Maybe it’s because of where I grew up or maybe it’s because of my parents’ obsession with small details, but poor grammar and spelling errors drive me crazy! When I was younger, my parents always proofed my homework with a red pen. As a result, the importance of correct spelling and proper grammar usage was burned into my brain at a young age.
Sometimes your writing is the first and only impression that you get. Whether you like it or not, people judge you by your ability to put together a sentence and properly use “your” and “you’re.” Although punctuation usage is not my strongest skill, poor spelling and grammar can cause me to stop in my tracks and decide not to use a vendor or judge someone prematurely.
Everyone has words they can’t spell. For me it is anything that has an “ei” or an “ie.” No matter how many times I repeat the rhyme “i before e, except after c…,” I still need my spell-check to correct me. And, here is where I get mad. Did you see that magical word I just wrote? Spell-check. Do you know why it is magical? It is magical because it is available on almost every device we use to do business today. My phone’s text messages even have spell-check! Even as an adult, I can carry my parents around in my pocket with their red pens.
Poor spelling and grammar also prevent people from communicating well. In today’s business world, much of our communication is through email, instant messaging, text, etc. If you cannot properly communicate your message, time will be wasted and mistakes will be made. Knowing how to write an email well is crucial to effectively doing business.
Thankfully, I’m not the only one who thinks this way. On the Harvard Business Review Blog, there was a post about this very subject. In it, Kyle Weins, CEO of the iFixit online community and founder of Dozuki software, discusses what proper grammar and spelling mean for job applicants at his company. You can also find several books written on the importance of correct grammar usage, including my favorite one, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Approach to Punctuation by Lynn Struss. Not surprisingly, this book is prominently displayed on my parents’ coffee table.
This subject may seem really minute and unimportant to many people. But, the next time you go to send any written communication, take an extra two minutes to ensure there are no mistakes.
Try these incredibly simple tips to make sure your written documents go out error free:
- Use spell-check
- Have someone proofread your document
- Read the document out loud to make certain it sounds the way you want it to
- Put it away for the day and revisit it the next morning with fresh eyes