Now that the last vestiges of the first 2016 presidential debate have left Hofstra, it’s time to turn from politics to one of my favorite topics–punctuation and grammar.
Reading students’ anonymous evaluations this week on my teaching revealed observations about how “strict” I am regarding their writing. They generally seemed grateful for my approach; one student even wrote, “I needed it.”
I often tell the story about how I lost a valuable client when a colleague misspelled the CEO’s name in a draft of a press release. “One of the easiest ways to discount your business’ credibility is to fall victim to spelling errors and poor grammar,” wrote marketing professional Carly Stec. “If your content is plagued by poor grammar, it’s likely that people will think twice about the quality of your products or services.”
The same goes for one’s professional reputation. John Boitnott of Entrepreneur recently wrote, “While it may not seem like a major concern, making even the smallest of mistakes when composing written messages can have a major impact on our careers, since poor writing skills can give colleagues and customers the impression that we’re not really educated or skilled enough to do our jobs properly.”
iFixit CEO Kyle Weins also takes grammar seriously. In his article, “I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why,” he said, “My zero tolerance approach to grammar errors might seem a little unfair. After all, grammar has nothing to do with job performance, or creativity, or intelligence, right?” He added, “I’ve found that people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing…I hire people who care about those details. Applicants who don’t think writing is important are likely to think lots of other things also aren’t important.” Weins gives a grammar test to every job applicant.
Yes, I can be aggressive when it comes to punctuation and grammar, but I hope my public relations students understand when I correct their writing, it’s just tough love. After all, I’m only concerned about their future success. Your thoughts?
(photo above from Brightside)