Oh, workplace writing. Some people love it, and some people hate it. But, in one manner or another, nearly everyone must write and communicate.
I’m sure we all have colleagues, peers, employees, or friends who dread writing. I’ll admit that I sometimes feel the existential despair of the blinking cursor — and I love writing. Our inner critics chime in, we fall into soul-crushing despair, and we’ll find ANYTHING to do other than write.
If you’ve noticed a general malaise hovering over work-related writing projects, take a step back and examine your workplace culture. When employees approach writing with fear or anxiety, their work often becomes watered down, vague, or apathetic. Consider building an environment and culture at your workplace that fosters empathy for teammates and their writing.
Here are a few suggestions to help you remove negative workplace-writing stigmas and begin to foster a communications culture rooted in empathy.
Tip 1: Share drafts.
We all need another set of eyes sometimes. A trusted editor can help you identify roadblocks in your writing, as well as help you talk through your intent. Asking for feedback shows you take writing seriously and value others’ opinions. A draft review also will help normalize the editing process and start open and honest conversations about writing.
When people feel encouraged and safe to talk about their writing drafts, they’ll begin to form essential empathetic tools: listening and sharing. They’ll also more objectively see what’s working or not in their communications — and start revising with their audiences’ needs in mind, not their own (a key empathy trait). Further, you open channels for honesty and communication — and help employees strengthen bonds through a shared process.
Tip 2: Create a suggested reading list.
If you’re a team leader, share a suggested reading list with your teammates to encourage community and idea sharing. You can choose a variety of books, including industry standard’s, new releases, and your favorite novels.
Why create a reading list?
Not only does reading about new ideas keep your colleagues learning, sacrificing 15 minutes a week to this task will help your team open up and learn from each other. You’ll share reflections and ask other’s opinions in order to understand one another’s perspectives — an essential part of empathy.
This shared experience will also provide a specific and intentional reference point to help create a common language across your team. Establishing these deeper connections can help your team empathize with each other and pull together to complete tasks. And, because reading boosts brain power and relieves stress, it should also sharpen attention to detail and writing skills, helping to inspire confidence in your team.
Tip 3: Bring in a writing coach.
When you provide your team with new opportunities for growth, you show them that you care about their professional well-being. And outside writing instruction can help folks brush up on basic writing skills in a shared, stress-free environment.
Inviting a writing coach to spend an afternoon with you and your colleagues will help introduce tools and processes that unite your employees behind a shared goal. You also give people a chance to step back and consider their jobs and writing tasks from different angles. These new perspectives can help teams solve pesky problems, generate new communication strategies, and make future writing conversations easier.
Ultimately, how your business communicates internally and externally will affect its performance. Dispel fear and anxiety by building a culture of empathy around workplace writing. Ask your team to share their writing, read more, and express their thoughts and opinions — you’ll begin to see clear and thoughtful work fueled by empathy.
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