We all know the importance of communication, but it only works if you really work at communicating effectively.
When we think about communication, we usually think about verbal skills, but effective writing is also a vital element to a successful practice. Whether you are writing to patients, other professionals, or employees, you can improve your writing by incorporating the 7 C’s into your documents.
Anything you write should be:
1. Clear. Write clearly so you can’t be misunderstood. Unclear writing causes mistakes, irritation, confusion, and ultimately wastes time and money. To be clear:
“¢ Don’t use jargon, including chiropractic terms for people who don’t understand them.
“¢ Use the right word. Take the time to check your words to be sure you’re using the correct word.
“¢ Avoid euphemisms that obscure meaning.
“¢ Avoid slang, acronyms (abbreviations formed from initial letters) and cliche phrases. For example, some people may not know what the acronyms RSVP or ASAP mean.
2. Correct. Make certain that your writing is free of mistakes, typographical errors, and incorrect sentences. Proofread carefully. One mistake in a business document can destroy your credibility as a communicator.
3. Complete. Include all the information that is needed to explain a point. Don’t assume that your reader knows what you are talking about. Use “who, what, where, why, when, and how” as guidelines for completeness.
4. Concise. If you are certain you have answered the question, stop. Avoid redundant expressions (advance planning, for example), legalisms (such as “the aforementioned” and “herewith”), and meaningless phrases (such as “in the event that” instead of “if”).
5. Concrete. Use specific words, including numbers, dates, and names. Instead of saying “I need the information at your earliest convenience,” state, “I need this contract signed by January 30.”
Note that when you use concrete phrases, you also eliminate meaningless phrases (such as “at your earliest convenience”). Avoid words like “good,” “best,” and “poor.”
6. Courteous. Use “please” and “thank you.” Remember the golden rule: The customer is always right. Don’t argue with anyone. Consider your practice image as the “hidden” message in every written communication.
7. Conversational. Write as if you were talking with a business associate (not a good friend). Say “you” instead of “I” or “we,” and don’t begin a sentence with “I.”
Remember that even if you are writing to many people, each person will be reading your document individually. Avoid legal terminology and adjust your writing level to the level of the person.
If you let these seven principles guide your business writing, you will find that you have better relationships with patients, vendors, and other professionals, and you’ll see a positive effect on the “goodwill” toward your practice.
- For tips on writing to patients, see “Say ‘thank you’ for success” at studentdc.com/saythankyou.
- For help communicating with colleagues and other professionals, check out “Connecting and networking” at studentdc.com/connectingandnetworking.