The Collegiates' Guide to Professionalism: Language in the Workplace

Language is an important part of business that is often overlooked. So many people are taking this aspect of business less seriously than the other aspects because they don't realize the implications of their actions. It's also the component that bothers me the most, aside from grammar. I notice immediately when someone speaks ignorantly or is a 23 year old speaking like a 9th grader.

Professors and employers notice this too. Now, if you're a counselor who works with children, it would probably be good for you to be able to relate to your clientele. But in the majority of work settings, you should want to be able to speak intelligently and eloquently, not only to impress your coworkers, but make it sound like you actually know what you're talking about.

Here's an example. Email is the most popular method of business conduction today. Many people would rather interact through email instead of face to face when they have the option. What a lot of people forget, the way you write through email is often the first impression someone has of them. In fact, it makes enough of an impression that several of my professors have gone on tangents about this particular topic.

"[I will] ignore emails that are unprofessionally written."

Yeah, and this professor isn't the only one. If you're a blogger trying to work with a brand, why on earth would they want to work with you if the first line of your email looks like this: "Hey, I would totally, like, love 2 work with you bc your, like, a super cool brand." One, you sound like a 13 year old and two, you don't even have a vision for your collaboration.

The same goes for other businesses. If you apply for a job and don't know how to use language that is not only professional, but also appeals to the type of language the business uses, you're less likely to be taken seriously. What I mean by this is that you should do your research on what the company/agency's mission statement is. By doing this, you become more familiar in what the company stands for and you can impress others with your awesome lingo.

"Are you seriously sending me this right now?"

This is the thought of many when people read your emails that are written like a 6th grader. I know when you were in college, you wondered why on earth you had to write a 10 page paper in MLA format with intelligent language. Well, here's your answer. When you speak/write like a child, you get treated like a child. Why on earth would I want to hire a child in my professional business? Why on earth would I take anyone seriously when they write/speak like that (unless they are a child, of course)?

This is probably why I tend to roll my eyes when people use the word "bae" seriously. I can think of better descriptive words than calling my significant other "bae". #sorrynotsorry.

"I wish I could save these [emails] and share them with students to show them what NOT to do."

Have you ever thought about/googled weird laws that have passed in your state? For example, here in Texas, it is illegal to shoot a buffalo from the second story of a hotel. It's also illegal to sell one's eye as well as milk someone else's cow. Real life. Anyway, after you've all googled weird laws passed in your state, have you ever thought about the fact that someone actually had to do those things in order for them to become laws? Yeah.

Do you really want to be the reason or even one of the examples for what NOT to do? I'm betting that you don't. Think before you speak, write, act, whatever else there is. Don't be the example of what not to do.

"It's always better to be more formal than too personal."

 Hands down, this is the best piece of advice when it comes to language. When meeting with someone for the first time, it's always better to address them as "Mr." or "Ms." or "Your Honor", etc. Start the bar up high and give the other person the opportunity to lower it. Imagine this: You're in charge of hiring for a company. Someone, a person you've never met, walks in for an interview and says, "Hey, I'm here to see this [insert name here] chick/dude and I'm stoked." By doing this, the person has set the bar extremely low for themselves. Always set the bar high for yourself. By speaking at a personal level, especially in an interview, it shows disrespect, ignorance, and to an extent, takes away the interviewer's opportunity to set the tone for the meeting. Give them that opportunity. Language is definitely an important part to any professional's repertoire. Though it may be severely underrated, it's a common quality that many employers look at when hiring.