We have already looked at abbreviations in communications thanks to texting and instant messenger. The other side to this story is that of the abuse of the language itself. One could say young people today can’t say a sentence without using a four-letter word.
This idea that “Language is dead” is probably up there with the obituary of Romance: it’s not actually dead, we just chose not to use it.
For young people today, they grow up learning hundreds of SAT words they assume they will never use again. They spend months cramming these words and how to use them in a sentence into an already full brain space.
And in all that SAT prep, many would argue those sample sentences aren’t very good, they can’t possibly be something someone would say in real life…so why remember the words?
Enter in our best friend: Reality TV. Our days have been filled with shows where “beep-my-beeping-sorry-beep-can’t believe you-beep-beep-beep” is normal background noise. My mother used to tell us, “People don’t talk like that in real life.”
Actually, they do. It’s figuring out when it’s not appropriate that’s the trick.
So blending these to perceptions of language becomes thorny when in the work place. Chatting with peers about that f*&$@!%g awesome touchdown might be ok around the water cooler, but perhaps leave the expletive out when asking your boss if he saw the game.
When speaking with coworkers, apply the same rule of thumb as you would with Reality TV: You probably assume that a person with a four-letter-word-vocabulary is uneducated and unprofessional. You can bet your coworkers will assume the same of you for a similar behavior.
But wait, doesn’t being a smarty pants hurt your relationship with your peers? Not really.
It isn’t always necessary to break out the Thesaurus and use 15-letter words in daily conversation. Reading (newspapers, journals, books, blogs) will naturally increase your vocabulary, and coming up with “that” word will be easier than grasping into thin air.
You might also find that you will not need to jabber for five minutes trying to articulate something. Your point will be much more concise and people will be appreciative.
Consider modeling the language behaviors of your leaders. This might include not only the types of words they are using, but the topics they discuss as well. “How I Got Wasted Friday Night” is probably not the topic of Monday’s first discussion.
There is a warning when it comes to modeling, however. One of the big things to think about is when a boss –gasp!– cusses in front of you. Don’t always assume that just because your boss dropped the F-Bomb on you, that it’s bombs away in future conversations. You will always look more professional with a clean mouth. Think Orbit gum.
Finally, enunciation will always win. If everyone can understand the words you are speaking, you will also gain credibility. Mumbling only portrays that you are unsure (of the topic or yourself), and your audience may be confused or tune you out altogether.
So stand tall, take a deep breath, and speak your f*&$@!%g heart out!