You only need to observe the variety of political Twitter accounts to understand the power of words — and how their meanings have tragically become mis-read. Who would ever have imagined that this abbreviated form of communication could influence so many people? These six writing tips can help heal fractured nations and the many online relationships we have in our lives — one word at a time.
Whoever coined the phrase “actions speak louder than words” did not live in the age of instantaneous communication: social media, email, and texting. We watch politicians polarize citizens and countries with just one Tweet. Many of us have seen one email or Facebook post sever a personal relationship. These negative actions can be avoided if we treat words like gold, and not as weapons. As we embrace the holiday season and beginning of 2021 — a time of forgiveness and giving — we share five simple rules that will help you use healing words:
1. Get Your Grammar and Spelling Straight: There’s nothing worse than being on the receiving end of a misspelled, poorly organized communication. Not only does it diminish the sender’s gravity, but it also shows that little care has been devoted to the writing — which we can all be guilty of while writing texts, emails, and social posts.
2. It’s All About the Tone: Have you ever had a “bad email day” where something was misinterpreted? If your gut says that your writing might be misunderstood, sleep on it until you can reread it with fresh eyes. Unless your note is time-sensitive, there is tremendous power in waiting until tomorrow.
3. What’s the Takeaway? Writing should always be clear and concise. In many ways, your note, email, or letter is a pitch to the recipient. Whether you’re writing a love note, a business memo, or sales pitch, don’t wait until the last paragraph to do so. State your reason for writing in the first paragraph!
4. The Power of Writing a Real Note: Many millennials didn’t get the chance to learn how to write a script or handwrite a note physically. That’s a shame, because sending a handwritten note shows thought, time spent on the recipient, and a tactic that will stand out above and beyond anything sent electronically. Mailing a letter or card in your own handwriting can sometimes get positive results.
5. Honor the Format You Choose to Write On: Writing on social media is different than writing a greeting card or business email. If you’re reaching out to a long-lost friend or colleague, a quick note on social media is acceptable. If your recipient is more formal, then a longer note or formal letter can work wonders.
6. Add a Quote to Make Your Point: Enhance your position, thoughts, and feelings by adding a notable quote. People already choose one card over another at a store because of its catchy phrase, clever hook, or tagline; in other words: content. If Walt Whitman says it better for you, it’s OK to pull a short passage to make your claim. Not only will the reader be impressed, but they will also know you’ve taken the time to do some research. If you’re going down that path, remember always to credit the author or source of your quote.