The latest research suggests that business people are struggling to communicate or express themselves properly. This breakdown is not due to office politics, or a lack of group hugs, but rather their inability to clearly put into words what it is they want to say. To overcome this they need to learn how to KISS better. They need to know how to 'Keep it Short and Simple.'
A research study by 'Emphasis', a business writing consultancy, has suggested that many employees now struggle to write in a manner which people can understand. The 'inability or reluctance to use plain English', and enthusiasm for the thesaurus, is creating masses of incomprehensible business documents.
Emphasis CEO, Robert Ashton, commented:
"A major issue is the popular misconception that long words and elaborate sentences are a sign of superior intellect or professionalism, but people are inundated with documents to read … people do not want to have to translate complicated words and phrases; they just want to get to the point. "
Trying to sound clever and using corporate claptrap and marketing mush achieves little more than confuse your reader, or give the impression that you have something to hide. People have had enough ambiguous language and sales spiel.
Adopting the KISS methodology should not just be about swapping long words for shorter ones, but also about applying transparency and honesty to the way that you communicate. This means throwing 'hit the ground running', 'solutions' and 'excellence' in the cliché sin bin.
The problem in the UK is that the literacy problem is more serious than merely shelving your marketing phrase book. Many believe we are actually heading into a writing skills crisis.
A CBI report on workplace skill levels found that:
"In fact every organization contacted, senior managers reported that many employees find it difficult or impossible to produce written work."
Businesses are now being forced to run remedial classes and rely on templates for correspondence, not trusting their staff to be able to write an adequate letter on their own.
Even our future dynamics from the universities are being criticized in another new report. 'Writing Matters' by a team of professional writers has attacked students for not being able to write decent English, 'follow a logical train of thought or present a reasoned argument.' It would appear that the lack of traditional grammar teaching in schools is starting to impact the competency of our work.
Writing to a good standard is not just about communicating clearly, but about demonstrating your own aptitude and that you actually have something to say. There can be nothing less appealing than an incomprehensible newsletter filled with punctuation errors. Prospects will simply unsubscribe and regard your company on the whole as being incompetent.
Business people might need to learn how to KISS to improve their writing, but it would appear that future generations have a lot more to learn as well.