Warning: Slang Slinging Can Be Harmful or Fatal to Your Career

Warning: Slang Slinging Can Be Harmful or Fatal to Your Career

By Susan Berkley

Webster defines slang as “1. a language peculiar to a particular group 2.an informal nonstandard vocabulary composed typically of coinages, arbitrarily changed words, and extravagant, forced, or facetious figures of speech.

Peculiar, informal, forced and facetious, is not exactly a positive definition, and should be a clear indicator as to why slang should be limited to certain occasions and in the company of certain people; not the workplace.

Jo Ann, our Marketing Manager recalls the day “Mary”, joined the Sales Team at her former employer.

Mary was introduced as a bright, aggressive former Senior Accounts Manager for a famous magazine. According to Jo Ann, the way management raved about her, it felt as if they were in the presence of Saint Mary!

A day or so after formal introductions, Mary was given the green light to deal directly with Senior Product Managers, Buyers and Heads of Product Development at Target, the company’s most important client. The office layout was an open floor plan. You could hear every word of every deal that was closed or under fire. Your business was literally everyone’s business.

Mary was positioned dead center of the room, right in front of Jo Ann’s desk, where she heard her first phone interaction with Target’s finest. Jo Ann was excited for a chance to watch the Maestro in action. This is what she heard:

“Hiyee Michelle, I’m the new Senior Accounts Manager and I’m like absolutely psyched about working with you and of course developing awesome product.”

The conversation continued:

“Yeah and whatever has happened in the past with your previous vendor, like just know that a bogus situation like that is unacceptable. We only wish you had dealt with us sooner. Such a bummer.”

The effects of that phone call were immediate. Mary was ostracized from the Senior Team and her contact with Target was immediately limited — at the direct request of the client. Soon Mary resigned. Talk about a “bummer.”

We all have a game face, a professional persona, complete with office lingo and mannerisms. But during interviews, meetings, dealing w/ colleagues or peers, slang must never be allowed to slip into your speech.

Be smart, recognize who you are dealing with and express yourself clearly. Ask a close friend or family member if they notice a heavy use of slang in your daily speech. Record yourself making presentations and ask yourself “did I sound like I was talking to a group of executives or to a group of friends at a poker game?”

Don’t sling slang, even amongst your closest peers. You never know who is listening and word travels fast when it’s time for promotions.


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Susan Berkley is a top voice over artist and founder of The Great Voice Company, a company devoted to teaching great voices around the world how to become successful voice over actors. The Great Voice Company is an international leader in voice over training and in providing top quality voice over recordings in all languages to discerning businesses and marketers. For additional information visit www.greatvoice.com

Copyright 2012, The Great Voice Company. All Rights Reserved. Warning: Slang Slinging Can Be Harmful or Fatal to Your Career.

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