By Leann McDonough, Account Executive, R&J Public Relations
Happy Holiday’s to You and Yore! That was the greeting donning the very first Christmas card my husband and I received this year, and call me Scrooge, but I almost threw it out. I honestly would have, had I not been fairly certain that such a Grinch-like action would have landed me on the wrong side of Santa’s list, and surely invited all kinds of ghosts from Christmases past, present and future to haunt my decked-out doorstep. To add to my disgust, the card wasn’t handwritten. It was designed and delivered from a paper goods retailer. Had the sender’s hand simply twitched, or had her pen leaked in unfortunately suggestive locations, I would’ve forgiven the oversight (because let’s be honest, no one wants to go back and re-write a Christmas card when the recipient list seems to just be growing and growing).
The take-away from this winter tale is that there were typos, glaring typos attacking the very sentiment the sender longed to wish me (and whoever Yore is). While you could potentially argue that my reaction was telling of some terrible, deep-fostered hate of Christmas and all things jolly, you’d be wrong. I happen to love Christmas, actually. I’m just a poor reader hardened by the typos that trip up my eyes, confuse my understanding, and contribute to embarrassing feelings of incomprehension day in and day out.
In the modern workplace, timeliness is certainly key. Demands pile up, and it’s typical to feel like your ability to dig your way out from underneath them quickly is the only thing being judged, that a missed word or carelessly placed apostrophe are justified sacrifices. They aren’t.
If I’m reading your work, I’m likely getting tripped up on the grammatical oversights, which then adds to the amount of time I spend considering and trying to understand your ideas. Then, work piles up on my plate, and I’m left feeling underwhelmed by your thoughts, even if they were ground-breaking. This miscommunication hurts everyone involved.
I’m going to bring Santa into this discussion, because Santa epitomizes good intentions. What if Santa didn’t check his list twice this year and therefore didn’t pick up on the fact that he spelled my name wrong? Once misspelled, perhaps my name would then get confused with that of Leon McDonagh, who year in and year out always scores a top spot on the naughty list. Think about how I’d feel, after being a true angel all year long, if I ended up with a lump of coal under the tree Christmas morning. I’d feel confused, hurt, and wronged. Maybe then, in a fit of vengeance, I’d return the gifts I bought my family. Everyone loses, all because of the typos Santa overlooked when running behind schedule.
While proofing that email, release, article, or blog post may very well leave you a few minutes behind for the next task on your list, it’s worth the risk. You don’t want an important audience ignoring your message because it’s too hard to understand. The way you communicate is a reflection of who you are and the ideas you’re bringing to the table. So heed Santa’s advice, and check everything twice.