Keith Urban can hold a fork

March 4, 2013

As branders, we preach that a company's brand is communicated through its corporate culture and, for some businesses, that the people themselves are the brand. So, do a person's "optional" "niceties" (grammar included) affect your perception of them? Of the company or brand they represent?

What? You didn't know that its, um, it's National Grammar Day? Me either, um, neither. But it got me thinking. As branders, we preach that a company's brand is communicated through its corporate culture and, for some businesses, that the people themselves are the brand. So, do a person's "optional" "niceties" (grammar included) effect, um, affect your perception of them? Of the company or brand they represent?

Watching American Idol the other night, as one does, I noticed that Keith Urban got up from his chair to shake hands as the fate of each contestant was decided. Every single time. Stand up. Shake. Sit down. But Randy Jackson just sat there like the Queen of England, shaking hands sitting down. Sure, Keith was brought up in the British Commonwealth where they have manners (although Australia is debatable), but are expectations for personal behavior really that much different here, now, in the US? In a global economy?

So, should you stand or sit when shaking hands? Let me Google that for you. (And, Randy, please stand up.)

Last week, I had dinner with an Ivy-League-educated partner at a top consulting company. As he told me about a recent business trip to India, he ate his food-snob dinner, holding the fork in his fist like a baboon (or maybe just Tom Colicchio) and, when finished, literally tossed both the knife and fork willy-nilly onto the plate. Had his parents never taught him to eat properly? Is New Haven really that bad? And, more to the point, why doesn't his company care about how its employees are perceived (perception is reality, you know) not only here in the US but also abroad where, in a business like consulting, they are the brand.

I'm not asking for Downton Abbey consommé-vs-soup-spoon type manners. But I don't think it's too much to ask an executive to hold a knife and fork properly and to know what to do with them when finished. In the past, companies weren't shy about executive training. Or at least older, grumpier executives setting the kids straight every now and then. Has that time passed? Can no one's manners or grammar be called into question any more?

So, how should you hold your fork? Let me Google that for you. (I bet Keith knows.)

Now, on to grammar: Is it okay to write badly and not proofread as long as "Sent from my iPhone" appears at the bottom of an email? Other than free marketing for Apple, why that message still even exists escapes me. Perhaps "Don't care about grammar" would be a more appropriate message?

How do you remove that message? Let me Google that for you. (And start proofreading.)

And the most rampant grammar violation of all: Is it okay not to know when to use "I" and when to use "me"? As in: Me and my (ex-)friend had dinner last week. Wrong, for several reasons. Or: My (ex-)friend's table manners disappointed the waiter and I. Wrong again. Something you should have learned 20 or 30 years ago. In, um, grammar school. Something, no doubt, that current students of English (perhaps even some of your clients) know. And care about.

How do you learn which to use? Let me Google that for you. (Tip: Remove the other person from the sentence. Me had dinner last week. My (ex-)friend's table manners disappointed I. Something's clearly wrong.)

Am I just being old fashioned? A manners and grammar fussbudget? Does any of this reflect on the company that the person is representing? If so, what personal behaviors have caught your eye? And how's my grammer, um, grammar?

Sent from my iPhone

blog comments powered by Disqus
Brandlogic and CoreBrand have become Tenet Partners — Where brand meets innovation®. More