Speaking Tips: The importance of language skills

Ever notice something that didn’t sound quite right?

Late last week I was walking by someone well dressed, wearing a tie in fact. He was speaking into his cellphone and I caught this gem: “Tell them that I dropped the F-bomb for a ree-zon” (emphasis on reason, for some reason).

It made me think about how important language and word choice can be in all of our daily communication. Now, I have no idea what or why that businessperson chose to use that particular phrase, but I realize that I don’t need to know. Why? Because the only real ree-zon to use that type of language in daily conversation is simple – laziness.

In our media-driven society, we hear quite a bit of colorful language used in nearly every walk of life. Through the magic of teevee, we are lead to believe that it’s important, scratch that, necessary, no-no, acceptable to use foul language in our professional conversations.

The thing is, words are an important part of how we communicate. This is especially true on the telephone and other electronic mediums where face-to-face inflections aren’t seen. For me, whenever I hear someone curse in a professional conversation their credibility is immediately suspect. Why?

1. Foul language usually implies a lack of control over emotions.
2. It says, “this message wasn’t important enough to me to find the right words”.
3. It’s simply unprofessional.

There are no absolutes in life, or in the rules of communication. I simply believe that people invoke that “no absolutes” theory a bit too often in order to get away with poor behavior.

The next time you’re thinking about dropping the f-bomb in a business communication for effect (or any ree-zon), think twice, and choose the right words that will tell your audience that you’ve thought things through, and that they have a real reason to heed your words.

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