Serena Simmons Consultant Psychologist

Change. Motivate. Adapt. Improve. Perform

Mind your language…

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Do you remember the programme Mind your Language?


For those that don’t remember, or even weren’t around when it was aired back in the 70’s and again later I might add in the 80’s (!), the programme was about a group of foreign students who took an English speaking class in a local college.   I suppose it would be the equivalent now to something like a TEFL or TESOL?

As you can imagine, the cast were made up of a bunch of funny characters who every week, came along to class with stories and anecdotes and in turn they caused absolute havoc for the poor unassuming teacher…though there was usually a happy ending.

The funny thing was seeing, in a light hearted way, the problems people had getting to grips with English as a language.  In the process there would be inappropriate things said, funny things said, confusing things said and all in all you would be taken on this amusing journey for which it was easy to have sympathy for the characters who were clearly fluent already in another language or 3!

Why am I telling you about this?

The programme came to mind this week as I struggled, yet again, to get a response that was timely, coherent or even polite from someone I have been working with in my practice. This person was not ‘minding their language’.

But why is it a problem?

Well, I’m actually helping this person to grow and rebrand their business and having discussed the issue with them*, what we were able to identify was that this kind of communication IS NOT helping them to do these things.  In fact it is having the opposite effect.

It is something I see a lot in my work both as an Academic and also in my private work.  People can become lazy and take for granted their communication which can come across more as text speak. In this capacity I literally can get emails like this (which is made up based on experience!):



i’d like to see you thursday. i’m in at 11 and 2 so will see you then.

let me know which one.

also, which reference did you say i should include?



Umm, this presents as just a slight problem.

Aside from no context (both in terms of the ‘references’ or who Sarah is?), no discussion re times or querying my own availability, there is also the huge issue of poor grammar and non existent evidence of manners.

Now, don’t be lulled into thinking that this is just something that ‘younger’ people do or that this is just an affliction of students.  I see the same type of communication day in day out from professional, and indeed more ‘mature’ people who are even running their own businesses.

Who you are being needs to be consistent

When this happens in my practice, I raise it with the person in question as I know it will be effecting their business and hence business growth. Why? because I know that who you are has to be consistent, and in turn your communication has to consistently portray who you want to/claim to be.  This is the same for a student in a university, someone in their workplace or even for someone running their own company.

Who you ‘show up as’, even in an email, is who you are to the person who receives it.

 When I work with a client on their business, we look at who they are presenting themselves to be across the board, maybe starting with their website or brochure and then looking at the spoken word.  I think you’d be hard pushed to find someone that would proclaim to ‘get back to you sporadically.  Will write to you in text talk and sometimes one word answers without context’.

Who are you presenting your self to be?

I’d ask you to think about how you are presenting yourself in your correspondence?

Do you like to see grammatically correct mail with some politeness or maybe you have also been on the receiving end of mail that has ‘put you off’ from hiring someone?

I’d love to hear your thoughts…till next week!

*This issue is always raised with a client and is therefore non-specific to any individual*


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