Did you know you can set up your day to have a quick opportunity to improve yourself? One of the nicest things about the internet is the opportunity to learn, and improving your language is going to make a difference in your career.
Here’s why language is important: the things you write online stay there. The impression you make with your speech and writing doesn’t fade too fast, either. If you are consistently using language the way that “everybody” uses language online, then you are automatically closing the street to opportunity.
Learn A Little Every Day
I like Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips because they are funny, memorable, and short. You may prefer another source, and there are certainly plenty out there. I also use the Gregg’s Reference Manual. It’s the bible for grammar geeks. What you need is a regular reminder of common mistakes and how to avoid those mistakes that you will enjoy reading. I’m always surprised at the things I learn. Something new every day!
That small, daily dose of language skills is a regular reminder of the importance of language. It might not seem like much, but the proper use of language moves you past barriers that keep your career from flourishing. It might be true that a top executive dictates letters to a secretary instead of writing them personally, but it’s also true that the executive still has to use language competently.
Learning a little every day is part of being a leader. Looking for life-long learning opportunities keeps your brain active and your attitude flexible for the challenges of being an influence both today and in the future. If your language skills are inadequate, you may have the greatest ideas in the world, but you can’t communicate those ideas very well.
Adding something like a daily grammar feature takes less than five minutes to read and enables a lifetime of opportunity.
When it comes to grammar and spelling mistakes, there are usually two kinds of people: those who see it and those who don’t. If you are a member of the latter group, it is kind of like being colorblind. You know there is a difference when it is pointed out to you, but it really doesn’t stick out enough to notice. Unlike being colorblind, though, there are things you can do about improving your grammar and spelling. It really is a skill you need to work on because it will affect you all through your career. The reason you need to work on writing accurately is because the first group of people (yes, I admit, I am one of those anal retentive types), are the ones who see grammar and spelling mistakes– and can’t help seeing them. They know, because they are told, that grammar and spelling don’t matter to many, but it matters to them. Because it matters to them, it affects the way they view a “professional” who makes a lot of grammar and spelling mistakes — they see an “unprofessional” who doesn’t care about details and may not do a good job. All the advice on how to avoid mistakes when writing your resume and cover letters applies to your business writing, too. Even executive resume writers make mistakes, but when writing things that affect their job they carefully do their best to correct mistakes by proofreading and using tools like spellcheck. The tools are limited, so the human has to pay attention or the wrong (correctly spelled) word could be used. All the writing you do for your workplace should be proofread because it becomes a permanent record reflecting your abilities to communicate as well as the actual information in the material. Whenever I hear someone say that spelling doesn’t matter, I think of Dan Quayle and potato. In 1992, Mr. Quayle was the Vice President of the United States, doing the best job he could. He was a guest helper at a spelling bee, using a flash card with “potatoe” on it, and corrected a student’s spelling of “potato” by suggesting it needed the “e” at the end. It would be easy to Google this incident, and you would see what that little mistake did to his political career because it gave his critics an excuse to dismiss his abilities. Now, Mr. Quayle was not in a position to be proofreading right then. But you usually can be careful with the writing you do for business purposes. You can start to work on your grammar and spelling skills, too, by checking things that don’t look right. There are many helpful (and free) online lessons to take advantage of. If you know you are one of those who don’t “see” the mistakes, assume you are making some and do what you can to correct it. One of the most common spelling errors I see is “manger” for “manager”. I probably notice this the most because I used to make it all the time! Manger is an actual word so it was never corrected by spell check. Luckily, Microsoft Word has tools you can use and adjust to catch your most commonly misspelled words. Spelling matters, so make sure to have a second set of eyes on your work!