People’s personalities can change when they’re driving… and writing

29th July 2014

We’ve all seen impatient drivers beeping their horns at other drivers they feel are too slow.

If they weren’t in cars, this would be Faster Person A, standing behind Slower Person B, leaning into their ear and shouting ‘OOOI!’

It wouldn’t happen.

Or those drivers who rudely, dangerously cut people up.

That would be like a supermarket shopper jumping from queue to queue barging others out of the way, to get to the front more quickly.

It wouldn’t happen.

And it’s not just driving that changes personalities. Writing can too. I mean, when you’re talking to someone, have you ever said – actually said – phrases like:

  • I attach herewith
  • Please find enclosed
  • Prior to the commencement of
  • We were founded in 1922

It shouldn’t happen.

Here’s a simple, very useful technique to improve your writing: before sending it, read it out loud to yourself. If it sounds ‘normal’, send it. If it doesn’t, think “how would I say this if I was talking?” and edit it before sending.

And one final one: if you’ve written an email in a bad mood, absolutely definitely don’t send it until you’ve calmed down a bit. The email will last a lot longer than your temper!

Action point

Get a recent piece of written work – an email, document, report etc – and read it out loud. Does it sound as if it’s coming from you? Or some weird corporate thing? If it sounds like you, great. If not, you know what to do…

Want more Tuesday Tips?

Every week, Andy releases a Tuesday Tip via email and his website, let’s take you back to the archive of tips.

Back to Tuesdays Tips