Business Writing And Ethics
Often, writing is preceded by an event. It could occur after a meeting, after a research or after a class session (Miller, 2007 pp 134-149). It involves reconstructing the process that took place. For example, reconstructing a class research process. There are different types of writing. The style that a writer will pick will be determined by several factors. This includes the purpose, the subject to be covered and the opinion of the writer towards the subject (Davidson, 2008). For example, the writing style for a class essay is different from that of a business report. Each style calls for different skills and language to be used depending on the target audience and other factors. The different types of writing include the following. There are those that are basically narrative in nature, others try to persuade the audience. Others are analytical, descriptive or comparative. A student might choose to pick an analytical style of writing to analyze the facts he collected on the topic he was researching on.
Business writing is different from other types on several grounds. Usually, it does not include the personal opinions of the writer. Rather, it describes the out come of the process concerned in detail (Hogan, 2005). It omits the description of the process, the events that were encountered during the process. A student who is writing a research paper will tend to expound on the way he went about this research and perhaps the difficulties he encountered. Compare this with writing on a business decision. The details of the lobbying that preceded the decision are often omitted. On the contrary, it is brief and concise. This paper will attempt to look at the importance of good writing, aspects of good writing and the types of business writing.
The second part of this paper will cover the topic of business ethics. This is the application of ethics to this field. Ethics are applied to many fields in the life of a human. When applied to the field of business, it covers issues like how people conduct themselves and how they should do what they are doing. It also covers how businesses conduct themselves.
Aspects of Good Business Writing
At some point in ones life, a need will arise that calls for the writing of some kind of a business correspondence. This may include when a college student is applying for an internship in a certain firm or for an admission to a college program. The way he will write this correspondence will greatly vary from the way he will write an e-mail addressed to a friend or how he will write to his parents. And not a student alone, but every person will at one point be required to write a business oriented correspondence. It is very important then for every person to be acquainted with how to write a good business correspondence (Hogan, 2005). The following then are some of the aspects of good writing, especially in business.
Brief and Concise
The writer should strive for this as much as possible. But still all the relevant details should be covered in an understandable way (Miller, 2005). One should not try to create an impression to the audience. He should then keep away from technical jargon or slang. Complex words must be avoided. A student cannot write to his head of department using the slang he uses with his friends. The important thing is to always having the targeted audience in mind when writing. Failure to do this will make the writer appear not to be serious. Another danger is that during the decoding of the message, some meaning will be lost to the reader. This is because the reader may not share in the writer’s type of language (Davidson, 2008). Avoid lengthy sentences. This will retain the audience’s attention. It is also a good way of mitigating cases of misinterpretation of the message. The writer should also avoid the use of humor or intimate language. A student cannot write to the lecturer telling him how he was well dressed in class while the main point of the letter was to explain why he missed class.
The writer should strive to be as organized as possible (Hogan, 2005). He should stick to the topic or issue in hand. A brief outline before embarking on writing will help. This will maintain the flow in the writing and cohesion (Davidson, 2008). The introduction part should contain the theme of what is been written about. The body should contain all the main points. This should be supported by evidence familiar with audience. The conclusion should contain a request for a reply. A request for an action may be included depending on the goal of the correspondence. A student applying for an internship may request the reader to reply or consider his application. However, the tone used should be conversational. This will help in engaging the audience in the thinking process of the writer (Miller, 2007).
This is very important before sending the correspondence. An accountant compiling the annual financial report should check for any errors that he may have overlooked when writing the report. A supervisor sending a memo to his subordinates should ensure that all the details he wanted passed along are there and nothing can be misinterpreted. A college student should ensure that his letter of application contains all the relevant details required by the potential employer. Miller, (2007) says that it will help to revisit the written article after sometime. The writer will look at it with new eyes. Errors previously missed will be noted. This will increase the credibility of the communicator.
Importance of Good Writing
Many people do not think it is important to possess good writing skills. This has been a head ache to many business executives. They are always complaining on the way their staff has neglected this skill (Miller, 2007). These skills are important to all people. Be it a business executive, a student or a promoter of a company’s product.
The writing helps to glean some important aspects of the writer (Davidson, 2008). It is the only means that the reader can evaluate the writer. If for example a letter has a lot of grammatical errors, the lecturer will take the student to be a very careless person. A potential employer will be in doubt about the educational level of the job applicant.
If the writer possesses poor writing skills, the message may be lost to the reader (Davidson, 2008). He may be confused. The communication might be misconstrued. If the language was intimate, the recipient may become angry. A student may anger his lecturer by complementing on her dress code when writing a letter to her. The problem is that the opinions of the recipient will be long lasting. This will impact negatively on the prospects of the writer. The student might miss that important scholarship due to grammatical errors on his letter. The worker might miss that promotion due to a poorly worded e-mail to the boss. Jobseekers should have an excellent level of communicating. The employer will look at how the applicant has expressed herself and base the fate of the applicant on that alone.
Embarrassments can emanate from poorly written documents (Hogan, 2005). The e-mail can be printed and filed, the letter forwarded to another person. This is because written communication can be recorded. The letter written in a foul language by a student to the lecturer can be forwarded to the head of department. This will embarrass the author very much. Repercussions like been expelled, been demoted or fired are probable.
People are more conscious about ethical issues now than ever before. This is especially so in the market place (Hartman, 2002). This is what is called ethicism. Business organizations are under pressure now to be more ethical than they were sometime back. This is because sometimes, unethical practices are a threat to the whole society. The gains are only short lived, while the negative effects are long-lasting and far reaching.
Every facet of the business world has to adhere to a laid down set of ethics in their day to day operations (Solomon, 2004). For example, the human resource department, the accounting department and the social responsibility department. All have their stipulated set of ethics they have to observe. Let us look at some of the ethical issues that the modern day business enterprise has to observe. We will look at how the situation is now and the ideal situation, how it should be.
Ethics in Accounting
Malachowski (2001), says that the accounting department is prone to many unethical practices that may not be obvious to the layman. This includes doctoring the account books. This is where financial state of the business is manipulated to serve a certain goal. The company may be made to show that it is making profit while in reality it is operating on a loss or the stated profit is exaggerated. This may be aimed at misleading the shareholders that the company is on track. Another aim may be to maintain the trust of the financiers or business partners (Hartman, 2002). The account books may also be altered to show that the company is operating at a loss or at a lower profit. The aim of this may be to evade paying tax (Malachowski, 2001). Other unethical practices may be bribing. Others include paying the companies top staff in excess. A case in point is how bank executives in America have been offered huge bonuses while the institutions are making a lot of losses.
Unethically Using Intellectual Property
A business should not engage itself in the practice of poaching staff from their competitors (Solomon, 2004). These staff has a deep knowledge of the operations of their former employers and this will be used by the poacher to drive the competitor out of the market. Many businesses engage in another practice of hoarding all the top talent in a certain profession (Malachowski, 2001). Ignoring the fact that these people are also needed elsewhere. This will keep them on the front in the competition. John Hopkins hospital has been accused of retaining majority of the most talented doctors in their facility. A business may also use their patented products to make huge profits (Solomon, 2004). The drug companies sell their patented drugs at very high prices and make huge profits before the expiry of the patent. Business espionage is also another form of unethical practice. A business steals the technology of the competitor to give it an edge.
This is perhaps one of the most unethical departments of all. The products of the company should not be harmful to the consumers and the environment (Solomon, 2004). The products should not be defective. Others are harmful for human consumption, like the tobacco. The business should not pollute the environment through dumping of waste products. For example, dumping medical refuse in residential areas. The business should test its new products in an ethical manner (Malachowski, 2002). Nuclear products should be tested away from human beings. It is unethical to use humans as guinea pigs without them consenting. Also, animals have to be treated ethically when testing new products like drugs.
Human Resource Department
Ethics should be applied in all employer-employee relationships. An employee should not be discriminated on grounds of physical attributes or race (Hartman, 2002). Some businesses have been known to refuse recruiting the physically disabled. Others have terminated their staffs who were HIV positive. The employee should respect the privacy of his boss. He should not sell information to competitors. Employees should be free to join workers union. The working conditions should be humane.
It is clear that writing skills are very important. They help in the career advancement of an individual. Many think that with the advent of technological advances like phones and fax, writing has been obsolete. But it is an every day phenomenon. Businesses should take their staff to refresher courses on good writing skills. Business ethics has continued to hinder the operation of many businesses. Entrepreneurs should realize that they are operating with humans and the environment. Every action should take this into consideration. Penalties should be made harsh for those who flout the codes of conduct.
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Davidson,K., (2008). The dos and don’ts of business writing. St. Martin’s Press. Alaska.
Hartman,W., (2002). Ethics of business: a critique. McGraw-Hill. Arizona.
Hogan,D., (2005). Best practices in business writing. GlenFalls. New Jersey.
Marlachowski,Q., (2001). Looking at business ethics in a different perspective. Taylor and Francis. Washington. D. C.
Miller,M., (2007). What counts in business writing? Danfort Books. Massachussets.
Solomon,H., (2004). Running a business ethically. Thomson and Wadsworth. Nebraska.