1. Recognize that the quality of your communication represents the quality of your company.
Imagine a situation where you are looking for a contractor for a custom job you need done on your car and you email several companies for a quote breaking down how much the job will cost. You narrow it down to two companies who have about the same price, and one gets back to you within 24 hours with a clear price breakdown in a PDF attached in an email that is friendly in tone and perfectly written. But the other took four days to respond with an email that looked like it was written by a sixth-grader with multiple grammar errors in each sentence and an attached quote that was just a scan of some nearly illegible chicken-scratch writing. Comparing the communication styles of the two companies, choosing who you’re going to go with for your custom job is a no-brainer.
Of course, the connection between the quality of their communication and the quality of the job they’ll do for you isn’t water-tight, but it’s a fairly good conclusion to jump to, one that customers will always make. The company representative who took the time to ensure their writing was clear and professional, even proofreading it to confirm that it was error-free, will probably take the time to ensure the job they do for you will be the same high-calibre work that you’re paying for. By the same token, we can assume that the one who didn’t bother to proofread their email at all will likewise do a quick, sloppy, and disappointing job that will require you to hound them to come back and do it right—a hassle you have no time for. We are all picky, judgmental consumers for obvious reasons: we are careful with our money and expect only the best work value for our dollar.
Good managers know that about their customers, so they hire and retain employees with the same scruples, which means they appreciate more than anyone that your writing represents you and your company. As tech CEO Kyle Wiens (2012) says, “Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet” where your writing is “a projection of you in your physical absence.” Just as people judge flaws in your personal appearance such as a stain on your shirt or broccoli between your teeth, suggesting a sloppy lack of self-awareness and personal care, so they will judge you as a person if it’s obvious from your writing that “you can’t tell the difference between their, there, and they’re” (¶6).
As the marketing slogan goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. If potential employers or clients (who are, essentially, your employers) see that you care enough about details to write a flawless email, they will jump to the conclusion that you will be as conscientious in your job and are thus a safe bet for hire. Again, it’s no guarantee of future success, but it increases your chances immeasurably. As Wiens says of the job of coding in the business of software programming, “details are everything. I hire people who care about those details” (¶12-13), but you could substitute “programmer” with any job title and it would be just as true.
The quality of your communication represents the quality of your work and the organization you work for, especially online when others have only your words to judge.
Wiens, K. (2012, July 20). I won’t hire people who use poor grammar. Here’s why. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2012/07/i-wont-hire-people-who-use-poo/