We try hard to put our best foot forward and look professional when we meet face-to-face.
Then what do we do? We write an e-mail, post a forum comment or blog filled with spelling and grammatical errors.
Technology’s on-demand ability, through the use of smart phones and laptop computers, has pushed text-driven communications to the forefront, where often the first impression we make is through the words we write.
Unfortunately, the acceptance of electronic communications and the use of social media have eased some of the strict rules of grammar. Misspelled words, wrong tenses and bad punctuation demonstrate carelessness, undermining our professionalism.
The underlying impression we leave is that we do not care; that we are in a hurry; that we did not take the time to review or think about what we were writing; that the person we are communicating with is not important.
Is this the impression we want to leave with our client, prospect or future employer?
Technology can be a blessing and a curse – specifically, I am referring to predictive keying.
You may not know the term, but you likely know how it works. You key a word and the device predicts the word you want to use and enters it. For example, if you key in, “the office is locked and secure,” predictive text could insert “secret” in place of “secure” and with the click of the spacebar (confirming the text), your message is changed.
Spell check is another technology on which we’ve grown to rely. Don’t. Remember, spell check only finds misspelled words. For example, “the office is looked and secure;” ‘looked’ is spelled correctly, but isn’t what you want to say.
I recommend reading Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. It’s written by Lynn Truss, who uses humour to write informatively about the state of punctuation and the English language.
The next time you dash off that quick e-mail or key-in an answer to a text message, stop, read it again and ask yourself: Does this represent me in the best possible way?