If we work long enough, an embarrassing spelling error on the job will happen to us. We meant to write the word "duck" but "d" sits precariously near "f" on the keyboard. Unfortunately.
Then there's Autocorrect, which is supposed to make our lives easier when it's actually making modern business communication much more difficult, since we must make sure that Autocorrect hasn't made us sound completely incoherent on top of our own spelling mistakes.
FYI: I left the report on top of Bill's filing cabernet. I'm out of the office for the rest of the day, but just massage me if you have any questions. Thanks!
Yes, we'll make sure to massage you if we have any questions, and we wonder if Bill's cabernet is full-bodied with an affinity for oak. Rest assured, we can probably figure out what you meant to say. Every Autocorrect mistake is like a fun, little puzzle for us to solve.
It's not just our spelling that presents problems, however. Misplaced modifiers can be unintentionally hilarious, and our phrasing could use some work here and there. It's all in the details.
Sally removed her tube top and everything spilled out all over the place. Otherwise, everything OK here. We'll have the conference booth up and running shortly!
Er, we probably should have said that Sally was removing the POP TOP FROM HER POSTER STORAGE TUBE stuffed with candies to share with conference booth visitors and a bunch of candies fell on the floor -- or something similarly innocuous and much more concise. For a moment, however, the message recipient undoubtedly is busting up, no pun intended. The phrasing is as important as the detail.
The point is, writing mistakes of all kinds happen, we proceed to hit send, and now we have to figure out a quick course of action for correcting our rather embarrassing error. How do we go about this?
Well, we can either send a quickly follow-up email or text to correct the subtleties of our writing, or simply hope the reader is too tired, or busy, to notice. Most likely, however, the reader will notice, and that's what worries us into a quick follow-up reply. We feel compelled to say something, anything, in response. One more time, only this time with stellar spelling stuffed between two asterisks for emphasis.
**cabinet** and **message**
Why the asterisks? I don't get it, and I see it all the time. It's a curious evolution in corrective language in the Internet age.
But we're here to talk about how to correct the spelling error we've just made! Without further delay, here are five common ways to handle our embarrassing business communication mistakes. Go ahead and pick the one that fits the occasion:
1. Blame Autocorrect. We write the message recipient back to blame Autocorrect, which could very well be the truth these days. A good sense of humor helps, if it's appropriate to the person's personality and the work situation. Everyone has been unknowingly Autocorrected. We can always turf off Autocorrect.
2. Blame the tiny keyboard. This excuse works well for tiny keyboards on smartphones and tablets. The letters on the keyboard are too close together, and well, a mistake happened. BTW, did you get my message about the report on Bill's filing cavimer?
3. Blame multitasking. With employees doing five things at once, this is a very convenient excuse. Plus, it makes us look distracted but busy, which is better than looking distracted but bored, right?
4. Blame the kids, or the pets. Saying, "Sorry, Bugle the Dog pawed the keyboard and I caught his 'changes' too late" works well for random gibberish we've inserted into our messages. Do we need to tell the message recipient about the binder resting on the edge of the computer keyboard that messed up our previous message?
5. Blame ourselves.Ah, yes. We choose to place the blame squarely where it belongs: On ourselves for not paying attention! We spelled it wrong, and now we're going to own it. No excuses, full stop, full speed ahead. Do we get brownie points for honesty?
Do smartphone-enabled employees still care about grammar and spelling, however, or has texting and instant messaging made us much more accepting of each other's writing mistakes? It's one thing if we're job hunting, but our co-worker more than likely understands because it happened to him last week when Autocorrect turned "as" into "ass." The evolution of wireless business writing represents a whole, new sort of business casual.
At the very least, our work-related spelling errors can add a bright spot to a dull work day that will have us chuckling all the way to quibble time. Oops. I mean **quitting** time. But you know what I was trying to say.