If you pay more attention to your work wardrobe than your punctuation, rethink your priorities. While dressing well is one way of presenting yourself as a professional, your grammar also sends a message to others. If you're constantly mixing up words and forgetting commas, it's time to brush up on grammar basics and learn to communicate effectively at work.
Good grammar makes it easier for people to understand each other. Good communication helps projects stay on course with fewer mistakes, misunderstandings and delays.
Many people find bad grammar annoying and even painful to read or hear. When you don't take time to choose your words carefully or constantly fail to punctuate properly, you show a lack of respect for your colleagues. Over time, this can lower their respect for you and can harm your career.
Using good grammar enhances your image as a professional. People are more likely to listen to what you have to say if you speak or write it correctly. Unfortunately, some people may interpret your bad grammar as an indicator of low intelligence or a lack of education. This undermines your credibility.
If you are concerned about bad grammar, help is available. Check out adult education and community college programs in your area for remedial English courses. In some cases, bad grammar may be a symptom of an undiagnosed learning disability. If you work for a company that has an employee assistance program (EAP), contact the service to ask about getting an assessment. If your employer doesn't offer an EAP, ask your doctor or insurance company for referrals to professionals who provide adult learning disability evaluations.
Don't be a grammar bully. Correcting people's grammatical errors is a big no-no. It's never appropriate to embarrass or humiliate a coworker or subordinate just because she confuses "it's" and "its". If you work in a supervisory role and notice that an employee routinely uses bad grammar in emails or in meetings, gently bring up the topic in private. You might want to look into educational resources, such as books and courses, before the meeting so that you can offer her some ideas for getting her grammar up to speed.
- Forbes: Your Bad Grammar at Work: What's the Problem?
- Harvard Business Review: I Won't Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here's Why.
- University of West Florida: Switching Gears
- Tools for Life Georgia: Writing Difficulties
- Psychology Today: Depression and Learning Disabilities: Putting the Pieces Together
Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.