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The Lack of Effective Communication Skills in Today's Society

Updated on November 1, 2014
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I first met my grandmother when I was four years old, and she died when I was seven. However, in those three short years, she ingrained into me one very important lesson. Since she was a retired first-grade teacher, she taught me the basics of great communication skills before I even started kindergarten. She often said that people judge us by our communication skills. To quote her, "If you speak and write like an idiot, people will think you are an idiot." Now that I am in my forties, I still hear those words every day, and it saddens me that we, humans as a whole, are becoming very apathetic about our communication skills.

Correct spelling, proper grammar and correct use of punctuation are the foundation to effective writing. In fact, my high school Creative Writing teacher told me that it is very rare for a young writer to have all three of the basic skills of great writing. These skills are spelling, grammar/punctuation and creativity. She said that I was one of those rare young writers. Again, her words, like my grandmother's, stuck with me. While I did not go into the writing profession, I kept those words in my head whenever writing anything for my other jobs.

However, when I earned my associate's degree online, I participated in class discussions and team projects via the written/typed word. During my two years of classes, I never heard the voices of my professors or classmates. What really appalled me was the lack of the three basic writing skills in my fellow students. The spelling and grammar was so atrocious that it was literally painful to read. The assignments and tests were not near as difficult as it was to read and decipher the meanings of my classmates' posts in order to respond with something useful, which was important because participation was a large part of the course grades. Furthermore, the complete lack of punctuation made it extremely bothersome for me to interpret the meaning of their posts. I just sat at my computer trying to figure out how these people called themselves literate and worthy of obtaining a college degree. With all of the effort I put into my writing skills and course work, I still graduated with a 3.63 GPA. I can only wonder what kind of grades they earned.

After much resistance, I finally joined my first of many social websites in April 2008. Actually, it was the only way to communicate with some of my old friends or even family members. Once I got into it, I was creating profiles left and right for all different kinds of social sites. The more I joined, the more I came across posts and statuses with incorrect spelling, bad grammar and omitted punctuation, even among people that had "earned" college degrees or whom I considered quite intelligent. Again, it is literally painful for me to read the various news feeds. One could say that I could just refrain from reading, but I question if I would still have friends that way. Even bloggers splatter their sites with offerings and posts mired with misspellings, improper grammar, and a lack of punctuation.

The misuse of homophones, or homonyms, is throughout the social and blog sites. Common examples include "your" for "you're", "were" for "where" and/or "we're", "then" for "than", and "its" for "it's" or vice versa. The examples endlessly go on. I see an insane amount every day.

The spoken word is just as god-awful. My own sister often speaks with incorrect verbiage. Instead of saying, "she doesn't", she will say, "she don't". When I correct her, she becomes very agitated with me, or even angry. It was not just my sister either. My second wife would get annoyed with me when I corrected the grammar of my stepson and stepdaughter. She and I are now divorced, but her daughter has earned her degree the University of Virginia. Her son completed his sophomore year at Old Dominion University before enlisting into the United States Army. Both of them performed extremely well at two very prestigious universities in Virginia and beyond. People just do not like being corrected, but I believe that every one of us should be concerned about how we speak and come across to people.

While there are offenders of all ages, it seems the heaviest concentration of offense is in today's youth, more specifically the age range of 14-25. I wonder if this is due to texting and Twitter, where character limits apply. However, when it comes to forums with no limits, the texting and Twitter abbreviations still abound. I also seriously think about the writing skills displayed in term papers for both high school and college, and how are they graded? I know that many students would not be pleased with some of the grades they would see if I became their English teacher/professor.

I beg to wonder who is actually speaking up to correct the course this ship is travelling. Are the parents even making an effort to teach their children effective communication skills? Are the hands of teachers bound by Standard of Learning scores? It seems they are just teaching the tests and not what is truly important for the future of generations to come. Are we really accepting this "dumbing down" of civilization? Will we really criticize those that are not so apathetic about their communication skills? Will being smart and using our skills effectively become liabilities? I wonder what my grandmother would say.

Therefore, I put this challenge to everyone.
Take pride in what you are communicating to others. Show some courtesy for yourself and others. Display your intelligence and earn the respect of everyone. Because when you communicate like an idiot, people will treat you like an idiot. In addition, you would make my grandmother proud, which is what I try to do every single day that I breathe.

Unwanted Results from Poor Communication
Unwanted Results from Poor Communication | Source

© 2012 Charles Dawson

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    • profile image

      Josef Tovey 23 months ago

      Mmmmmm

    • profile image

      metoo 2 years ago

      Personally, I have noticed this about kids my age and it has been driving me crazy. I try to rise above it and write as best as I can, and so far it has been working. But this all still bugs me, and you phrased it very well. I couldn't have said it any better. Thanks!

    • chuckd7138 profile image
      Author

      Charles Dawson 3 years ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      That's a very valid point, cfin. Maintaining eye contact during a conversation is a very important aspect of effective communication skills, as it shows a level of respect for the speaker and the speaker's message. Thank you, cfin, for reading and commenting.

    • cfin profile image

      cfin 3 years ago from The World we live in

      Man, it really bugs me that people 25 and younger can't make eye contact. Luckily I am 26. (smiling sarcastically)

    • chuckd7138 profile image
      Author

      Charles Dawson 3 years ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      I have edited this hub many times, but I will be the first to admit that I do not always catch my mistakes. I will definitely take another look, Alfredo. Thank you for reading and commenting, but more importantly, thank you for the constructive criticism. I greatly appreciate it.

    • profile image

      Alfredo 3 years ago

      This is a good column. I would add that editing is also very important. In fact, in this column, there are grammatical errors (can you spot them?). What bugs me is that it seems that editing is becoming a lost art. An error here and there might be excusable but it seems the world of good grammar, good spelling, good punctuation skills, and good editing is becoming a thing of the past. I hope not.

    • chuckd7138 profile image
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      Charles Dawson 4 years ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      Thank you, Nicky, for reading and commenting. I join you in those hopes and prayers.

    • NickyHunt profile image

      Nicky Hunt 4 years ago from Kansas City, MO

      What a spectacularly written article, thank you for posting this.

      I completely agree with you about the devolving of English (and many other languages). Personally, I think the "new way of writing" is rubbish. I am currently taking online classes and it breaks my heart to watch people write. I feel that, as a culture, we don't spend enough time trying to effectively communicate our thoughts. I hope and pray that this becomes resolved with time and we return to speaking like the incredibly intelligent beings that we are.

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 5 years ago

      Your welcome:) the homemade apple sauce sounds delicious.

    • chuckd7138 profile image
      Author

      Charles Dawson 5 years ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      Thank you! And yes, my grandmother was a very positive influence, and she also made the best homemade applesauce with Macintosh apples. After 34 years, I still haven't found one as good as hers.

      Thank you for the comment and feedback. It truly means a lot.

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 5 years ago

      Good grammatical skills are essential for effective meaningful communication. The ability to speak clearly and distinctly is also an important skill in order to communicate with others more effectively. This is a very well-written hub so I'm going to have to agree with your creative writing teacher on that. lol. It seemed like your grandmother was a positive role model for you. Voted up!

    • chuckd7138 profile image
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      Charles Dawson 5 years ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      Wow!!! I'm speechless. Thank you! Thank you so much! Wow!!!

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      chuckd,

      This is a very useful hub and I agree with everything you say. People do judge us from how we communicate with them, and that is how I judge them. As an EFL teacher, I constantly stress the importance of spelling, grammar, and correct punctuation to my students. Voted up ands sharing.

    • chuckd7138 profile image
      Author

      Charles Dawson 5 years ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      With wistful sigh, I do acknowledge that language styles do evolve, and I'm sure my grandmother, being the one with open mind and saintly patience, would've have reminded me that, to improve, we too must evolve. However, I feel that these changes and abbreviations are more "devolving". It doesn't look like a change to help with pronunciation. It looks like laziness. Then again, that's just my opinion.

      Marketing Merit, I thank you whole heartedly for taking the time to read and also to leave a comment. As I still consider myself new to HubPages, it means a lot to me. Thank you.

    • Marketing Merit profile image

      C L Grant 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Excellent article...a man after my own heart!

      It's the same in the UK also. I am often mortified when reading how my own two teenagers write on social networking sites.

      Thanks to text messaging, youngsters have developed a "new" language of their own. Not only are they oblivious to grammatical errors but, in truth, they really don't care!

      "Their," "they're" and "there" are now entirely interchangeable!

      In the UK at least, I believe changes in the education system are also partly to blame. Teaching styles here are far more relaxed than they used to be. As a parent, there appears to be less emphasis on traditional core principles such as grammar.

      Sadly, as Grand Old Lady above has commented, language does change over time. You only have to read the works of William Shakespeare to realise that! ;)

    • chuckd7138 profile image
      Author

      Charles Dawson 5 years ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      Thank you for reading. Also, I am very grateful and humbled by your compliment. Thank you!

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 5 years ago from Philippines

      Very interesting, and well written. It's true, technology has a lot to do with the way grammar and punctuation has changed. From an online linguistics course, I learned that languages change over time. Spelling had many variations and only became formalized with the invention of the printing press. With today's technology a lot of "shortcut words" are being used in texting. Over time, they may become an accepted norm. Language reflects experience, and the grammar and punctuation of your grandmother's time preceded the computer age. However, it definitely resulted in her making you into a talented and informed writer:)