-- By Dr. Louis E. Buck
During a career in business that spanned more than twenty-five years, I repeatedly observed the importance of employing effective communication skills to achieve both personal and organizational goals. Many times the impact of a presentation or written message was lost on the target audience when they became distracted by a lack of precision in the delivery. Too many times I found myself in the position of having to explain to technically sound employees that they would not be promoted because they did not possess the necessary oral communication or writing skills.
In order to be assured of success when they leave Western Carolina University, it is not enough for today’s graduates to be technically proficient in accounting, communication disorders, computer information systems, construction management, criminal justice, engineering, finance, recreation therapy, speech pathology, or any other discipline. Whether you take a position in an office, in a clinical setting, in manufacturing, in sales, or elsewhere, you will be required to communicate in writing with subordinates, peers, your seniors in the organization, and individuals outside the organization. To ensure that your audience receives the intended message, your thoughts must be well organized and presented in a logical sequence; otherwise, the importance of your message will often be lost on your target audience. An audience will focus less on the message if distracted by misspellings and poor grammar.
The improper use of e-mail is a common problem. Communicating via e-mail is so easy that we often fail to pay careful attention to the words we choose or the sentences we structure, much less proofread what we have written. A hastily drafted e-mail leaves a bad impression. You know what you meant to say, but your reader only can see the words in the message and may well not understand the context in which you wrote them.
A potential lender, supervisor, customer, or business partner will pay attention to how you communicate because it often indicates how well or how poorly you will fulfill your obligations later in the relationship. Fortunately, you have access to a tremendous resource to help you learn these necessary skills—the Writing and Learning Commons. It is never too late to develop necessary communication skills; many corporate executives have taken the time to get assistance to improve these skills so they are prepared to take the next step upward in their careers. We all need to improve our communications skills, so now is the time to start!
Writing in Specific Disciplines
Several Western Carolina faculty members have created guidelines for writing in specific disciplines, and this information may help you as you compose. Visit the links at left to learn more.