Communication in the modern world was supposed to be so simple. IM, texting, email, and social media have made it easy to talk, but difficult to communicate. Instead, misunderstandings abound and both professionalism and critical writing skills are seriously lacking.
I am not the only business owner to notice this trend, either. The National Association of Colleges and Employers noted that 73.4% of employers are looking for candidates with strong writing skills, and an article on SHRM.org discussed the high cost of poor email communication – even for small companies, that cost is nearly a half million a year, and up to $62.4 million a year for large corporations.
No small change, that.
Legally, emails, text messages, and IMs can be subpoenaed in a lawsuit. Therefore, they must be held by the business for a specific length of time, generally seven years. Even internal electronic communications have been leaked, causing embarrassment and often loss of business, and sometimes massive fines from regulatory agencies. BP engineer Brian Morel emailed a colleague just before the Deepwater Horizon explosion – “This has been a nightmare well which has everyone all over the place.” That email along with others was uncovered in discovery and prompted BP to agree to a settlement costing the company over $28 billion dollars.
It is so easy to toss off an angry email or tweet. Whether you’re the customer, employee, management, or business owner, it is better to create thoughtful emails instead of emotionally driven ones, especially when responding to angry customers. And never, ever email or text a colleague complaining about a customer. If you’re the angry customer, being moderate and factual in tone will help your cause better than mere anger will, no matter how justified.
Make sure your electronic communication, regardless of channel, is properly punctuated and grammatically correct. Often this is the only way we interact with each other, and it’s important to make sure you project a professional image.
Keep in mind that your emails, even long forgotten, can easily come back to haunt you.
Donna Harris holds a BSci in Accounting and is the owner of Bookkeeping Made Simple. She is currently pursuing her MBA and expects to complete that in June, 2022.
Donna Harris, BSci Accounting, MBA, founded Bookkeeping Made Simple with the understanding that small businesses is the heart of the American economy. After offering to do books for a friend who said he didn't have enough work to keep someone in the office 20 hours a week, she recognized the need for an efficient, online system. She has 20 years of bookkeeping and accounting experience and is excited to help small business owners achieve their goals. She enjoys spending time with her family and traveling whenever possible. She also loves reading, hiking, camping, cooking, yoga, and fitness. A huge believer in lifelong education, she is currently working on her master's in Accounting.