Spelling, Grammar and Usage Can Make You a Success

Dynamic communication skills are one of the keys to personal and professional success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success.  If you want to become a dynamic communicator, you need to master three basic but very important skills: 1) Conversation; 2) Writing, and 3) Presenting.

Last week I was at a luncheon hosted by Meeting Professionals International.  The talk at my table turned to usage, spelling and grammar.  I’m always intrigued to hear what other people have to say about this subject.  I’m a big believer in using the proper word for a given situation.  Several people at the table mentioned that they don’t think usage is as important as it once was.  Their logic was that texting and twitter have reduced the need for correct spelling usage.  (u no wht I mn, dontcha?)

I disagree.  I think that when twittering you have to stick to the 140 characters twitter allows you.  I also know that shortcuts make it a lot easier to text.  However, when you’re writing an email, letter, or report, I believe that proper usage and spelling are important.

I find two big problems with usage, spelling and grammar.  First, there are some tricky words, its and it’s or your and you’re, for example.  Dynamic communicators know the difference between these words.  “Its” is a tricky word that doesn’t follow generally accepted usage.  “Its” is the possessive of “it.”  Most possessives include an apostrophe.  However, “it’s” is a contraction that means “it is.”  Fortunately, when it comes to digital written communication, you use online software to run a grammar check to identify and fix these issues.

Here’s an example.  “I really love my mountain bike.  It’s set up perfectly for me to ride both on and off road.  Its three chain rings allow me to always find the right gear.”  In this case the word “it’s” at the beginning of the second sentence means “it is set up…”  The word “its” at the beginning of the third sentence means “the bike’s three chain rings…”

Your and you’re sound the same, but have very different meanings.  “Your” is the possessive of you; your bike, your car etc.  “You’re” is a contraction that means “you are.”  Few people substitute “you’re” for “your.”  Lots of people incorrectly use “your” when they should use “you’re.”

Your (not you’re) head may be spinning after reading the previous three paragraphs.  You might be saying, “Bud, you’re getting way too esoteric here.  Who cares?”

As it turns out, plenty of people care.  Not everyone, but plenty.

And you never know when the person who is reading what you write is someone who cares.

That’s why I think that proper usage, spelling and grammar are important if you want to distinguish yourself as a dynamic communicator.

The common sense point here is clear.  Successful people are dynamic communicators.  Dynamic communicators are good conversationalists, writers and presenters.  If you want to be a good communicator – especially a good writer – you need to pay attention to usage, spelling and grammar.  Pay particular attention to tricky words like “your” and “you’re” and “its” and “its.”  Avoid falling into a Twittering or texting mindset when you write.  You’ll communicate better.  More important, the people who read what you write will recognize your positive communication skills.

That’s my take on proper usage, spelling and grammar and dynamic communication.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts. As always “thnx 4 rdng.” 🙂


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