Effective writing in the workplace | Inquirer Business
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Effective writing in the workplace

/ 03:22 AM January 25, 2016

EFFECTIVE writing is an essential skill in the workplace. But many managers still complain about their subordinates’ subpar grammar and poor writing skills. Businesses believe that additional training is required to enable employees to communicate clearly and concisely.

Ruel S. De Vera is an author and editor of various books and writes for the Philippine Daily Inquirer. He was previously awarded by the Carlos Palanca Awards for Literature, Catholic Mass Media Awards and Philippines Free Press Literary Awards. He currently teaches at the Ateneo de Manila University Department of Communication.

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We asked Ruel some questions on how to write effectively in the workplace. Here are his thoughts:

Q: There is a member of my team who works well but struggles with basic grammar, such as tenses and prepositions. What would be the best way to help him improve his writing?

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A: When it comes to writing—especially for writing that is for work—direct and detailed feedback is important. The first thing to do is to point out the areas that require improvement, like pointing out specific paragraphs or sentences and providing the correct or better way of doing things. Writers learn through doing. The colleagues you are mentoring need to keep writing until they get those specific things right.

The second thing to do is provide examples for your colleagues to read. The more they are exposed to the kind of writing you want them to achieve, the better they will get.

Q: What are some common mistakes that most of your students (or new colleagues in the workplace) make?

A: The most common mistakes at work involve three things: 1) prepositions, which are really hard to get right in the first place; 2) English idioms and expressions, as people tend to use expressions they like even if they are not sure about how to use them; and 3) overwriting, as people tend to write in a redundant or repetitive manner when they are trying to impress bosses instead of trying to express themselves properly.

Q: Are there any tips or tricks to avoid these common mistakes? What can one do to improve his or her writing ability?

A: The best way to write properly is really to be careful with what you write and be clear. Brevity and clarity are crucial. The best way is to provide feedback for writing exercises. The only way to do it is to write and then talk about what you’ve done. Repeat until you get the writing you want. One should also encourage developing writers to read and write as much as they can.

Q: Our target market is the millennial generation. They are supposed to respond more to visual stimuli. How can we get them to care more about “good” writing?

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A: Regardless of the generation they belong to, aspiring writers need to be exposed to what you consider “good” writing. For millennials, trainers need to provide examples of current topics that the writers can identify with. If they see more “good” work that speaks to them, then they will aspire to achieve the same level of excellence and relevance.

Q: Can great writing be learned, or do you have to be born with the talent?

A: Talent is only part of the requirement. You have to work hard to become a good writer and nothing works as well as exercise. It doesn’t matter how talented you are if you don’t write. Being productive and good are the true signs of a really good writer.

Ruel S. De Vera will facilitate a workshop titled “Effective Writing 1: The Basics Reviewed” on February 11-12, 2016. It will be held at the Inquirer Academy Building, Chino Roces Avenue corner Ponte Street, Makati City.

The workshop is brought to you by Inquirer Academy. For details about the workshop, you may write to [email protected] or call (632) 834-1557. Look for Astrud de Castro. You can also register at www.inquireracademy.com.

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