Good Grammar in the Workplace

April 24, 2013 Legal Advice

Grammar and writing in the legal workplaceGood grammar in the workplace is an essential tool when conveying ideas and information with precision, clarity, and professionalism. With email, texting, and tweeting on the rise, it is not uncommon to hear or see a coworker or boss using incorrect grammar rules and spelling. Finding grammatical and spelling errors in a document can be embarrassing, and damper your professional profile. In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, Grammarly looked at 100 Linkedin profiles of native English speakers who worked in the consumer packaged goods industry, and analyzed their grammar. All of the professionals had worked for 3 or less employers in the past 10 years.

Grammar in the workplace according to LinkedIn profiles:

  • Professionals with fewer grammar errors in their profiles achieved higher positions. Those who had not achieved director-level positions within the 10 year span made 2.5 times as many grammatical mistakes.
  • Fewer grammar errors correlated with more promotions. Professionals with 6 to 9 promotions were seen to make 45% less grammar mistakes compared to those who had been promoted 1 to 4 times.
  • Fewer grammar errors are associated with frequent job changes. People who remained with the same company for 10 or more years made 20% more grammar mistakes than those who held 6 jobs within the same time period. One explanation is people with better grammar may be more ambitious about their career goals and opportunities. Another reason believed is those who held more jobs make fewer mistakes because they check their resume more frequently.

Exhibitions of bad grammar can not only impede your professionalism, but may cause confusion when trying to communicate with others, whether it is a coworker or client.

To prevent avoidable grammar mistakes:

  • Pay attention to detail. People who care about their writing skills display credibility, proficiency and precision in their work.  Be sure to check over your work, and have others read it to be sure it is correct, flows easily, and help enhance your writing with their critique.
  • Think critically of your writing. Learn how to structure your sentences grammatically correct, and check your spelling. The spell check on your computer is a great tool if you make a spelling error while writing. However, technology can be flawed, and miss small spelling errors, subject-verb agreement, using the wrong word (such as “its” instead of “it’s”), and other slip-ups that can happen.
  • Never use a big word when a diminutive, alternate word will be sufficient. Replacing words with larger ones to sound “more professional” can make your writing seem less credible. This is especially true if you use an incorrect word, or do not understand its meaning in context to your writing. If a common word in your vocabulary can get your point across, use it.

Becoming a top writer and having good grammar may not be one of your career goals as a lawyer. However, being able to communicate effectively is an important trait for any professional, and can benefit your career path based on this study.

To learn more about how to improving your grammar and writing skills, visit the Future Perfect website for more information and tips.

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