Social Distancing Is Changing the Way We Write. That’s a problem.

According to a 2015 study, children with mild communication disorders, even a single speech-related error, are more likely to have limited social interactions than their peers discover that the reverse can also be true: limited social interaction affects our ability to communicate.

It’s not intentional, but it happens.

And this raises important questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic is changing our ability to connect through the written word.

Spatial distance and point of view

Any creator who respects content understands the value of speaking directly to the reader. In the agency world, our clients rely on us to write content that connects brands and audiences. But when our writing seems barren and distant, we fail.

One of the best ways to connect is to use the second-person point of view. In the second person, we use pronouns like “you” and “you” – language that engages the reader on a personal level and contextualizes the content based on the reader’s circumstances. We’ve instilled the second-person concept with our editors from day one at the agency, and they’re generally obsessed with working on it in their content.

Make connections

With this in mind, you can combat the effects of social alienation and make connections in your communication and writing:

  • Keep an eye on your team’s pulse. I’ve worked with many writers in my career, enough to know that writers’ thoughts and emotions often leak into the content they create. As a leader, you need to know how your team is feeling and observe who is fighting over a lack of social interaction. The problems these team members face are likely to affect their writing skills and interpersonal communication.
  • Humanize the voice and tone of your brand. More than ever it is important to speak as a person. Your tone doesn’t have to be watery (please don’t), but it should bring a little more empathy and understanding than it did a few months ago. Today’s audiences crave human engagement, and if your brand delivers that, they will remember you for months or even years.
  • Be deliberate with the language. Words are important. They always have. But now that we rely even more on written, visual and audio content, words are money. These are the tools we depend on to bridge spatial gaps and build relationships. Whether you’re writing an article for the company blog or emailing a family member, choose your words carefully and look for opportunities to interact with the language.

Soon (fingers crossed) we will leave our homes and return to spaces filled with face-to-face and physical interactions. The world will be different, but they need to make connections through writing and other forms of communication remain the same.

By understanding the value of language and paying more attention to the words we use, we can improve our long-term ability to connect with audiences and acquaintances.