Humans are social creatures. Technology erodes the barrier of physical distance and enables us to constantly talk to each other. Lots of that communication happens through writing, and it’s now normal to send and deal with an onslaught of messages every day.
All of this writing brings us closer together.
Connecting with someone else may just sound like a nice bonus on top of getting your point across. But getting your point across is only one aspect of communication to consider.
Think of important messages you’ve sent recently, especially those where you may have been particularly worried about sticking the landing. Did your message affect the way someone else perceived or treated you? Did it influence how you relate to that person?
Writing shapes relationships, and, by extension, your ability to achieve your goals. Let’s take a look at some examples.
Leave a positive first impression
Maybe you’re struggling to find the perfect opener to woo a cutie on a dating app. Maybe you’re cold-emailing a sales prospect with a massive quota breathing down your neck. Maybe you’re miserable at work and desperately cranking out job applications.
Although these may be difficult messages to send, they’re all opportunities to create a positive first impression and lay the foundation of a strong relationship.
Think about the last time a stranger impressed you through their writing. What excited you about the prospect of dating someone with a witty one-liner? What about that initial outreach made the product seem worth learning more about? How did that job candidate grab your attention?
The message you received was likely clear and easy to understand, but it was also probably something more. Great writing relies on our ability to relate to other people.
Relating to others can be tricky—we’ve all goofed up before and sent messages we thought were fine, but turned out to be awkward, inappropriate, or just not what the other person was hoping for. Although rejection can sting, it’s also a helpful clue that your message didn’t resonate.
Conversely, a strong first message can create intrigue, build common ground, and develop a shared sense of understanding—all critical elements of a strong connection. A positive first impression establishes the relationship and sets the tone for whatever comes next.
Develop and maintain lasting relationships
All of us need to maintain our personal and working relationships. Maybe you make it a point to regularly text a friend going through a rough time just to check in. Maybe you document your progress at work to share with your manager. Maybe you’ve shared a coming out letter with your friends. Maybe you leave your partner little notes on the fridge so they know how much you love them. Maybe you instant message jokes to your coworkers to make your office a bit warmer and friendlier.
Connecting with others means not only building new relationships, but also strengthening those you already have. This happens slowly, over time. Relationships don’t maintain themselves, and using your words is a powerful way to show the care you have for those around you. It also goes a long way toward making us—and those in our lives—feel heard and understood.
Close chapters gracefully
Beyond just wanting to be considerate to others, there are many reasons to end relationships tactfully. You can never be certain of when your paths might cross again or how your situation might change.
That’s why when you’re finally ready to quit your miserable job, it’s best to avoid a resignation letter laden with expletives. That’s why even a breakup text is always better than ghosting someone. That’s why rejection emails shouldn’t be needlessly cruel.
These moments may not feel like connections, but the words you choose—especially words that carry a particular weight—leave a lasting impression. People remember how you made them feel.
Although people are social creatures, no one is a mind reader (yet). So the next time you text, email, or just write to someone, consider how the words you choose are helping you connect with them.