7 Reasons Your Grammar Keeps You From Success
For most people, grammar is boring. The word itself even bores people.
It isn’t the coolest part of writing; not by a longshot. However, it’s still important. I like to think of grammar like going to the dentist; most people hate it: hate thinking about it, hate talking about it, and definitely, hate going, but it’s in your best interest to go.
I remember back in high school writing courses when many of my peers completely disregarded grammar. They didn’t believe it was important to learn proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling – especially with autocorrect in word processing programs. Similar to how a calculator does your simple calculations for you, they believed these digital fallbacks would save them.
Many of those peers later struggled in their college-level English courses, in writing resumes, and even in obtaining jobs. It took me a while to see the connection, but I realized just how much poor grammar can negatively affect your future. Obviously, it’s often not the only reason someone would be turned down for a job or the only thing keeping a student from succeeding in college courses, but it definitely doesn’t help.
Below are a few reasons our grammar negatively affects us, as well as pointers to be sure you keep your grammar from holding you back in life.
We Don’t Make the Effort
Grammar, writing, and syntax come much easier to some people than to others, but challenges should never be an excuse to brush off grammar. With modern-day technologies like spell check found in word processing programs, and search engines full of resources when you get stuck, it’s easier than ever to learn to write correctly.
Grammarly is an excellent program to check your grammar and spelling instantly. You can easily see where you’re incorrect and with a single click, you can correct your mistakes. Over time, you’ll learn from the corrections and in turn become a better writer, without too much effort. You can also see your stats every week, so if you’re a competitive person, you can improve yourself by striving to beat your stats from the prior week.
Obviously, you don’t want to rely too heavily on any tool no matter how robust, because you won’t always have it available to you. The end goal with a resource is that you’d learn from it in such a way that you no longer need it. Using a digital tool as a reminder works much more successfully than as the only means of catching your errors.
We Don’t Follow Basic Grammar Rules
Some grammar rules are easier to spot than others. Blatant misspellings and obvious typos usually throw a red flag for nearly everyone. Likewise, misused homonyms and contractions can put a huge red mark on any piece you’ve written.
The post Grammar Rules You Should Never Ignore gives a long list of grammar rules you should always try your best to follow. They are some of the most noticeable errors, so take the time to get them down. These are simple tips, but they are important if you want people to take you seriously.
We Let Social Lingo Run Our Professional Lives
It’s happened to me before. I’ll be writing a professional paper, then I take a break to text a friend. When I go back to that paper, I realize I don’t care as much about all the technical jargon I was trying so hard to incorporate just a few minutes ago. This happens when you let your personal and social lingo creep into your professional life.
Learn to transition between chatting with friends and being a professional in the working world by taking a few extra seconds to read over whatever you’re about to send, print, or turn in. Make sure you use your technical eye and check that you have the proper tone throughout the entire piece, so you can prevent a potential slip-up in the future.
We Care More About Being Correct than Being Relatable
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are people who care more about grammatical correctness than relatability. Have you heard how odd some sentences sound when they are grammatically correct? Many of the more common, conversational phrases we use today aren’t 100 percent proper grammar.
In most cases, stick with the more relatable and conversational phrases over the phrases that are grammatically correct. Don’t alienate your audience simply because you feel you have to write your piece perfectly correct. Following basic grammar is oftentimes enough.
This rule does not apply when in a highly professional setting like a business presentation, however. For the most part, perfect grammar is the standard. If you’re pitching a product to a highly sought-after client, you better make sure you have another person (or two, or three) review your work before presenting.
We Believe We’re in Roles Where Grammar Isn’t “That Important”
I hear this excuse all too often from people in engineering or development roles. You get any technical role that skews more toward analytical or math-focused skills, and suddenly people think grammar no longer matters. Obviously, this isn’t true.
Everyone benefits from proper grammar. Everyone. Maybe you don’t believe that, but I think it’s all about perception and standards. Hold yourself to higher standards in a “non-essential” function of your role as a means for others to do the same. Even if you never write anything, it’s likely you will need to relay information verbally to others on your team. It’s likely you will interact with someone at a higher level. Wouldn’t you like to portray an image of a confident, well-rounded employee?
Whatever your reasons, and there are many, there are always important reasons in any function for someone to exercise proper grammar.
We Don’t Know When We’ve Made an Error
I ran into a situation at work recently where I found a typo on a web page. When I asked someone to make the edit, she honestly thought the error was correct. She didn’t realize she had a mistake at all when she wrote the text. She quickly admitted she wasn’t good at grammar, but also continued the conversation saying she had always written the error in that way. Nobody in her life had ever taken the time to guide her, which made me sad.
Arguably, it wasn’t a large error in the scheme of things, but it was still a grammatical error that made her (and the company) look less professional.
Any time you’re going to write something new, think about the tools and resources you have in your life that can help you become a better writer. Think about spell check and tools like Grammarly. Think about a person or two in your life who can read over your work before any other eyes see it.
Make the resources around you such that you’re never in a situation where you don’t even notice an error. Enlist in tools like Grammarly (mentioned earlier) so that you can feel more confident in your writing.
We Aren’t Receptive to Feedback
What you write is a reflection of your experiences, your thoughts, and your knowledge. Often, it’s very personal to you. Because of that, you may keep your words close and may not allow others to read what you’ve written. And, if you do allow others to have insight into your words, you don’t want to hear if something about your piece is less-than-perfect.
However, I challenge you to think of writing as a culmination of a work in progress and the result of group input. It’s likely most of what you write is nothing new (the specific words you use, that is), and is a reflection of outside sources, anyway. Then why wouldn’t you want outside feedback from others?
I get it. I’ve shut down before when we had to do silly peer reviews in college. I hated receiving feedback that I did something wrong from someone who wasn’t a good writer. But, I needed it. I needed to hear when I was wrong. It’s so easy to become prideful with your writing, but please be open-minded to feedback. I became a better writer once I started listening to the feedback from others because a lot of it had some truth to it.
I’ll even go a step further to say that you should always feel free to provide feedback on my posts, too. If you find typos, errors, or grammar issues, let me know! What use is writing if it doesn’t provide some dialogue, even if only on the technical aspects?
I truly challenge you to do the same with anything you write. You’ll be a stronger writer and a stronger grammarian for it.
What are your motivations for being a good writer? Share in the comments below!