Several people have told me that, because of what I do for a living, they’ve worried that I’d be scrutinizing for spelling or grammar errors in their e-mails.  This has sometimes made them reluctant to write me.

Sigh, it’s junior school all over again…driving away friends because I’m a browner.

Seriously though, I find it works the opposite way, too: when it’s your job to help people improve their writing, you then have to be vigilant that you constantly demonstrate your skill in how you compose your own e-mails, proposals and other written communication.

It’s not like selling a type of boat, where even if the client thinks that you have a strange communication style, they’ll probably not care as long as they know it’s the boat they want and that they can get it from you at a fair price.

As a writer, you have countless opportunities to demonstrate your skill in almost everything you do with your client. But you also have countless opportunities to lose credibility — have a few off days, and you can easily start to look like you’ve some cracks in your canoe.

I’m still humbled by the time I gave a talk about clear communication, and later got feedback from several people saying that I’d spoken too quickly with too sharp a tone. Committing the errors that you ask your clients to remedy in their work doesn’t create much credibility.

These days I can only hope that I’m on my game most of the time. Then those relatively fewer times where I reveal my flawed humanity won’t make much of a dent in an otherwise shining impression.


(Oh, and BTW, I do notice grammar and spelling errors, but unless they’re in something created for the public, I try not to judge the writer who made them.

Not everyone’s being paid to be as crazy-picky about this stuff as I am. And the grammar and spelling mountain is not the one I plan to die on. Context is everything, and as long as they got message across the way they wanted to, who am I to judge?! )