Business communication writing skills are incredibly powerful and effective, if used correctly. I’ve talked previously about my communication style at the office (Better Communication at Work). I think that only scratched the surface of my thoughts about the importance of written communication in the workplace, and I’d like to delve deeper into that today.
Over the course of the past several years, I’ve used persuasive writing on numerous occasions to encourage candidates to accept job offers, defuse tetchy situations, encourage managers, etc. It’s one of the tools that I use quite often in both my HR and recruiting roles, and it’s one that I would argue is critical for sustained success. Let’s backtrack and set a foundation for business communication writing skills:
Persuasive writing, also known as creative writing or an argument, is a piece of writing in which the writer uses words to convince the reader of his/her view regarding an issue. Persuasive writing sometimes involves convincing the reader to perform an action, or it may simply consist of an argument(s) convincing the reader of the writer’s point of view. Persuasive writing is one of the most used writing types in the world. via Wikipedia
How to use persuasive writing at work
Here are ten quick ways you might need to use some persuasive writing in the workplace. Over time, you can build your business communication writing skills through each of these scenarios. If you have more, please share in the comments below!
- Converting a candidate to a hire
- Getting a manager to see your point of view
- Influencing a policy change
- Getting your manager to give you a raise
- Helping your staff to step up to your expectations
- Increasing your initial offer acceptance rate
- Making new hires excited about their first day of work
- Reducing resistance to change initiatives
- Encouraging meetings to flow smoother/faster
- Negotiating with vendors for increased services or reduced costs
Essential elements of business communication writing skills
Now that you have an idea of how to use persuasive writing, what are the key elements to making it work?
- Passion-You need to believe in what you’re sharing, or others won’t want to believe it, either.
- Perspective-Write from the reader’s perspective. Understand what their ideal outcome is and try to align with that if at all possible. This is the most important of all. If you can do this well and understand your reader’s needs, fears, etc. as well as they do, you’ll have amazing success with these techniques.
- Explain-This is not the time to take the “I’m an expert, just trust me” stance. Instead, try to explain the situation as simply as possible.
- Emotions-Try to appeal to emotions, but try to stay away from fear if you can. Fear is a powerful emotion, but too many pushes on that button yield decreasing and unpredictable results.
- Logic-Use logic as well. Using all logic or all emotion in your writing will eliminage a large portion of your audience. Tying the two together with facts will help to reach the largest number of people.
Business communication writing skills exercises
This is where the rubber meets the road. Let’s look at a few examples. Feel free to write your responses below or somewhere private. Just think through the elements I mentioned and how you can incorporate them to influence the outcome in the direction you choose.
- Getting a raise: You’ve been going above and beyond your normal workload for several months, and it’s resulted in some key wins for your organization. You have the data to back up how you specifically contributed to the bottom line. You’ve decided to write a short exploratory email to you manager to discuss a raise in preparation for a face-to-face meeting. What do you write in order to sway the decision in your favor?
- Influencing a policy change: Your leadership team has been discussing a key policy change that will require all staff to be at work for “core hours” from 8am to 3pm Monday through Friday. You believe that there is a better way to ensure full coverage for customer issues while not forcing every staff member to physically be in the building for that period of time. You have indicated that you would like to challenge the policy change, and the leadership team requested a response in writing. What do you write in order to explain the significance of the change’s long-term impacts to the organization?
- Reducing change resistance: Your organization has decided to change insurance providers in order to save money. There are no immediate benefits to the employees, and many are happy with the current provider. The leadership team has tasked you with explaining the change to all staff. What do you write in your company-wide message to minimize negative responses and encourage support for the change initiative?
I hope I’ve convinced you that persuasive writing, if done correctly, can be an amazing skill to develop and hone. I’ve seen great success with it, and I try to get better every single day through practice and learning from my mistakes. Building business communication writing skills takes time and effort, but it’s wroth it in the long run!
I’d love to hear from some of you who have used this technique in your own career. How did it work out for you?