Monday, February 7, 2011

People Don’t Know How to Write Anymore

It’s true, peoples’ ability to write, properly, is diminishing by the day, partly because people don’t write as much as they used to, and partly because of peoples’ reliance on technology such as spell check.

When is the last time you got a hand written thank you card?  You probably can’t remember because it has been so long.  People just don’t take the time anymore, which is one of the reasons that I make a point of sending out hand written thank you cards – because people instinctively know that it took some time and effort in order to select, write and then mail (you remember mail) a thank you card, and as a result, they are touched by the gesture.   But I digress . . .

I’m big on delegating and really empowering the people that I work with.  I believe that you have to trust people, give them support and encouragement, and let them make mistakes and on occasion, experience failure.

But along the way, I also learned that a lot of people do not know how to spell or put a sentence together in a way that makes sense, and as a result, I became known as somewhat of an unofficial editor in the last few positions that I have held.  And while I find it tedious to proof read an entire guest directory from cover to cover as an example, I am happy to do so if it means that the finished product does not contain spelling errors, and is, as a result, a more accurate reflection of our commitment to attention to detail.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t consider myself one of the great writers of all time or anything – I’m sure professionals would have a field day with my run on sentences and great love of the comma, but I also know that if I need to put together a strategic plan, a business plan, or a marketing plan as an example, I can pull together the right content to make a compelling read, one that will create the right vision and pull you in to where I want you to go.  And sure, I’ll use spell check, but what’s more important, and much more valuable, I’ll proof read my final copy several times before it goes out, and I’ll get someone else to proof read it as well, because I know that sometimes we can’t see our own errors.

I could be wrong but I think it’s got to do with pride, I take pride in everything that I do and I see everything that I do as an extension of myself, a reflection, and I don’t think that a lot of other people necessarily think that way.

Sure, other people take pride in what they do, but I think they also think some things are just more important than others, which in one sense is true, but as it relates to the reflection on themselves, it is not.

If you send me a report or a proposal and it is littered with spelling errors and sentences that don’t make any sense, then I assume that you didn’t think that this project was important, or certainly not as important as some other things you may have been working on.  And, if you didn’t think it was important, how compelled should I be with your findings, your argument, and how confident should I be in the calculations that you provided?

Company web sites are no exception and I frequently find errors in content, spelling, and in some cases, sentences that just stop in the middle of a point with no clear conclusion.

And don’t even get me started on cover letters.  Am I really supposed to think that you really want to work at my hotel when you couldn’t be bothered to spell my name correctly, or the name of the hotel?  And that was just in the opening paragraph – it got worse from there.

What we say is a reflection of who we are, who we really are, and what we put out there in the world for others to see is no less of a reflection of who we are and what is really important to us – perhaps more so, because what we put out there in print, especially with the implications of technology, now has the potential to be out there for a long time.

Bottom line – regardless of technology, if you are committed to walking the talk, then that should be reflected in everything that you do.

Take pride in everything that you do, and set the right example for your team members to emulate. 

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  1. Wow intense and passionate about grammar and spelling but all true.

  2. Great article. Shame about the "that that" grammar mistake. Made me laugh though!

  3. Mark:

    Looks like I lived up to my biggest fear in writing that article - that I would indeed make a spelling or grammar mistake.

    Thanks for catching it . . .