Nobody likes a grammar snob. It’s exhausting to come under the watchful eye of someone who likes to jump at every opportunity to say, “Well, actually…” before correcting your writing. And if my experience as a naïve English student taught me anything, it’s equally exhausting to be that grammar snob. It’s an endless uphill battle to be the person trying to keep everyone around you communicating “correctly,” especially in the business world. I gave up on that a long time ago and I’m much better off.

That said…

It’s remarkable how much of an impact just a little bit of effort in brushing up on your basic writing skills can have. Becoming a clearer and more confident writer can make the difference between a meaningful connection and someone skipping right over what you have to say because they’re too hung up on how you said it.

Because in today’s business world, everybody is a writer. I’m not just talking about things like copywriting or blogging or posting social media updates. You can hire professionals to do things like that for you. But in those moments when any given professional has to write an email to a customer, or whip together a proposal, or put together slides for a presentation, there’s no outsourcing to be had.

In those moments when you can’t help but write something, here are a few reasons why you should actually embrace your inner grammar snob:

  1. Clarity in writing is crucial for quick communication.

When you have to write an email or a report for your boss, it’s probably the last thing you want to be doing with your time. There’s a reason we all struggle so much with responding to emails in a timely manner, or even reading lengthy office memos and reports and RFPs. That means you have an opportunity to make sure your emails—regardless of how short or long they might be—are quickly absorbed. Proper grammar exists to help make sure readers understand a writer’s meaning, and good punctuation makes it quicker for reader and writer to move on.

  1. If someone can’t understand your meaning, you may lose their attention.

On that topic, it’s important to understand how crucial things like commas and proper word choice are in making sure your reader understands exactly what it is you have to say. I can’t tell you how often I’ve received emails from people that are just one long, comma-free, period-free, run-on sentence. It’s mentally exhausting to have to read emails like that one word at a time to understand what the writer actually meant to say. You’d better believe that if someone has to exert a lot of time or energy in deciphering your bad writing, that’s time and energy they won’t be spending doing whatever it is you’re asking them to do in the first place.

  1. If your team is misrepresenting your ideas with bad writing, it reflects poorly on you.

Bad writing in business is even more difficult to accept when it isn’t yours. Leaders and members of work teams will spend a lot of time working on something together; maybe it’s an approach to an RFP, or a pitch for a new client, or an HR policy for the whole company. When somebody leaves that meeting with the responsibility to communicate that work to other people, you shouldn’t have to worry that bad grammar will result in your prospects or employees misunderstanding your intent. Instead of just the writer, the whole team ends up in a tight spot.

Resources to Improve Your Writing (And Your Team’s!)

If by now you’re thinking a writing refresher course might be just what the doctor ordered, there are plenty of accessible resources to help you and your team:

  • Tools like Grammarly, while no replacement for experience, can introduce an extra level of help to refine your writing as you work.
  • Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab offers a wide variety of specific writing resources for anything from writing white papers to business letters.
  • Depending on your specific needs, look to local Indianapolis organizations for some hands-on training. The Indiana Writers Center offers more creatively-focused public workshops, and my own team at Metonymy Media offers on-demand, customized workshops on topics like basic grammar, brand storytelling, and blog writing.

Remember: All good writers know that writing is a process. It takes time and practice to improve, but the benefits of clear, impactful communication for any business are well worth the effort.

Ryan Brock is the Founder & CEO of Metonymy Media, an agency of creative writers that helps businesses and organizations grow by creating content that is consistent, accurate and compelling.

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