While standards of what you can and can't say in business situations are looser today than they used to be, guidelines still exist for using appropriate business language no matter what the situation.
Listen to those around you in your office, meeting or business situation. Make evaluations of the people you come in contact with, determine how they speak, what they say and how they are received.
Ask an objective person to critique your speaking voice, your grammar, your vocabulary and your personal speaking style. You may get an eye-opener about the way others perceive you.
Actively try to eliminate slang from your business vocabulary. Even slang that is widely used within an industry may not be received well by people from the outside.
Observe all the rules of basic grammar. Start by always using complete sentences and ending sentences with words other than prepositions.
Read a book, purchase an audiobook or take a seminar on the topic of communicating effectively, improving your speaking voice or increasing your vocabulary to get you started. Audiobooks and seminars are particularly effective because they allow you the opportunity to listen to an expert on the subject.
Remember your manners. "Please" and "thank you" are often overlooked in today's harried world, but in the business world, these simple social graces can speak volumes about you.
Keep the temper in check. This will help you avoid situations in which you have said something you cannot take back.
Pay special attention to the types of people in your workgroups. Jokes about the Pope might not offend you if you're a Baptist, but chances are the Catholics in your group will not appreciate the humor. Use a miniature cassette recorder to work on eliminating a strong accent, improving the strength and quality of your speaking voice and to find pronunciation errors you may not even know you're making. Playing back these cassettes is a great way to monitor your progress during this self-improvement project.
Never, ever use profanity, derogatory words or sexist and demeaning phrases. Avoid stereotypes whenever possible. Don't divulge too much information about your private life or the private lives of others you know.
- Ronnie Kaufman/Blend Images/Getty Images