling around and including unnecessary information.

Correctness - Written communication should be accurate, grammatically correct, with the correct tone and inoffensive language.

When to use written communication

Written communication is communication that takes place in writing. Writing the message and sending it to the recipient is the method of communication in this communication. Written communication is an important type of formal communication and is used most often to communicate decisions, orders, and instructions. In the same way, subordinates can communicate with their bosses directly through written communication about their problems, suggestions, opinions, and views. As well as letters, memos, circulars, manuals, notices, reports, questionnaires, etc., written communication can take many different forms. Generally, written communication is used when the audience is located at a distance or when it is needed to keep a permanent record for future reference if a problem does arise.

It's more effective to communicate via written means when-

The following conditions make written communication more effective, despite people spending more time on oral communication:

Conveying complex information

The written word is better than oral communication when conveying complex information. The receiver can read the written document several times until they understand the message completely.

Need permanent record

In the event that a record for future reference needs to be kept, it is preferable to communicate by writing.

Communicating with a large audience

Especially when the audience is large and geographically dispersed, written communication becomes more effective. In some cases, a sender may want to communicate repeatedly using the same information sheet or written document.

Less need for interaction with the audience

Written communication maybe your best option if you are not interested in immediate interaction with your audience.

Maintaining uniformity of application

Any message intended for uniform distribution should be written rather than spoken if it is meant to be applied uniformly in different locations.

When not to use written communication

There are certain situations where written communication should be avoided at any cost. Such situation includes:
  • During crises
  • When verbal communication is enough
  • Critical situations
  • When personal discussions are enough to get the idea
  • To share general ideas
  • To get clarifications
  • To brainstorm
  • To resolve any conflict – verbal communication should be preferred because feelings are expressed in a good way in that kind of communication.
  • Certain meanings have different meanings in certain cultures, or cross-cultural barriers may arise due to which misunderstanding may take place.
There are certain disadvantages of written communication as well, due to which you need to avoid written communication during such situations. These includes:

Impersonality

Messages conveyed via written communication are less emotionally charged than those conveyed via oral communication. In the face-to-face setting, people prefer to receive important information, such as getting fired, getting a promotion, breaking up with a romantic partner, or proposing marriage. In-person, communication is more effective at building personal relationships than writing or emailing.

Possibility of miscommunication

Unlike spoken communication, written communication excludes nuances in tone of voice or body language, increasing the possibility of miscommunication. The use of humor and sarcasm in written communication is particularly difficult, and they can be misconstrued as insults. People are forced to write in a formal, serious tone, which contributes to written communication being too impersonal.

Lack of instant feedback

A speaker's next remarks are often influenced by instant verbal and non-verbal feedback generated by oral communication. It is difficult for written communication to have the spontaneity of oral communication, and even some forms of digital communication like text or instant messaging lack this important element. Communication written in writing cannot immediately be adjusted to meet the needs of an audience, clarify a question or address a rebuttal. Also, miscommunication may go unnoticed for too long, which would delay the writer's ability to correct it.

Cost, materials, and storage

Because written communication takes longer than verbal communication, it may be more expensive for businesses to communicate this way. As well as printing, ink, and paper, hard copies of written communication require storage space. The storage of electronic communications is often necessary, although it is often cheaper and more space-efficient than storing them in hard copy. It is possible to lose or destroy stored material, regardless of whether it is hard to copy or electronic.

Liability

Liability issues can arise from written communications due to their permanence. A written email, a memo, or any other written document can be used in court as evidence even after it was written years ago, but the words said in the email get forgotten quickly. Moreover, written communication is easier to replicate, which makes it riskier; whereas it is difficult to instantly forward an inappropriate email to thousands of recipients, a spoken off-color joke can offend a few people.
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Ankur Choudhary is India's first professional pharmaceutical blogger, author and founder of Pharmaceutical Guidelines, a widely-read pharmaceutical blog since 2008. Sign-up for the free email updates for your daily dose of pharmaceutical tips.
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