Being Literate Means Being Able To Write, Not Just Read

by Randy Murray on July 10, 2013

It is a national shame that here in the United States we do not have 100% literacy. Even those we pass through the U.S. K-12 education system often have very limited abilities to read and communicate. Those limits become life barriers: barriers to jobs, income, social status, and the future of their children and generations to follow.

From my perspective being literate isn’t just being able to read. Reading skills are critical, but they are not the whole of literacy. Being able to clearly communicate in writing is also essential.

For over 25 years I worked inside businesses, often very large organizations. My clients now include businesses and organizations with thousands of employees and hundreds of locations. I grew to be able to predict who would rise and succeed in their careers based on one thing: could they write well. These employees were not necessarily literary geniuses. I can’t think of one of these business people who would call themselves a “writer,” but their skills at basic written communication helped them to do the job and to succeed. Yes, I’ve also seen executives and managers who could barely write. They got there by other means. For the rest, the ability to speak and write well could mean the difference between success and being stuck.

I also saw the opposite: those who could not communicate clearly fell behind. Their confusing, incomplete written communications led to problems in projects and contracts. Their lack of ability AND caring to communicate well limited their success and the success of the organization. And many of these people had college degrees.

Writing clearly, writing well, is an essential skill. Organizations that recognizes this can put training and standards in place to require clear written communications.

If you cannot express yourself clearly, in writing, you are nearly as limited as those who cannot read. A little work on writing skills can make a significant difference in your future.

I know this is preaching to the choir. If you’re reading this it’s likely that you care about writing. But do you care about writing in all forms, including that dashed-off email, that text message, that functional specification? Clarity and completeness in writing matters.

Become fully literate. Read and write and require these same things from those you work with. If your organization is struggling with its internal communications, contact me to talk about strategic communications consulting services.

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  • Being Literate Means Being Able To Write, Not Just Read | dcook4real August 16, 2015

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