Pachter's Pointers:
Business Etiquette Tips & Career Suggestions


Is Your Diction Affecting Your Professional Image?

A participant in a communication seminar told me about her experience in another training session, where the instructor used the phrase “All’s you gotta do.” After she heard that phrase, she stopped listening.

In the example above, the instructor’s use of language detracted from his message. 

I also have heard many people use substandard language that takes away from their professionalism. It may not be fair, but people often judge others on the quality of their diction. They may make negative assumptions about someone’s intelligence or education, based on that person’s word choice.

Consider the following phrases expressed during business conversations: 

-- Are youse finished with the project? Use just you. The word you is both singular and plural in the English language.

-- I'm gonna get it for you. Use I’m going to or I am going to.

-- Didja get to the meeting on time? Use did you.

-- All’s you gotta do. According to an article a number of years ago in the New York Times, all’s in this context started off as a contraction of all as, but generally it is considered a substandard word today. Instead of all’s, use all, and instead of gotta, use have to, so the phrase becomes All you have to do. 

-- Are you going with dem? Dem is not a word. Use them.

-- I attended the meetin. Make sure you pronounce the endings of your words. Say meeting.

And my favorite, although these words were said in a non-business setting: 

-- Jeet? No, didja? This should be expressed as: Did you eat? No, did you?

Sometimes, we may pick up the use of these nonstandard words from their use in marketing or creative fields. Think about the song I Gotta Feeling from the Black Eyed Peas, and its well-known line: I gotta feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night. Though I like the song, I would not encourage the use of gotta and gonna when speaking to others.

Monitor the way you speak. Do you use any of the above expressions? Years ago, I found out I was using gonna, and didn’t realize it until someone pointed it out to me.

Additional information on projecting a professional image can be found in my book, The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way to Success (McGraw Hill).

Pachter’s communication seminars and coaching sessions also empower professionals to use language to their advantage. Contact Joyce Hoff at or 856.751.6141 for more information.


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