Trauma of filling forms.

I love to write. It is a known fact. Even before I had the audacity to call myself a writer, I have thought on paper.  It really did not matter if were writing my thesis paper, a short story, blog post or even plain to do list. The scratch of pen on paper is my biggest source of happiness. In fact to me free writing is a form of meditation.

Is it a surprise when friends and family want me to write their notes, edit their work or better their resumes? Not really. But expecting me to fill immigration forms at the airport is assuming my writing is just a scribble. But surprise! Guess who ends up filling all the forms? From school to travel, admissions to immigration, I have become the official form filler.form-fillophobia-the

And I hate it. Don’t know what is it about those forms but I just hate the thought of filling them. Maybe its the small space where you have to write all your details. Maybe I don’t like writing my name, in full, about six times in three pages. Or maybe it is because I don’t like telling so many details.

The hate factor increases tenfold when it is an online form. It is time consuming, slow and many times the server is incompetent to keep up with the traffic. Between every sale cart and abandonment of sale in my life is an unfilled form!

You have autofill you say? Many sites have disabled this. Intensely frustrating it is when you never know how long and to how many pages the form filling will go. Playing a maze game with my credit card details is not something I appreciate. And the most important of  all, why do you need so many personal information? Many times I feel I’m filling out a dating or marriage bureau site for a purchase of something trivial.

The best part of this frustration is, I spend half an afternoon coughing up my personal history to anonymous website and in 3 days when the delivery comes, the guy has no idea what is my postal address and calls me up to verify.

That’s just another half hour talking a moron through the city traffic to my house.

I really must love writing if I am ready to put up with this every time.

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Write Right – Why business writing is important

“Clarity in business writing is not a luxury”

Sir Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group

We live in an ironical world. Google and Facebook prompts our thoughts, suggests and advices everything we do, funny faces and new language describe our deepest emotions, samples and templates stereotype our creativity in the name of ease. Yet it is with these tools of camouflaged self destruction that we want to be unique. Standout and express.

It will be a miracle to be even heard in this collage of messy readymade ideas.

This is the present day reality. We live in this information society where the online highway is so crowded and noisy it will take unusual amount of effort to be heard and even harder to convince.

Great communication that is clear and effective has never been more important than it is today. Good communication that holds the audience captive is not an intellectual abstraction. It is now a critical tool to economic success.

Why is business writing so important?

It does not matter whether you are an employee or entrepreneur, client or investor, you are what you communicate and much of this happens in writing. But the growing role of business writing is rarely mentioned as important much less strategic to success.

With the advent of technology – email, whats app and intranet, every person in the business workplace is a writer. As Seth Godin observed, today much of our writing goes unfiltered. There was a time when secretaries would edit and public relations would polish the managers work before written matter reaches the public’s eye. Today you press that tiny send button and many times proofread later. That sent message has already reflected not only your words but mostly your attitude and work methods as well.

It is not just the lack of a secretary that makes good business imperative. In the present day it is the price of opportunity. One that knocks on your door with a pen in hand. Great resumes get selected. Good language and clear speech is an important requirement in any interview. This is only the first push into the gate. Inside the business world especially today clear concise writing is necessary to get every idea and point across. Badly written proposals, dull presentations, grammatically incorrect reports and stereotyped emails that reek of inhuman technology will all contribute to undercut your personal growth.

“If you are a native English speaker and never learned the difference between it’s and its,” Grammarly CEO Brad Hoover writes in a recent Harvard Business Review blog, “especially given access to Google, an employer might wonder what else you’ve failed to learn that might be useful.”

The necessity to great business communication is not just to micromanage one’s career but also an essential skill of every business today. With the staggering amount of communications channels available businesses are now challenged with new ways to connect, persuade and market their ideas, establish expertise, satisfy customers and in many cases try to publicly solve customer issues, create communities and reach niche segments.

And if the Organization sports a writing deficit, then that goes public too. Moreover the working culture and leadership focus is shifting. Collaborative approaches, multi disciplinary targets, work from home, transnational transactions and global clients have opened up approaches that did not exist before.

All these has made writing in business a powerful tool, even a strategic one if you think about clear thoughts put across in a simple language to get positive results, faster.

This last point deserves more depth. While face to face conversations is great, writing, when done with care, warmth and positive words inflicts the same human touch on paper. The digital world can seem dehumanizing with unseen, unknown voices but there also exists great opportunities to personalize this medium, build trust,  motivate team and customers alike and to be heard in a unique voice.

Yet the digital world does not hold a captive audience easily. It is not the necessity of the reader to be captivated by what you say. That responsibility is solely on your shoulders. Hence words need to be chosen for its clarity and simplicity.

Studies show most employes find it difficult to go beyond the first screen of the message. Hence it is important to be able to write a successful message that delivers your points in the first 100 words.

If that can be done in the first 2-3 sentences then half the battle is done. Getting your message read is a challenge itself but for managers, investors, clients to actually act upon your ideas demands writing to transcend the clarity level to enter strategic.

These are some reasons why good business writing is a must today. What reasons can you think of? Please include in the comment.

Why Communications Matter

It is remarkably creepy to read a story written in 1953 and wanting to be the protagonist today, especially if the protagonist is a murderer.

I have just finished reading a deeply disturbing short story by Ray Bradbury – the murderer. Disturbing mainly because in spite of being an evangelist of modern communication, I so wanted to be the protagonist in the story who systematically “murders” the technological devices around him as he is fed up with its invasion into human lives.

The story perhaps has more relevance now than when it was originally written. Today we are bombarded with communications from all sides and angles and the noise has become a part of our lives, so much so that we have unconsciously learnt to tune them out.

Why communications matter? Not because it is a rare art or a difficult science, but because everyone is practicing it, shouting about it and knows how to tune out the noise.

And that is the major challenge for anyone looking into meaningfully communicate in today’s business world. How to get through the noise tuning out filter?

The process to understand this should be ground breaking, a 21st century innovation. Right? Sadly not so. Aristotle, the Greek philosopher had already documented his advice on the elements needed to influence audience in his book called Rhetoric.

So the practice of communication is commonplace, the strategies age old and yet its relevance, importance and popularity has never been so prominent.

Communication matters today as it is not enough to talk, write or shout. It is imperative that we break the noise, reach out to the people, connect with them and make them listen to our view point, satisfactorily. 10991240_1007791749234552_2539162811953590634_n

Effective communication breaks the barriers of mere information, persuasion and argumentation to delve deeper into the realms of self-identity, self-expression and image making a deeper connect with the audience based on trust and conviction.

Consistently ranked as a very important criteria in job selection, communication and its assessment begins much before entering the Organization itself.

Your resume is a written proof of your self-image. The interview shows up your thoughts, wit, intelligence, values and of course expectations. A clarity of thought, succinct language and fluent speech indicates developed communication skills.

So maybe now is the time to ask yourself – How proficient are you in your ability to devise and communicate strategy, write effectively, prepare and deliver oral presentations and participate in meetings and interviews? Can you analyze and synthesize enormous amounts of information to convey your message? How adept are you at interpersonal communication — can you establish the productive relationships with supervisors, customers, colleagues, and other stakeholders that are crucial to organizational success?

Listening is the most important and utmost neglected part of communication. A good listener alone can make a great communicator.

Persuasion is a specialized form of strategic communication. The success or failure of any business is often a matter of persuasion. Convincing a boss, customer, colleague, shareholder or whomever of the value of your idea, product, service, investment or a host of other things can determine whether or not your endeavour succeeds.

The fabric of corporate society is woven from the ongoing communication and exchange between people through interpersonal, informal, cultural,Corporate communications is in equal measure formal and informal. While the formal channels of communication need to be open, transparent and ethical, it is the informal channel often called the grapevine that is a fertile ground for all information and oftentimes the tension.

As an entrepreneur, manager, employee or businessman you need to know how to keep this balanced to ensure employees are happy.

So grab a book, pick a course, join a toastmasters club or get a mentor. Learn the art, succeed in life!