Breaking open the mind …

A word about my day job

My day job is as a corporate trainer: I teach staff in my business to do their jobs.  In the last year or so, I’ve become much more aware of the industry I’m in, and the oh-so-interesting social, psychological, and economic impact I can have simply by going to work every day and doing my job.

The title of his blog category, breaking open the mind, is a nod to Daniel Pinchbeck’s Breaking Open the Head:  A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Shamanism, and though no mind-altering substances—unless you count knowledge—were used, that’s exactly what it feels like.  I’m back in university, and my mind is being blown.

I worked for a year as a trainer in my department before I really understood what I was doing and what I could be doing in comparison.  Yes, I’d been introduced to participant centered training delivery, but that was in-class, and the world of training seemed to be so much bigger than that.  Online asynchronous, synchronous, and blended methodologies were becoming predominant in the industry outside my workplace, and I had a feeling that we should be moving in that direction.  There was no evidence that we were though, and for the longest time, I couldn’t figure out what was bothering me.  I hadn’t developed as a trainer sufficiently to be able to articulate this feeling; I didn’t even know what the terms asynchronous, synchronous, and blended referred to; and without being able to express my feeling, I couldn’t consciously process the information.

That will give you some insight into how my mind works.  Shamanism and corporate training:  in the world of the learning mutt, they mesh 🙂

Business writing

Last week I spent a few days in a business writing course, first as a student, to learn the content, then as a trainer, to work on the implementation of the training for my department.

It was a great refresher, and I did learn a few things.

My main takeaway: I’m a grammar Nazi, and proud of it!  I’m not ashamed to admit that I can detect verb or pronoun agreement issues at 50 paces.  I can generally advise which word should be used (e.g. advise, or advice) and will visibly twitch when someone says ‘irregardless,’ or speaks about how a new policy impacts staff.  It has an impact on staff, unless it’s the equivalent a meteor hurtling toward the earth!

Recently, a few blog postings on grammar have come my way:

In fairness, I should also post this response:

Yes, I believe that English is a living language, and as such, is in flux, as are its ‘rules.’  Common usage does eventually get entered into the Oxford English Dictionary.  In fact, I think that irregardless has been entered in some dictionaries already thanks to its rampant misuse.

I’ll remind everyone that we aren’t living in the days before a dictionary of any kind existed.  We now have excellent tools like spell and grammar check to alert us to potential issues.  I recommend that every writer in any professional context use them.  In order to use these tools though, a familiarity with the basics of good grammar is necessary.  How else will you know what to ignore and what to change?

If for no other reason, a writer should use proper language and punctuation because it might rankle with a manager, prospective employer, agent, or editor and scuttle any chance of advancement or publication.

In training design, good grammar is imperative.  You have to model what you want your participants to emulate in practice.  Professionalism shouldn’t be a swear word in the workplace.

Having said all that, I must offer this apology:  I am not perfect.  I make spelling and grammar errors, but I correct them when possible, and try to learn from them what I can.  Such is the life of a learning mutt  🙂

Some grammar resources (for those who wish to improve):

Also, for a fun book about grammar check out Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

So do you know your shit, or just know you’re shit?  Do you hate me now that you know I’m a grammar Nazi?  No Writerly Goodness for you!