Some people may wonder why I am such a stickler for proper grammar. In the Internet age, many users assume that if their message is being understood, then it’s not really necessary to use perfect English. That may be understandable when you are engaging in a casual IM conversation with a friend, but it is not as acceptable in the public arena of a blog or in the context of a business.
You may have encountered some of my Grammar 101 posts in the past and you may remember the Twitter-Up Your Grammar Skills Contest that I’ve been holding these past few days. Well, one of the first lessons that I learned from Booher’s Rules of Business Grammar wasn’t how to fix common English errors; it was why grammar is so important in the first place.
Symptom of Other Problems
You see the chipped coffee mug above? In the grand scheme of things, that small chip isn’t going to ruin your meal, but it may tarnish your view of the restaurant. If they have no trouble giving you a chipped mug, it’s possible that they are just as careless with ingredient selection, food preparation, and so on. It has been demonstrated that when people receive poor service from a flight attendant, they extrapolate that the engineers may not be properly maintaining the aircraft either. This same kind of inductive reasoning can take place with your grammar as well.
If there are errors with less and fewer in your professional correspondence, your business contacts may think less of your ability to perform other tasks as well. If you’re so careless as to use incorrect plural forms, you may also have sloppy quality assurance practices, poorly built products, and unacceptable customer relations.
Professionalism and Respect
Further to this previous point, it is difficult to fully respect a high-ranking business official if their grammar isn’t up to par. It can demonstrate a lack of education and a lack of prestige. You need to respect yourself first, but if you want to succeed, you also need to command the respect of others. Unless you are exceptional in some way, you won’t receive that kind of respect if all of your correspondence is riddled with errors. Your reputation is at stake.
Professional business correspondence (including press releases) needs to be impeccable, but you should also take a similar level of care to your blogging. Just because the book is called Booher’s Rules of Business Grammar doesn’t mean that the rules only apply to the realm of business.
Speak Well, Write Well
Far be it for me to say that I have perfect grammar — I have received my share of negative feedback in the past — but I am constantly working to improve my writing ability. Choose your words carefully and work on your unique voice, but be mindful of those little nagging grammar problems too. It may start as a small chip on a coffee mug, but that small chip can tarnish the image of everything else.