There were a lot of great responses to this question on GovLoop’s LinkedIn group. Here are some of them:
Jaime Gracia, PMP, CFCM • I have to admit it is one of my pet peeves, when I do not sufficiently QA written correspondence and find an error after the fact. These types of errors will always happen, even in the age of auto-correct, spelling and grammar checks, etc.
However, persistent issues with grammar and spelling, IMHO, seemingly demonstrate a lack of attention to detail, or perhaps issues with professionalism and competence. Putting aside any type of learning disability or like issues, I do judge people by the written word. Spell check people
Scott Morris – CCIEx4, JNCIE-SP, JNCIE-ER, CCDE • Agreed. When there are plenty of tools available to assist, then it has nothing to do with mere skill level.
What irritates me the most is when people at higher levels (presumed higher competence) send information to customers with blatant errors. And people who have blatant errors on their resumes.
In a forum, I’m more forgiving (like here where there is no inherent spelling/grammar check). But I do have to admit that the more errors, or incorrect word choices (like someone thinking they are cool enough to use “moot” in a sentence but use “mute” instead!) will lead me to think less of their ability to contribute.
I try to keep an open mind, but sometimes it’s difficult! 🙂
Eric W. Logan • Many “Senior Level” people have had these communication problems historically, however in the distant past, these people had secretaries who were responsible for the final output. Add to this, that the total amount of correspondence was low compared to today’s deluge of communications, and it is not surprising that some people are having difficulty getting over this raised bar for written communications. Finally, “shorthand” in written communications is not only tolerated, but actually celebrated as “cool” in some forms. I’m not suggesting this as an excuse for sloppy correspondence, but we should recognize the headwinds against the standards we desire to maintain.
Janina Harrison • I agree with Eric about the change in communication. Now that people are empowered to do their own communication and not necessarily have a secretary to review, they need to step up. I know spelling took a dive when phonics was removed from the classroom. I can usually tell someones age by their ability to spell. People 58-59 or younger seem to have trouble.
Help yourself, get a course/program that starts with the simplest spelling and grammer concepts and re-educate. I did not realize how much I forgot until I started teaching English as a Second Language. It made me more aware of my shortcomings.
My pet peeves? Using have or has with every verb. My father taught English and journalism. His saying, “All verbs have a past tense, use it. Is, was, were, be, being, been, you don’t want to be a has been. Have, had, has, have very few appropriate times to use with other verbs.”
Everyone trying to kill the word use by using utilize. I was taught that you use utilize when you are talking about the utility of something. The rest of the time it is ‘use’.
Getting emails that look like text messages. OK if you are using instant messaging, but formal emails which might be considered FOIA or are kept as public record should be appropriate format and content.
English is a living language. New words are added to the dictionary regularly and some that fall out of use are removed. I do think we need to keep some basic standards in place for communication.
Jo Laurie Penrose • Take an English class. Use spell check and then proofread your document yourself. Then, get another pair of eyes on your document. Grammar and syntax are important, also. Use a grammar handbook (a hardback book), not software. What’s up with using amongst and whilst? It’s among and while. Text mail abbreviations should be banned for business e-mail and paper correspondence. Writing constantly is an excellent method of becoming aware of spelling and grammar!