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Alarming differing attitudes in the workplace about “basic” mistakes in business writing

What do you thing about “basic mistakes” in business writing?


More importantly, what are your clients/customers likely to thing about “basic mistakes”?

Did you still understand what I meant – even with the thing/think mistake?

Did you judge me harshly for this mistake  or did you just “move on” without any distraction?

TB training group


As a business writing coach and trainer – I’ve been witnessing first-hand an interesting shift in attitude towards ” basic mistakes” in business writing.

The think is:  “mistakes” such as thing/think  slip threw/through.

Spell check will knot pick up words that are proper words (just not the correct words for the sentence they are used in).

Spell check is not enough!


In training sessions, I’ve had younger writers (super-smart, young financial writers) argue that:

1. they didn’t worry about “basic” mistakes. They thought the course content section on correcting “basic” mistakes was too basic for them – things such as basic word confusion (whether/weather, bare/bear)

2. their audience would understand what they meant

3. they were too busy to worry about minor mistakes

4. their business was “numbers” not words.


Do they have a point? Please share in the comments section below.


As a word nerd, I’m the sort of person who DOES care about getting the words right – but I’m open to “move with changes”.

English is an evolving language. Business Writing and  what is considered professional and efficient is changing at a rapid pace


After I took a “calming breath” to the above “push back” about basic writing mistakes, I:

1. pointed out “basic mistakes” prominently displayed on their website

2. encouraged the younger business writers to think that even if they didn’t care – their audience (their customers and clients) was from a generation that probably DID care about basic writing mistakes and word confusion.

From my experience  – it’s not that younger writers are not smart – they just have other priorities with there work. (That last mistake was also deliberate to see if you noticed or cared!)

word nerd CU

What has been your experience?

Have you noticed that younger writers seem to be less concerned about “basic mistakes”?

Is it now too “old fashioned” to worry about “basic mistakes”?

I’m open to suggestions on what is most important in business writing these days. Please share your views in the comments section below.




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These days, lots of people and organisations need help with how to COPE with too much work, too much information, too many meetings, delivering difficult news, business writing, effective e-mail, e-mail overload, cross-cultural communication etc. I like to help people COPE.
















4 comments on “Alarming differing attitudes in the workplace about “basic” mistakes in business writing

  1. Dave
    September 26, 2014

    Grrr, I feel a rage welling up within me when I see such basic mistakes! It’s sloppy and unprofessional, and it’s not just about ‘getting what you meant’, it’s about being able to read it! My mind stumbles over errors, and makes reading something impossibly difficult. In business, how can you basic mistakes going out on contracts or tenders? Will people ‘get what you mean’? NO THEY WON’T! They might still get it after that misspelling, but THAT word is not the word you want, means a different thing and COMPLETELY changes the meaning. People won’t get the meaning you intend, they’ll get the meaning you communicated. So don’t complain when you can’t enforce your legal document that was just plain wrong.

    • efangelist
      September 26, 2014

      I still make mistakes – but at least I care and try to correct the mistakes. What astounds me is the attitude that either (1) the audience will understand what you mean or (2) the audience is “too dumb” to recognise a mistake. I guess I just had bosses and teachers who would go to the trouble of kindly helping me correct my mistakes.

  2. Dave
    September 26, 2014

    Ha, and in my comment, I made a mistake – “how can you *accept* basic mistakes going out on contracts or tenders?” But this is a website comment, not business… 😉

  3. efangelist
    September 26, 2014

    If’s funny how some people find it hard to let a mistake stand – even in social media. Once I’m aware of a mistake I have to go back and correct it in a following comment. Lots of my friends are the same – even with casual texts or Facebook posts.

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