Writing Without Bullshit: Boost Your Career by Saying What You Mean
September 27, 2016
Josh Bernoff provides a user's guide to using the written word clearly and effectively in business.
The ability to communicate is the foundation of all business. And, because we increasingly connect to our coworkers, colleagues, and customers through keyboards and devices more often than we do in-person or over the phone, our writing skills are our first line of communication, sometimes our only line.
Our work lives have become, in part, an exercise in reading comprehension and writing ability. Yet, the realities of the modern workplace, filled as it is with busy people and business jargon, not to mention the tendency to use couched language to avoid confrontation or cover one's ass, hinder clear and effective communication. Our attempts to sound smart and sophisticated come at the cost candor and clarity. Our consideration of the political implications of what we're writing clashes with the act of clearly communicating the information we have to convey.
Josh Bernoff, in his new book, Writing Without Bullshit, identifies and tackles this problem:
Unfortunately, each small step toward expediency erodes your own sense of integrity. You are no longer saying what you mean. That takes a moral toll on you even as it wastes your readers time.
That waste is even worse than it appears because we're all reading nearly all the time now. We're continually consuming massive amounts of this indifferent prose, and we're doing so on glass screens that don't make reading easy. We're surrounded by distractions.
That's why the world seems to be so full of bullshit—because we're drowning in text that was slapped together without a focus on meaning and directness.
It's incumbent on us all to stem the tide. And Bernoff, in Writing Without Bullshit, is going to help us do just that. He will teach you how to use your time clarifying rather than obfuscating, in honing rather than hiding behind our words. It is not necessarily easy. It will require courage and confidence and skill to say exactly what you mean—without the crutch of corporate jargon—and, at first, it will take some time to edit out all the extraneous words you're using that don't add anything to that meaning. But, Bernoff tells us, this is imperative.
This principle powers everything else in this book. I call it the Iron Imperative:
Treat the reader's time as more valuable than your own.
Rather than using our time loading up our communications with qualifying words and the latest catchphrases, we can use it to edit our communications down, to distill our message, to be more bold and direct, and save people time. Those you're communicating with will be able to understand you more clearly and quickly, and your writing will stand out because of it. You will stand out because of it. People will notice and appreciate you not wasting their time, and they'll respect you for your boldness and integrity, for saying what you mean and only what you mean.
Bernoff gets into the nitty gritty details of how to do this in different forms of everyday business writing—in email, on social media, in reports and press releases—but he'll also help you challenge the culture of bullshit in business. And, hopefully, that will catch on in your company and help stem the tide of bullshit that is overwhelming all of us at work everyday.
We have 20 copies available.