Inappropriate Use of Quotations and Other ‘Pacific’ Problems

OK, I admit it.  I am a bit of a snob when it comes to grammar, especially in the workplace.  I mean, come on folks…. it’s English.  If you are going to speak it at least do it properly.  I am also extending my snobbery to the written word.  Email is NOT a casual conversation, people.  It is a written form of business communication.  While working for The Company, I ran across some of the most horrific violations you could possibly make while still, in fact, speaking English.  At some level, I expect this.  However, when you are a high ranking official, you really ought to step it up a notch.  Let me clarify…

Our fearless [cough] leaders at The Company were always coming up with new ways to torture the management staff, and in turn, my department of Organization Development gurus.  Since very few people actually understood our role in the organization (including our own boss), we were often strapped with really random, lame projects.  One of these projects was to have the management staff take a random leadership book-of-the-moment and break it down to see how we could incorporate these tactics into our daily lives.  The problem with this tactic is that the book-of-the-moment changed rapidly with the other book never getting a second glance.  But, I digress… Anyway, during this particularly horrid session, we were breaking down the 8 Rules of Leadership (see Winning by Jack Welch) and thus were broken into 8 “teams,” (and I use that term VERY loosely, and mostly sarcastically).  Each team was tasked with explaining their rule and finding a way to market it to the rest of the organization.  After a particularly dreadful team meeting, someone in my group ended up clucking like a chicken.  Folks, these are the leaders of tomorrow.  Be afraid.  After the management meeting ended and we all trudged back to our desks we found an email waiting from one of the managers.  This is what it said:  “Everyone did a great job on their projects.  We sure have a very ‘talented’ group here at [The Company].”  I was floored.  “Talented?”  Was that sarcasm?  It couldn’t have been.  She had the personality of a wet mop, and the management skills to match!  No, that was just a sheer lack of understanding that quotations are not to be used to make a word stand out in a sentence.  Seriously.  Use bold or even underline.  I get that.  Quotations like that just make you look like either a smartass, or in her case… a complete dumbass.

We had another perplexing email from said manager that went a little something like this:  Please submit your time sheets to “me”.  So… not to you?  I am confused.

Then we have the scary things that people actually say.  Sometimes, it isn’t so much about your grammar as it is choosing the wrong word…. over and over again.  There are many “pacific” problems that come to mind…  I once had a lady calling to join a focus group who told me, “I would love to precipitate in your meeting.”  Really?  Would you?  Please don’t rain on my meeting.  This was a Senior Director.  I wish I was making that up. 

The bottom line is this… People are judging you based on your communication skills, or lack thereof.  If they don’t clearly understand what you are saying, you have no influence.  Simple is best.  I hear people every day trying to appear smart by using big words.  But the problem is twofold… One, if you don’t know what the word actually means, you look like a tool.  Two, if they don’t know what the word means, you have lost them as a listener.  You will never make yourself look smart if you make others feel dumb.  You will also never look smart if you are, in fact, dumb.  Go with the lowest common denominator and keep your communications simple and clear.  You will have greater influence and people will enjoy talking to you.


3 Responses to “Inappropriate Use of Quotations and Other ‘Pacific’ Problems”

  1. fancylori Says:

    Someone was clucking like a chicken!! Bahahahaha!! And I thought there was nothing funnier than inappropriate placement of quotations. Boy, I guess I was wrong!!!

    I love the part about ‘Pacific’ and ‘precipitating’ in a meeting.

    Laughing is good for the soul, sister. Thank you for that!

  2. The one that irks me is “irregardless”. Uh, that’s not even a word. Or should I say that’s not even a “word”?

  3. ‘talented’…..I’m cracking up. Is there a question that it might not be a true statement?

    love your blog!

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