Saturday, August 28, 2010

Creating a Favorable First Impression: Egregious Grammar Can Undo You

The display of unacceptably bad grammar even by well educated Americans occupying high positions is not uncommon. A couple of examples that readily come to mind: A few years ago, the then-police commissioner of New York City telling Charlie Rose: “….he gave a copy of the report to the mayor and I.” A similarly horrifying mix up of the subjective and objective pronouns from another PBS interview, this one involving a state governor as the guest: “She is excited that her and her family will be moving back north to be closer to her parents….” But here is something that really takes the cake. It’s an excerpt from baseball star Roger Clemens’s statement during a congressional hearing last year which was rebroadcast on NPR’s All Things Considered last week:

“Once again Mr. Congressman, I think he misremembers the conversation that we had. Andy and I’s relationship was close enough to know that if I would have known that he had done HGH which I now know, if he was knowingly knowing that I had taken HGH, we would have talked about the subject. He would have come to me to ask me about the effects of it.”

The above “murder” of the English language is so “criminal” that I doubt if I will ever be able to disassociate Roger Clemens the person from his language skills, and Clemens’s above “tour de force” will become Exhibit A in my module on “destructive grammar” when presenting the topic of “Some verbal and nonverbal skills for creating a highly favorable first impression.”

Why I am writing this particular post is to warn you that egregious grammar a la Clemens will, in all probability, completely dissolve your chances of success in a job interview or at an important networking event.

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