Monday, August 6, 2012

Smart people know grammar is important – an editorial

Kyle Wiens (pictured) is a businessman who knows grammar is important. He’s the CEO of iFixit, an online repair community, and founder of Dozuki, a software documentation company. He has made good grammar a policy at both companies.

Everyone who applies for a job at either company must take a grammar test, and those who flunk the grammar test do not get hired. Mr. Wiens wrote an article about this policy; the article was published by Harvard Business Review. Here’s an excerpt:
Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence...

Good grammar makes good business sense – and not just when it comes to hiring writers. Writing isn’t in the official job description of most people in our office. Still, we give our grammar test to everybody, including our salespeople, our operations staff, and our programmers.
Elsewhere in the article, Mr. Wiens says “people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing – like stocking shelves or labeling parts.”

He also says “programmers who pay attention to how they construct written language also tend to pay a lot more attention to how they code.”

The Takeaway: Grammar is important. Intelligent people judge you by your grammar. They know that if you are careful about grammar, you are probably careful about everything you do. In other words, your grammar reveals your character. But grammar and character have become politicized, and most CEOs are now afraid to talk honestly about them. That’s why I admire the courage of Kyle Wiens and of the Harvard Business Review.

See disclaimer.

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