“What Do You Mean I Can’t Write?”

Good communication skills lead to promotions, awarded grants, job offers, and successful persuasion.

A person trying to climb an actual "corporate ladder"
Photo used courtesy of the HBR

Writing, of course, is a vital aspect of communication. When was the last time you read a piece of well-punctuated, engaging writing that didn’t impress you? Admit it: Good writing can make you believe even the most verbally inarticulate person has a thing or two knocking around upstairs.

According to the Harvard Business Review,

… everyone should make sure that he does not become satisfied with the rather trivial act of mastering punctuation and grammar.

It is true, of course, that, in some instances, the inability to write correctly will cause a lack of clarity. We can all think of examples where a misplaced comma has caused serious confusion—although such instances, except in contracts and other legal documents, are fortunately rather rare.

A far more important aspect of correctness is “coherence.” Coherence means the proper positioning of elements within a piece of writing so that it can be read clearly and sensibly. Take one example:

  • Incoherent: “I think it will rain. However, no clouds are showing yet. Therefore, I will take my umbrella.”
  • Coherent: “Although no clouds are showing, I think it will rain. Therefore, I will take my umbrella.”

Once a person has mastered the art of placing related words and sentences as close as possible to each other, he will be amazed at how smooth his formerly awkward writing becomes. But that is just the beginning. He will still have to make sure that he has placed paragraphs which are related in thought next to one another, so that the ideas presented do not have to leapfrog over any intervening digressions.

Go here to read the article in its entirety. And tune in tomorrow to test how coherently you write. Remember: Some of us are here to help you improve your writing.

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