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Don’t blame poor writers in your organisation – help them!
Are you one of those people who judges people by there writing?
(The use of there instead of their and pour and you’re was intentional! Just to see if you noticed or if you “judged”)
I used to be one of those “judging” types – until I realised that it’s better to help writers than to blame them or get angry at them.
The positive side of being a word nerd
As a writing coach and word nerd, I help professionals who are far smarter than I am. These professionals are very good at what they do – they just need help to improve their writing.
Today I saw examples of writing that were riddled with credibility-eroding mistakes.
I wanted to help the organisation – I e-mailed the organisation pointing out the errors and I encouraged the bosses not to get angry with the writer/s.
In my opinion, it’s up to an organisation’s leadership to encourage a culture of good writing and to help those who need to improve.
Many writers are so busy pumping out messages – they think speed is more important than quality.
Other writers (often the younger writers) have never been taught the basics. Younger people are often very good with technology and digital communication. They grew up as “digital natives”.
More mature writers had to learn how to use different technologies. In a similar way – younger writers often have to learn some of the writing basics.
I won’t reveal the source of the writing. I’ll keep it general and anonymous. I am not trying to embarrass the writer or the organisation – but the errors did inspire this post and my message:
It’s up to the organisation to help its writers.
Here are some of the real-life mistakes:
1…superior communciations skills
2… prior experince with creative flair and attenton to detail
Spell check (or a similar system) would have easily caught those errors caused (in my opinion) by rushed writing and missing letters.
Mistakes often occur in clusters. I may be wrong – but from my business writing teaching experience – I bet this copy was written and rushed late in the day when writer fatigue had set it
I thought it was amusing that the errors occurred in the words:
communcIAtions skills and attenTON to detail!
The writer may have been a more mature writer. More mature writers make mistakes too – however from my experience, experienced writers usually take more care in catching mistakes.
Accuracy and proper spelling and grammar were drummed into them at school and in their early working careers.
Now, I still make mistakes – but I like to think I catch and correct more mistakes than slip threw.
I had great teachers and journalism bosses who took the time to point out my mistakes in a discreet and encouraging way – rather than an angry or ridiculing way.
(Yes, the above THREW was a deliberate mistake to see if you noticed it! I’ve seen young writers make this basic mistake with through/threw!)
When I help organisations, I teach a fast and effective quality control system.
WARNING: SPELL CHECK is NOT enough.
Spell check is part of the quality control system – but spell check will not catch errors where writers type real words (just not the right words – e.g. threw/through)
To illustrate – here are other errors I saw today:
1. updating the companies policies – should be the possessive – company’s not the plural companies
2. your ability to analysis – should be the verb analyse rather than the noun analysis
My point is – because analysis and companies are real words, spell check would have not detected the errors.
Maybe you don’t think accurate, mistake-reduced writing is important.
Maybe you are lucky that your audience doesn’t judge your organisation, product, or service by the quality of the writing.
Then again, if you are in an industry where accuracy and attention to detail ARE important, I urge you to encourage a culture where your writers quickly check their copy for mistakes.
…and don’t blame or get angry at your writers – encourage and help them improve.
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