Many of the people who take advantage of my editing services are concerned that their words might not be communicating the desired message. Sometimes what I find is that their message is simply unclear. Sometimes a poor choice of words changes the meaning altogether. And other times things fall into the grey area of “unintended meanings,” where some readers will see the intended message…and others will see something else altogether.
|DON'T LET UNINTENDED MEANINGS WRECK YOUR MESSAGE
“Huh?” I thought. “The National Academies are hosting an event officially dedicated to sexually harassing women? Is this some kind of bad joke?”
As it turned out, it was not a bad joke—it was a poorly written subject line. The email was an invitation to a lecture about actions leaders can take to prevent sexual harassment of women within their organizations. It was an anti-sexual harassment lecture, not a sexual harassment event!
Does your writing say what you think it says?
This subject line was a great reminder of one of the challenges with writing. You know what you’re trying to communicate, so you just assume that this is what your words actually are communicating. Sometimes, though, this is not the case at all.
How can you avoid miscommunications in your writing?
Because this type of issue cannot be caught by running things through a spelling or grammar check, noticing the problem can be tricky. My recommendations include:
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