grammarDeath by Language may not be written on any coroner’s report but it is a silent killer. It murders professional image and cripples business opportunities. It influences decisions. It raises eyebrows and questions whether a businessperson can be taken seriously. It seeds doubt about how another may represent your interests in a business project. The language disease often starts out innocent enough-a few slang words here, a typo there, and a misused word thrown in for good measure. Isn’t it ubercool to be hip with ROFL and smileys, a ‘then’ instead of ‘than,’ a curse word thrown in for emphasis, and it’s all followed up with ‘my bad’ to make everything all right? In the blink of an eye this style (social conversation, if you will) suddenly snowballs and is rolling down the mountain slope at break neck speed. Some say it’s fed by the increase in social media and the requirement to shorten up thoughts. To get to the point lightning fast-by any means necessary. Others suggest it’s been ions since high school grammar class and that part of the brain is rusted tighter than a docked ship’s anchor. While the signs are blinding to others, the one with the infliction is oblivious. The offender commonly has wonderment to why the phone isn’t ringing, why the quote isn’t accepted, why correspondence is being ignored, and why business is stagnant. Rarely is someone bold enough to explain “You’re dying a slow death because of . . . your written language. There’s too much slang and, well, your typos and grammar could use some work. There’s concern that your colleague interactions will not be perceived as professional enough.” Allowing fingers to tickle the pages of a grammar reference book (or getting in the habit of rinsing documents through grammar-check before hanging them out to dry and hitting the Send button) is a must-follow prescription. Followed by, radically pulling typos into the spotlight with a quick cut and paste extraction to the spell-check software. And lastly, just like Pavlov’s dog, tame and retrain excessive slang to make appearances only in social settings and among friends–clearing the pathway for professionalism to shine through in business interactions. Most importantly, know your reader. Ask yourself: What does the reader expect? Does my language match the style needed for the image I want or need to project and the level of professionalism required here? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s true, the rate of spreadability is on the rise but with some preventive tactics the survival rate will skyrocket. It’s not necessary to be a victim of the silent killer any longer.

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