Monday, July 1, 2013

Is Communication the Currency of Credibility?

The times are too many to count when an English teacher drilled in me the importance of taking care of words, whether written or spoken, like a BFF. The teacher under whose spell I fell was my mother and her ultimate respect for language I’ve since inherited. That communication mastery offered advantages that communication dysfunction didn’t amounted to a ‘duh Dora.’
Truth is, communication value isn’t up for automatic adoption by every household in America. Although the Zimmerman trial has granted an up close with one, carbon copies of Rachel Jenteal exist across the country’s multi-hued social spectrum of white, black, yellow and brown. Here’s the bombshell if you’ve concluded communication collapse is endemic to urban and rural youth: According to the WSJ, the epidemic has spread its ugly wings to cover MBA candidates.  
From where I come, command of the English language is considered an asset that buys favor. Treat it as less and your deposit registers disfavor. Call me a snob but I have a hard time lending credibility to a writer of a grammatical train wreck just as others dismiss language that fails to fit the box marked 'standard.'  Yet, the latter neatly unravels the tie to credibility class consciousness has sewn: In the great education divide, language superiority will always be preferable to the inferior’s debauchery.  
Like grammatical correctness in writing, there’s no denouncing the weight enunciation and articulation carry in the real world. However, aside from the misrepresentation of established fact in the court of law and the leak of too much information via Social Media, canceling 19-year-old Rachel Jeantel’s credibility solely on the basis of communication skill is just plain wrong.         

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

SOcial MEdia's 'SO ME' Should Be 'SO WE'

Several weekends ago, I delighted in a visit with my Godsister’s occasionally shy young son. After complimenting his snazzy duds and planting a peck on his cheek, my heart was instantly warmed when his little mouth sang appreciation.   
Research continues to record communication trends stacking textersation and Social Media consumption against old school talk. Aptly nicknamed ‘So Me,’ Social Media has managed to resurrect the ‘Me Decade’ which I once mistook for death like 80s disco. What is increasingly becoming a forgotten expression are two of the most important words in the English language – Thank you.         

With all of its utilitarian good, technology’s unleashing of mannerless monsters mark a ‘disconnect’ in the intended connection. Since media like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest were designed with social in mind, the ‘all about me’ vibe is wickedly ineffective. In order to maximize ‘social,’ you’ve got to get over you.
A negative impression is planted anytime a Twitter account holder, whether a swag-heavy marketing expert, global corporation or regular Joe Blow, neglects to acknowledge follower and non-follower comments. Granted, the Twitterverse timeline is Big Apple packed in rush hour traffic so occasional oversight is forgivable.

However, you’ll shift your ‘me’ to ‘we’ gears if you abide by the manner-molding words of Brit Morin, CEO, Brit + Co: “Your audience wants R-E-S-P-E-C-T. It’s important to respond to literally every tweet, Facebook message, and so forth. It shows users you respect them – and then they start evangelizing for you.”
Rather than hurl how-to tips on getting your manner groove on, observation of the white-gloved etiquette of a few peeps will lend an enormous clue. On Twitter, check out Boom Social CEO Kim Garst @KimGarst. Her timeline is always polished with thank you(s). Your assignment is complete when you post a comment on the blog of leadership guru, Mark Sanborn, at As a first time visitor, I received ‘Thanks Shari’ via iPhone after leaving a comment. Nice touch!      

Everyone might be going social but social is best when done with a side of supersized manners.                         


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Confessions TV: Matters Not if Lance Comes Clean

Of all the human frailties for which Americans harbor mountainous disdain, lying and cheating achieve the Mount Everest peak. On Thursday, all eyes will be glued to Lance ‘Liar liar pants on fire’ Armstrong who will pedal the media cycle for a shot at public redemption. So, when silence fails, Oprah’s your girl, right?
Dialogue is potent enough to lend reinvention to a company, brand and career, but in the tainted case of the multiple Tour de France champion whose performances were accessorized with the continuous spin of doping denials, rebranding won't be an easy feat.   

Admission without authenticity cannot conquer arrogance, which I suspect swelled due to the medicinal aids that delivered Armstrong athletic superiority for years. Sure, we love our sports heroes through the thick of drug addiction, domestic violence, and even manslaughter, but for liars and cheaters, our tolerance is thin.      
If a lying Lance lusts for the limelight to reignite a high-octane athletic career under the guise of making peace or professing guilt, some will forgive but few will forget. Why should we be duped into buying what will likely amount to another Armstrong bag of damaged goods? Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. 

The charitable cancer foundation contributions aside, the once popular yellow bracelets hailing “Live Strong” have left the duplicitous message that only the weak cheat. Yet, like you, I’ll tune in not to endorse the scoundrel, who on countless occasion manipulatively violated our trust, but because it’s Oprah, still the reigning queen of talk TV.  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Drumroll, Please, and the NYT's Words of 2012 Are...

Show me a book reader who isn’t fond of words and I’ll expose a fashionista who isn’t prematurely clamoring for Black Friday 2013. Fat chance, right? However, what separates the writer from the reader is an intense dependency and like most writers, I consider myself a logophile. Don’t get it twisted; a logophile isn’t a (designer) label queen or king but one in love with words.  
So, looking back on the year which we’ll soon bid farewell, you’re invited to take a sip of the  NYT's Words of 2012, politically stirred and pop culture shaken.

Friday, November 2, 2012

5 Tips to Transform from SM Faker to SM Shaker

I awakened earlier this week not to Superstorm Sandy’s slashing roar, thank God, but to a CNN phone interview with Corey Booker. What registered impressive was the exclamation point the interviewer attached to the Newark, NJ mayor’s commitment to audience engagement. Dubbed the Mayor of Twitter for having been the first city chief to hook over 1K followers, Booker exudes Social Media swag. Massive following aside, it’s actually his through-the-roof responsiveness that’s fist bump worthy.    
Social Media expertise I don’t dare claim but as a former journalist, I know a little ‘something something’ about communications. If here to confirm what I say, Ray Charles would be inclined to orchestrate a requiem for courtesy. Blog comments, tweet responses and retweets left unacknowledged and unanswered punctuate the abandonment of manners in the digital age. Ugh, the choice not to engage is rattling and seemingly, technology’s sharp gains have dulled our communication edge. 
Believe it or not, tools billed as social are sometimes the very antithesis of. As writers, we bear responsibility for revving the conversational engine and showing a little audience love. So, who will you be on Social Media – a faker who avoids engagement like HIV or a conversation shaker like Booker?
Here are five tips to transform you from Social Media faker to Social Media shaker:
  1. Check Direct Messages on Twitter regularly and respond accordingly. If a fellow Tweep has taken the time to contact, the least you can do is respond. Without reciprocation, silence sends the message to the one who initiated contact that they’re unimportant. That’s so not a good look.  
  2. If a fellow Tweep initiates a #FF (Friday Follow) recommendation, don’t hesitate to acknowledge his or her kindness. Better yet, repay the #FF favor in the near future.    
  3. Keep tabs on mentions and never fail to recognize Tweeps who maintain your presence on their timelines, especially when you’re not actively tweeting.  Mentions are quick draws for new followers.
  4. Never take retweets or favorites for granted. Retweets and favorites indicate informational or interest value so express appreciation for the opportunity afforded to broaden your audience.      
  5. Make a habit of acknowledging Tweeps who comment on blog post tweets. Of all the things that could be read, the choice was made to invest time in your written creation. The decision to indulge your words or video deserves thanks, especially when one doesn’t have to.    
Like communication discourtesy, the Social Media faker is dead. Wake up and shake it up!      


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ryan Lochte Should "Just Say No" to 'Jeah'

Where there is a grill and a pending ‘Jeah’ trademark, there will be headlines, especially when a newly crowned Olympian brings the buzz. So here goes Ryan Lochte, fresh from the London medal bounty to a pop culture low. Glimmeringly clear, the diamond-encrusted mouthware and bound for nowhere expression ‘Jeah’ have his feet fast track-planted for Ghetto Fab Gold.  
During the Olympic hoopla, I caught an up close and personal glimpse of the mildly cocky American swimmer who easily qualifies as a ‘to die for’ female catch. Yet, his mannerisms hinted the possibility of a hipster wannabe lurking beneath the buffed bod. The suburbanite's imitation of urban swag is all too common so Lochte’s sneakers and grills fandom, well, uh, no biggie. Grills, really? That’s so 2006. Ask Nelly who popularized the rap tune 'Grillz' if you don’t know.                  

However, it was Lochte’s idea to trademark the catchphrase that put many on pause. One Twitter user went Reaganesque, likely leading the ‘Just Say No’ to ‘Jeah’ chorus of Lochte’s English teachers. Even 90s rapper MC Eiht surfaced to claim first dibs on the term’s coinage.

Should we care about the swimmer’s grammatical lane violation or let it ride as part of his fun-loving nature? Although Lochte isn’t the first and won’t be the last, adding to the litany of communication crippling trash to which today's youth are overexposed doesn’t exactly yield role model credibility. Instead, if Lochte says ‘jeah’ to anything, let it be to a branding consultant. ‘JEAH’!       

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Writing Olympics:Gen Text Returns Bling-less

As the Olympics 2012 curtain closes, the culmination of silver, bronze or gold for the blood, sweat and tears poured into athletic preparation was truly a sight to savor by spectators worldwide. Glued to the tube so not to miss Michael Phelps’ epic medal splash or Jamaica’s Usain ‘Lightening’ Bolt’s record runs, thoughts of a Writing  Olympics flashed during commercial breaks. Seriously, had an event of this nature been held today, Generation Text would’ve returned to US soil bling-less.
Truth be told, scholastic accounts about communication skill erosion in this day and age are infamous. You may recall a WSJ report detailing the inability of MBA students to craft effective emails: “Employers and writing coaches say business-school graduates tend to ramble, use pretentious vocabulary or pen too-casual emails.” Did undergraduate study fail to prepare them adequately or was preparation written off in favor of fractured textsations (conversations via text)?  
According to Sharon Washington, executive director of the National Writing Project in Berkeley, Calif., “U.S. high schools and undergraduate programs have de-emphasized writing instruction.” Washington finds comfort in the fact that texting is writing but that’s a product of thought I prefer to leave on the shelf.  
While it’s one thing to peruse these articles, being the recipient of overly casual communication in a business setting offers proof positive. Imagine the horror on my face when I received this iPhone-transmitted email from a vendor I contacted to resolve an issue: ‘Uh, s-faced @ HH.TTL.’ Happy hour? Seemingly, the beverage of preference had drained all professional accountability. It would’ve been more palatable had she said “If not urgent, may I get back with you tomorrow?” OMG, TMI, and I believe that’s what Generation Text calls DT – drunk texting.  
Following a round of interviews, one candidate closed his follow-up email with “TU for taking time to discuss the position with me.” Yes, I’m well aware of what TU means and unlike Generation Text, my main information resource isn’t Wikipedia. Still, in a professional environment, the casual tone doesn’t exactly convey gold-medal best.                 
Unmistakably, what Phelps and Bolt accomplished in London required tunnel-vision commitment. By the same token, communication is a skill to be mastered since it starts the success engine. Matching the message with the audience and recognizing when casual and professional language usage is appropriate is a must. Technology might’ve initiated Generation Text’s rocky start but it’s never too late for a strong finish.