A Plea for Proper Grammar

July 30, 2012  |  Posted by in Uncategorized
 

“In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence.” Kyle Wiens

At Carew International we put a lot of emphasis on listening… for better understanding and ultimately better value contribution to customers. Periodically, though, it is prudent to assess and, if necessary, upgrade the quality of our outbound communications. After all, there is no stronger representation of our credibility than the quality and accuracy of our written communication.

In a recent blog on Harvard Business Review Blog Network, Kyle Wiens made a strong and eloquent case for proper grammar. I particularly subscribe to his assertion about the increased importance of grammar in this age in which online communication often replaces face-to-face interaction. The excerpt below captures Wiens’ finest points:

…But grammar is relevant for all companies. Yes, language is constantly changing, but that doesn’t make grammar unimportant. Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And, for better or worse, people judge you if you can’t tell the difference between their, there, and they’re.

Good grammar makes good business sense — and not just when it comes to hiring writers. Writing isn’t in the official job description of most people in our office. Still, we give our grammar test to everybody, including our salespeople, our operations staff, and our programmers.

On the face of it, my zero tolerance approach to grammar errors might seem a little unfair. After all, grammar has nothing to do with job performance, or creativity, or intelligence, right?
Wrong. If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use “it’s,” then that’s not a learning curve I’m comfortable with. So, even in this hyper-competitive market, I will pass on a great programmer who cannot write.

Grammar signifies more than just a person’s ability to remember high school English. I’ve found that people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing — like stocking shelves or labeling parts.

…And just like good writing and good grammar, when it comes to programming, the devil’s in the details. In fact, when it comes to my whole business, details are everything.
I hire people who care about those details. Applicants who don’t think writing is important are likely to think lots of other (important) things also aren’t important… Kyle Wiens, HBR Blog Network, July 20, 2012

Read Wiens’ entire blog here.

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