My friend, Paul Myers, sales copywriter extraordinaire, offers this excellent piece of communication and persuasion advice, both for the written and spoken word. He says, “The purpose of grammar is to help ensure clarity of communication. If grammar gets in the way of getting your point across, toss the rulebook out the window.”
While that advice might make the skin of an English professor crawl (or, is it, make crawl the skin’ of an English professor?), Myers’ suggestion is right on the mark. The first goal of the communicator (the positive persuader) is to be relatable to the other person. This establishes rapport. Only then can understanding occur and effective communication and/or persuasion take place.
My friend, Stephanie West Allen once sent me an email and, not wanting to end a sentence with a preposition (perish the thought!) 🙂 and having the excellent sense of humor she has, began with, “So Bob, to what are you up?” Can you imagine actually asking someone that question, even though it’s more grammatically correct than, “What are you up to?”
The same rules apply for using really BIG words when easier-to-understand words will be…err, easier for the person to understand. And speaking technical jargon to one of the non-technical persuasion? Naw!
But, this article is really about communication and grammar. And, communicating your point in the easiest to understand and most persuasive way possible trumps correct grammar every time.