By Wempy Dyocta Koto (reprinted from Under30CEO).
Words change the world.
They inspire, unite, direct, empower and prompt action.
They also discourage, divide, anger, misguide, confuse and mislead.
Empires, governments, businesses, relationships and careers rise and fall because of words.
Study President Obama’s inaugural speech, John Lennon’s Imagine, Shakespeare’s King Lear, The Oprah Winfrey Show’s 25 years of broadcast, Forrest Gump’s sweet assessment of life and Pliny The Younger’s love letters to Calpurnia and you will realize the power of words.
In faith and belief, billions and generations of people have centered their lives on words within Judaism’s Tanakh, Christianity’s Bible, Islam’s Qur’an, the Hindu Sruti, Buddhism’s Theravada and more recently, Scientology’s Dianetics.
Words change the world.
As young CEOs and aspiring entrepreneurs, think very carefully about the words filling the borders of your emails, documents, instant messages and social media profiles.
Never, ever, underestimate the professional and personal impact of the words you write and send into the ether. Businesses rise and plunge, with written communications evidenced everyday in the world’s courts of law in cases against entrepreneurs, CEOs, leaders and colleagues for abuse, defamation, breach of contract, incompetence, misdirection, unfair dismissal, harassment and unlawful business engagement.
As email is the dominant communication tool for entrepreneurs today, here are thirty suggestions to protect and power your enterprise with words that inspire, drive business, loyalty and return on written investment.
1. Approach every email with the motivation of selling, optimizing or approving an idea, product, service, direction or recommendation. As an entrepreneur with major time, revenue and organizational demands, the opportunity cost is high when communication is not borne from this motivation.
2. Before writing, assess if your objective is more efficiently achieved with a meeting, call, office or workstation visit.
3. Your parents, grandparents, guardians and teachers taught you manners. Please use them.
4. Address the email recipient by her or his name. This also applies to cold sales prospects that you do not have a direct relationship with. She or he is not known to colleagues as a ‘Sir/Madam’ or ‘Whom It May Concern’. Research their name and designation and you are more likely to receive a response and better still, a positive one.
5. ‘Hi’, ‘Good morning’ and the like are acceptable ways of starting an email. A less traditional approach is the way forward and if the recipient is based in another country such as Thailand, use a warm ‘Sawasdee Krub’ and thankful ‘Khob Khun Krub’. Case study, glocal HSBC.
6. If you don’t have a direct relationship with the recipient, state how you are connected or where you acquired their email address, for example through a mutual contact, database, LinkedIn or web-research.
7. Be honest, write with integrity, recommend responsibly and sell your proposition factually.
8. Keep sentences and paragraphs short and to-the-point
9. Avoid unnecessary upper cases, exclamation marks, repeated use of symbols, emoticons and chat abbreviations.
10. Minimize corporate jargon, acronyms and big words.
11. Always use the spelling and grammar check tools.
12. Clearly explain instructions, use simple words and delete words which may be open to misinterpretation.
13. Reply logically, sequentially and thoroughly.
14. Numbering and bullet-pointing are effective.
15. Remove all negative emotions. If a subject matter is contentious, write or respond professionally with facts, void of emotion.