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  • Writer's pictureEllen Gardner

Create pathways for change

What if you’re a convert to the religion of clear writing but your boss is not? You see the notes and memos they’re sending to clients and cringe at all the jargon and clunky language. You’ve suggested editing for clarity but they stand firm, this is the way I write and I’m not prepared to change.

How do you convince them that their language is a barrier to building client trust?

First, accept the fact that you may not win the big battle for writing transformation; but that doesn’t mean there can’t be small victories along the way. We often underestimate the deep resistance people have to change and so patience and empathy are needed when suggesting improvements.

Here are some ideas on how to start them on the path of change:

• Help them understand that writing in a person-centred way is a time-saver. When they avoid complex terms, clients will not ignore their instructions or need to come back for a deeper explanation.

• Start small – take one relatively low-impact document and edit it for clarity – show them how much easier it is to read and understand than their usual documents.

• Get other people in the organization involved in your efforts to simplify writing. With colleagues and team leadership on your side, you can start the process of creating plain writing guidelines.

Take a bow for the small steps – like using simpler phrases or creating shorter paragraphs. At some point, they might start to realize that writing in plain language is one of the best ways to serve their clients.

Have a great day.


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