In my newish job, it is clear to me and others that I am struggling with written communications (emails, instant messages, issue tracking tickets etc.). Issues include:

  • excessive length and detail,
  • missing the point if I respond quickly,
  • long delay before I respond if I try to respond well.

I don't think I'm doing too badly in general: I am now on a permanent contract which was offered to me eight weeks into my initial three-month contract. It just seems that the written comms are one of my clearest weaknesses.

I'm preparing a SMART objective to address this, and I'm looking for a way to measure my progress in improving my comms. Otherwise I will never know if my comms are improving or not. Here are a few things which come to my mind:

  1. Setup a survey monkey/MS Office form re-questing feed-back about my comms skills. Put a link to it in my email signature, gently asking people to take a minute to provide their feedback.
  2. Find a single-click feedback tracking service, where I can just generate two links to put it my email signature: "Click here if this was a good email", "Click here if this was a poor email", people will just click them and the tracking service will count the clicks?

Has my idea been used before with any success? Or would it just be a weird thing to do? How can I get more feedback? I moved from a small company to one ~50 times bigger and I find it awkward to ask directly: everyone's really busy, I deal with a lot of people and don't really have many "close, regular contacts" etc.

(If it matters, there is a good chance that I am fatigued, slightly depressed, overly pessimistic and undecided and whatever else but I'm probably unable to fix these soon.)

  • 7
    Your two ideas would be met with derision in all the workplaces I've worked. Dec 22, 2021 at 1:54
  • Instead of all the things you mentioned, just imagine you are on frontline and had to give report to your commander under heavy artillery fire ;) Practice Laconic speech ;)
    – rs.29
    Dec 22, 2021 at 8:59
  • 2
    If you want good feedback, get it privately from your professional friends outside of your workplace (assuming you don't share anything proprietary or important, it should be fine). Also, don't say "comms", say "communications" (unless it's an abbreviation that everyone else uses at your workplace, but even then, it may only be an internal abbreviation to the company, and outsiders may consider it weird.) Dec 22, 2021 at 11:29
  • Do you mean they are missing the point or you are missing the point if you respond to quickly? Dec 23, 2021 at 13:56
  • @DavidLindon the latter. I've had several situations where I try to provide a short and quick response, and I generally soon turned out that I didn't research my response or think it through. But come to think of it, these could be separate two issues (not doing the research & thinking is one thing, writing my response badly is another). Thanks everyone for comments and responses so far.
    – pateksan
    Dec 24, 2021 at 10:14

2 Answers 2


You don't say what you have already tried, so I will point out some things who may be obvious to you. Try to be very conscious about your communication. Think before you write, even if it takes a little longer. If you are unsure about something, ask.

  • When writing something, first take a minute and consider the audience. Who are you writing to? What does that individual expect from you? What level of detail? If unknown, err on the side of "general", not detail.
  • Then write your e-mail/message. Maybe include a question if the level of detail was OK.
  • When done, proofread. Now look at redundant sentences, filler words, unneeded fluff. Trim down. I can eliminate more than half of the message most of the time.
  • Advanced: Some information is ill fitted for mail or messenger. If so, don't hesitate do change channel. Drop by the desk of your colleague, call or schedule a meeting.

If you still get the impression that your communication is sub-par, get someone to give feedback. Best works the colleague or manager you communicate the most with. Ask that person if he can give you honest feedback. That feedback is best delivered in person. Sit down in a quiet place and listen. I wouldn't bother with questionnaires or surveys, they are annoying at best and no one will do them if not asked specifically.

And hey, cheer up. Just the fact that you know that your communication can be improved makes you better than most others. Much too often you have to work with colleagues who can't communicate to save their lives and are blissfully unaware.


Firstly, I would find it socially awkward and professionally weird to be asked to rate or give feedback on someone's written communications through a generic form.

Secondly, consider that this may not be about writing style so much as context-appropriate responses. Conventions around communication can be quite specific to an organization. Some orgs want everything written down in detail. Some are highly verbal. It also varies across a large organization. Perhaps some parts of this business are very time-sensitive, and greatly value concise, timely, highly relevant information - perhaps more than correct punctuation. Some types of support are like this. Other parts of the business, or clientele, may demand a lot of technical detail and careful thought before response. Legal and regulatory facing departments are often like this.

If this is the case, you might be better off making a personal map of the organization and its work styles, rather than polishing your writing as such.

Thirdly, I think it's a laudable goal to improve your written communication, and tie it to your objectives. This is especially important in large workplaces, multi-site workplaces, and where you or colleagues are remote. It is the sort of skill that people often miss over the short term but which can pay off nicely in the longer term.

Though people in general will find a feedback form weird, people who write well tend to care about other people's writing, too, and be more willing to give some editorial feedback. I suggest thinking about who at work strikes you as communicating well in writing. Pick two people and ask them if you can sometimes ask their opinion about things you write at work. This might be prospective (important email with some time for drafting) or retrospective (chat message). A frequency of perhaps once every two weeks should be fine for a while. I'd avoid going outside the organization myself, especially if you are in a more sensitive industry.

If you consider your new boss a good writer, they are an excellent candidate for this. They know about your objective, should be talking to you regularly in one-to-ones, and have an interest in your professional growth and success. There is also no concern about project confidentiality.

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