OK, I admit, I'm a stickler for spelling. English was always my thing in high school and college. So I look for attention to detail in communications to me, especially as it relates to taking the time to spell properly.
Part of the problem is that we are all writing quickly. Time is precious, and we are all under greater pressure to deliver more content in less time. I'm all over that. Another cause is that little, wireless device we carry around on our hips. It allows us to write fast, but often not thoroughly. What's better: fast or accurate? I believe the last factor in the sudden increase in poor spelling is the fact that people seem to accept the sloppiness. It's a battle of content and detail. And content wins. But why not both?
I know some of you are gonna consider my gripe about spelling old school. Maybe it is. I just can't help but cringe when a high-level job applicant spells my name wrong, and the spelling mistakes continue from there. How am I supposed to have confidence that the candidate will be thorough in his/her role in our agency? I mean, we're in the communications business! If anything, we should be thought leaders in respecting the English language.
As much as I try to have zero defects when writing from my BlackBerry or laptop, I make the occasional typo. Even after I proofread it two or three times. It happens. My issue is with serial offenders. The ones whose content are riddled with typos. It's just bad form. And the worst part is that it becomes a reflection of your personal brand. You could write some great ideas, and when they are submitted in an unprofessional manner, I have as much pause as praise.
So, to weed out more spelling offenders moving forward, I propose a few guidelines:
- Write slower. It takes more time to re-write an e-mail, document, or body copy than it does to tap out your thoughts a little more conscientiously in the first place.
- Be your own proofreader. Re-read your writing a few times over before clicking send.
- Pay attention to spell check. It's there for a reason. I'm always amazed at how many people ignore it.
(Editor's note: I can't believe I forgot this recent example of very public misspelling.)