Is writing a Maverick skill? I have recently seen a couple of thought-provoking comments and even polls come by on my LinkedIn feed.
Names and exact wording have been changed to protect the innocent, but the general theme is as follows:
Difficult to understand, poor writing reflects an inability to think clearly. Basically, if you struggle to express yourself clearly in writing, you are clearly dumb.
The second was related but different.
Language is a skill. Someone’s ability to speak YOUR language is no more than a reflection of their skill in that language, it is no indicator of their intelligence, personality or character.
Both posts interested me because, at their core, they revolve around bias and the cognitive dissonance that should result, but all too often does not.
The first thought about poor writing is all about confirmation bias … the idea that, because I can do something, everyone else should be able to do it as well and if they can’t, there is something wrong with that other person. But this is also part of an availability cascade. In other words, people who hold this attitude are often surrounded by others who have a strong writing skill set.
It doesn’t occur to them that it is in fact a SKILL that requires work, encouragement and correction to hone.
The second is a reaction to the fundamental misunderstanding of what language is and how it works in the world. Native speakers of any tongue who are not often exposed to second language speakers of their tongue, often conflate language skills with intelligence. The problem is that confirmation bias can sneak in the back door here and tell you that, just because someone has good language skills, they are super intelligent and can be trusted.
The common ground here is that we are talking about specific skills. Skills are the medium through which we express ourselves, be that in sport, work or general life. We do not label a baby that has yet to learn to speak stupid, so why do we assume an adult in their 2nd or 3rd language is?
It just doesn’t make any sense.
Language is just a system. It can be learned, manipulated and exploited. The Maverick realises this and focuses on the ability to express their ideas, instinctively understanding that people will be far more open to their ideas if they are clear and easy to understand or sound impressive.
While it’s true that grammar and spelling are not the most important skills in your business armoury, they are hugely effective skills. As a society, we are easily led by silver-tongued leaders whose sentences fall like sweet rain onto our parched brains.
But it’s just a trick, a specific skill that has been honed it does NOT mean that the thought behind is it especially refined, special or important.
But on the flip side, if your ideas and thoughts are special and important, you really need to be thinking about improving your language and writing skills.
Which is why I developed an online course called Rock Your Writing. As part of my ongoing mission to change the world by activating creativity, I had realised that many, many people have great ideas but really struggle to bring them out into the world where they can make an impact and have influence.
Rock Your Writing is all about understanding the power of writing and how it works. It’s also racy, rock’n’roll and fun to do … because maybe, good, high-impact writing is a Maverick skill that we should all be aiming to acquire.
So, if you have ever been judged as wanting because of weak writing or language skills, check out the course, it will impact on your ability to influence others with your writing by making your writing process simpler and easier to do …