“That’s fine.” “That’s fine!” (Notice the exclamation.) If I read the first one, I’m inclined to feel that all was anything but fine; in fact I’d be nervous that “fine” meant the suggestion was barely acceptable, whereas the second one lets me know we’ve instilled some confidence. When I hear “Thank you for taking the time to interview me, I’m interested in the position,” I question whether the candidate is truly excited at the prospect of working for me or simply going through the motions. On the contrary, a response like, “After speaking with you, I’m even more excited about the position you’ve described and can’t wait to meet you and the team in person to learn more about the offer!” lets me know I’ve got a very interested candidate who I should learn more about. These common scenarios highlight how important written communication is in building relationships and creating business success. In the case of the two job candidates, our first choice, whose communication with me was the perfect mix between conversational and emotive, yet professional, almost caused us to lose an opportunity with a truly gifted employee. That candidate accepted another offer, so we went with our second choice, leaving me nervous after her email communication was terse and impersonal. Turns out she was a fantastic fit; it just didn’t come across in her written communication.
Typically, communication structured in the way it would be spoken helps the reader understand what’s being communicated. As a firm charged with helping elevate our clients’ communication, it’s imperative that we lead by example with our own writing, including email and social media. Unlike verbal communication, the written word opens the door for interpretation because key attributes of communication, like tone, inflection, facial expression, and body language are lost. That makes word choice, sentence structure, and punctuation incredibly important in helping to get the intended message across. In a world where texting and email have significantly abbreviated dialogue and verbal communication has been relegated to the corner, it’s harder than ever to convey emotion. As with any client-facing business, building rapport with clients and staff is as important as the work we’re producing, so how we communicate can help make or break a relationship. Are you getting your message across? Read it out loud, and hear how it sounds.
–Rachel Kay is president of Rachel Kay Public Relations (RKPR), a boutique PR agency specializing in national CPG brands, including Barbara’s, BARE, Sambazon, Pharmaca, Goodbelly and Zulka. You can find her on Twitter at @rachelakay.