image I came from a pretty poor family.  Sometimes we only had enough money to eat, sometimes not even that.  However, through education (the great equalizer), I managed to work my way up the economic ladder to a very comfortable middle class career.  Unfortunately, because of my background I had developed some pretty nasty speech habits.  It is not that poor people are stupid; it's just that the acceptable standard for verbal communication is different.  Below are 10 things that I needed to learn in order to effectively communicate in the professional work force.  I'm not talking about learning the queens English or preventing dangling participles.  I'm talking about very simple things that everyone, whatever economic level you are at currently, can do to improve their self presentation.

  1. Purge your vocabulary of non-existent words.  Very few of us use the word Gooder, right?  That's because gooder is not a word.  Neither is ain't, irregarless, and nah.
  2. Fix your poor pronunciation.  This one is hard for me.  The word is nu-clear not Nuke-u-ler.  It's across the street, not acrossed the street.  And many more.
  3. Eliminate double negatives.  If you "don't got none" then you must have got some.  Honestly, ain't nothing gonna' make you look more stupid than a double negative.
  4. Learn to use the correct word.  Learn the difference between Affect and Effect (more).
  5. Eliminate misused phases.  "I could care less" for example.  If you could care less, then that implies that you care more than one might expect.   "Suppose to" is incorrect, it's supposed to be "supposed to".
  6. Avoid slang.  Know your audience.  Limit slang as much as possible.
  7. Avoid verbal tics.  Again, know your audience.  Avoid "Um... Dude, can I like maybe possibly get a copy of that" in the workplace.
  8. Avoid Cursing.  We all do it.  Reserve it for when it is necessary.  Using the F-word every other sentence in a meaningless manner just doesn't fuckin' sound right.
  9. Don't over do it by eliminating contractions.  Contractions are a normal and acceptable part of the English language.  "I'm", "You're", and "can't", are all good.  If you walk around saying "I am going to lunch now" you look like you are trying too hard to sound intelligent.  Either that or you're a robot (because somehow super-intellgent robots can't learn to use contractions).
  10. Don't use words that exceed your vocabulary.  If a short word fits what you are trying to say, say it.  Don't throw in a long word just because it sounds decorous.

Even the most educated among us will violate these rules very often.  The key is three steps: (1-5) eliminate completely errors in your speech, (6-8) know your audience and level of formality required, (9-10) don't over extend yourself.