Feb 23, 2009

How does functional illiteracy affects the effectiveness of e-mail?

Illiteracy is the condition of not being able to read or write. Even though, functional illiteracy refers to the inability of an individual to use properly reading, writing, and computational skills in everyday life situations.

One who is functionally illiterate has a basic grasp of literacy (reading and writing text in his/her native language), but with a variable degree of grammatical correctness and reading comprehension.

Since the computer and the Internet developed, some have asserted that the definition of literacy should include the ability to use and communicate in a diverse range of information technologies.

Illiteracy has long been viewed as a social and educational issue. But we have been challenged to understand the economic consequences of the lack of literacy skills. So, functional illiteracy has a significant impact on companies productivity.

A study done by the Northeast Midwest Institute and The Center for Regional Policy found that business losses, attribute to basic skill deficiencies, run into the hundreds of millions of dollars because of low productivity, errors and accidents.

How many times companies must face daily written endless debates through e-mail, because poorly written messages?

How many e-mails at workplace everyday are misunderstood because the message was poorly structured or for low levels of reading comprehension?

A research in a british company with 2.850 employees, show that 45% of e-mails were not easy to read or to interpret, by deficiencies of writing or because they were not clear on what the recipient had to do with them.

Does this percentage seem too high? I invite you to verify it with your own emails. I have seen this amount of messages deficiently written in many other businesses, larger and smaller.

The lack of abilities for written communication largely is a consequence of the lack of reading habits. Who has the habit to read thinks more and know himself better. This allows him to reflect on his reality and needs with more references. And this also lets him obtain enough resources to express himself by writing fullness.

We are facing an important quality reduction of written communication, and good part of the remedy has to do with stopping underestimating this situation.

We need to approach this subject at workplace promoting learning spaces where the employers and employees take conscience on the matter. They must assume the responsibility to improve their abilities to communicate better in writing.

If you would like to improve your e-mail efectiveness or to know more about this subject, consult my book at Google Books.

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