Words used well have the power to inspire others, to change opinions, and – among other items – to win over an audience. Being well spoken portrays one as intelligent, confident and competent.
Whether in a job interview, on a date or simply having a friendly discussion, using proper words with the appropriate meanings at applicable moments boosts an individual’s status in the eyes of others.
On the flip side of that coin, words spoken using improper pronunciation or uttered without context, can have the reverse impact: the audience – whether it be professional or social – may no longer hold the offending individual in the same esteem.
The latter situation recently occurred with an acquaintance of mine during a relatively benign discussion regarding politics and social media (which is another column altogether). They were espousing the so-called good deeds a certain despot posing as a president based on a social media post they saw.
I attempted to explain how one can’t believe everything they read online and that even mainstream media has its biases. Then this phrase was uttered, “well, of course not, what do you think I am, a incompoop?”
“A incompoop. You think I’m stupid, a incompoop?”
Well, I didn’t before, but now I kind of do. The stunning mispronunciation on more than one occasion of the word Nincompoop left me stunned and even triumphed over the improper use of ‘a’ instead of ‘an’ before a vowel.
I haven’t had a meaningful discussion with this person since the incident – mainly because I no longer hold said individual in the same intellectual esteem I once did.
I was willing to overlook their political views because in many cases it’s based on emotion, not rational thought. However, the simple mispronunciation of a common word and poor grammar use at the same time was too much to endure.
I have since recalled many other word and grammar crimes which commonly occur today in language, text, social media and emails. These transgressions are often noticed and ridiculed by colleagues, friends and potential clients.
Perhaps the most common and egregious error is the use of the non-word ‘irregardless’ in place of the actual word ‘regardless.’ When hearing it used, it makes my skin crawl a little; upon reading in in a text, email or social media post, I need to take about 100 deep breaths not to begin typing an essay about how that’s not a real word.
In every situation, it takes tremendous self control to stop me from letting the offending party know they are ‘a bloody idiot.’
Employers are watching
Thankfully, there are people out there who explain this point with slightly more tact than I could. Whether the offending individual takes it as constructive criticism and adjusts their ways is up to them. However, it would benefit them tremendously to correct their ways.
I know several business owners who will perform a cursory inspection of a potential employee’s online activity to determine if they are the right fit for their company: if you’re openly disparaging people of other races, religions or sexes, it’s a potentially disastrous situation for your employer.
A potential employer’s search is not limited to these topics. Should they notice a habit of typing misused words, improper grammar or obvious spelling errors with no attempt at correction, they could decide to take a pass on you. The thought process is simple: those who are strong in their personal communications will be just as strong professionally.
Text messages and emails are no exception. Be clear, concise and check it twice before sending it out. I’ve been forwarded plenty of emails from a variety of sources for the express purpose of ridiculing someone whose grammar or spelling was lacking.
Don’t miss out on love
Proper grammar and spelling can also be attractive to a person you want to attract.
One lady friend of mine was interested in a guy and began an online dialogue with him. Everything was going fine and they were planning to go on a coffee date. Then the following exchange of texts occurred.
Lady friend: “How’s Friday at 3 p.m.?”
Guy: “Great, I will meet you their. Your going to love this place.”
The lady friend then waited a few minutes hoping to see a corrective text with a little asterisk proceeding the correct spellings of ‘there’ and ‘you’re.’ Unfortunately for this poor chap, his lack of awareness became obvious.
Lady friend (really wanting to give him a chance): “The autocorrect on your phone must be acting up.”
Lady friend: “Not to be judgemental, but you used the wrong ‘their’ and ‘your’ … It should have been ‘there’ and ‘you’re.’”
Guy: “Oh. LOL. I never get those right. Irregardless, I’ll see you on Friday.”
Lady friend: “Oh no, Friday I can’t. I totally forgot I made plans with my sister. So sorry.”
Guy: “NP. How’s Saturday?”
Lady friend: “How about I just text you when I know I’m available and you don’t text me until then?”
Guy: “Uhm. Ok.”
And he never heard from her again. It’s a pity because she’s an awesome lady and quite attractive.
These are only a few examples of how the words you use and context in which they are applied can have an undesirable consequence in your personal and professional life.
So, moving forward, take my advice and don’t be a nincompoop, regardless of the situation.