How to Build Goodwill in Writing

A positive, confident voice can build goodwill with readers.
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Whether you're writing an opinion piece or a memo, building goodwill is a matter of using a positive tone to establish a sense of community with your audience. Careful word choice and ultimate sincerity, as well as an encouraging attitude, can help you construct a message that not only persuades, but shows your readers that you have their best interests at heart.

1 Construct an Encouraging Attitude

A positive tone can create an inviting atmosphere that makes readers more likely to consider your message. Choose words that promote community, helpfulness and cheerfulness to establish a constructive relationship with your readers. For example, "We can't have the bake sale unless people volunteer to help out" promotes a negative attitude through the conditional words "can't" and "unless." A better way to communicate this need would be, "Your donations of time and effort will help make the bake sale a success." This option encourages cooperation from employees or organization members rather than presenting them with an order.

2 Focus on the Reader

Readers often have something to gain or lose from the message you're sending, so putting the focus on their needs rather than yours can demonstrate a genuine concern for the audience. Try to emphasize the pronoun "you" over the use of "I" or "we" whenever possible, especially when beginning sentences. For example, "We need everyone to complete the appropriate paperwork so paychecks can be mailed" could be changed to "So that you may receive your paycheck promptly, please complete the attached forms at your earliest convenience." This option caters to readers' needs by emphasizing the benefit of receiving the paycheck quickly.

3 Use Sentence Emphasis

Sentence structure can work in conjunction with good word choice and a positive tone to draw readers' attention to specific ideas. Try emphasizing the most important thoughts in your message by distinguishing them with shorter sentences. In an opinion piece or editorial about animal abuse, for example, you might use a forceful, brief statement like, "Animal abuse can no longer be tolerated." You can then follow up the sentence with details, such as evidence of the abuse's consequences and a plan for solving the problem. To give your main idea the greatest emphasis, try placing it at the beginning of a paragraph rather than burying it in the middle.

4 Write with Confidence

Confident writing can build goodwill with readers by establishing you as a trustworthy authority. Be assertive in stating the strengths of your position without apologizing for its weaknesses. If you're writing a cover letter for an application to grad school, for example, don't downplay your accomplishments by saying, "While my GRE scores aren't as high as I'd like them to be, I received numerous academic honors from my college." By contrast, don't appear overly confident or arrogant by saying, "You will surely agree that my numerous academic honors qualify me for admission." A better way to achieve a confident tone would be, "My numerous academic honors illustrate my commitment to education in this field."

Kori Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2006. She taught creative writing and composition at West Virginia University and the University of Akron and her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals.