When I was young, I learnt how to write in cursive, or “running writing” as we called it. I used this style of handwriting for years to follow.
Eventually, large amounts of writing became more and more important at school. When I sat exams, I thought my style of hand writing was readable, not like a lot of other peoples’, and therefore I would be fine.
But then, one day, I realised that this may not actually be the case. What if my handwriting wasn’t readable by someone marking my exam?
I realised that not all exam markers would take the time to understand what I had written. I realised that a typical exam marker probably wouldn’t be 100% focused, nor have the energy to spend deciphering what my handwriting said. I realised that, despite my best efforts in making my work itself solid, the presentation of that work mattered considerably. How could an exam marker give me marks if they didn’t understand a crucial word here or there? I would probably lose marks for not having presented what I meant in a way that the marker understood.
As a result, I changed from cursive to writing in block capital letters. It was odd to see essays written like this, and others commented on this, but I knew there was a 99.9% chance that my words would read as intended. I knew that I was avoiding a potential trap that others either hadn’t realised existed.
Recently, I have realised that an analogy can be drawn with my change of handwriting style and how we communicate in a broader sense. People often have good intentions in what they want to say, but it is often how they say what they say that largely contributes to the listener’s understanding, regardless of the original person’s intentions.
With interpersonal communication, there are also consequences for poor presentation. But rather than losing marks like in an exam, the consequences in real life are loss of influence, lost job opportunities and even losses in quality of relationships.
Are these things that you want for yourself? Just because you think you communicate clearly to others, how do you really know that they are receiving your messages as you intended them? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by learning how to communicate more effectively.
Learn to articulate yourself clearly and concisely. Learn to listen properly. Learn to be assertive. Change your style of communication so that the message received is what was intended.