Editor’s Notes: 7 Common Communication Errors

The importance of solid business communication is to important to not obsess over. Discover 7 common communication errors.

As an editor, I spend a disproportionate amount of time  pouring over the communication of others.   While one could argue that this makes me hypersensitive to the correct  use of English, it is also true that I get to see the common errors of modern  English repeated again and again.

The importance of solid business communication is too important  to not obsess over.  When I say obsess, I  mean over small details like the grammatical error in the last sentence  (too).  For those who noticed the  incorrect word, my credibility went down a few notches.  For me in particular, poor grammar is a sure  sign of either carelessness or stupidity – two characteristics you do not want  associated with you or your business.   Digital communication means that there are even more avenues where our  messages can get derailed.  Here are some  particularly common communication errors to be on the lookout for.

Wording Errors

This is a personal pet peeve of mine.  The most common that I see are “your” used  instead of “you’re” and “then” used instead of “than.”  Even more alarming is something like “there”  vs. “their” vs. “they’re.”  I consider  these various uses to be more clearly understood, as opposed to immigrate vs.  emigrate.  When I am writing an email or  creating a document, I often find myself turning to a dictionary or typing a  grammar question into Google.  The great  thing about the Internet is that pretty much every question has already been  asked and answered.

Not Spelling Ur Wrds  Completely

Really?  You are so busy  that you do not have time 2 add vowels or write the word instead of a  number?  Gr8, please take your text-speak  to someone else.  This is an immature  form of communication and has no place in business.  Hard to believe but, yes, I have received  articles that have had this problem.  I  am left to assume it was shorthand that the writer forgot to replace.

Spelling Mistakes

In a world where there is a computer essentially always  looking over your shoulder at your spelling, there is no excuse for this error  anymore.  Nothing screams laziness louder  than poor spelling in emails or other documents.

Apologies for Spelling  Mistakes

I used to have the “apology for any typos” written in to the  signature on emails originating from my phone because, as has happened to all  of us, autocorrect forced itself upon me or my fat thumb hit an incorrect  letter a few times.  What I realized,  though, is that this was already setting up a communication scenario that I did  not like.  All my messages came with an  apology baked into them; I was asking my recipients to accept my mistakes and  was overcompensating.  It also suggested  that I was careless and expected others to just deal with my errors, rather  than take the requisite time to fix them myself.

Not Picking Up the  Phone

No, writing is not the only format where communication goes  afoul. Despite my love of the written word, often it does not cut it and,  worse, I feel like we are actually actively avoiding phone use.  I often have to exchange several emails just  to schedule a phone call.  What?!  Therefore, too much writing can be a  communication error in itself.  Something  like the Syn248 business phone system from AT&T is  an invaluable tool for small businesses to facilitate a more direct  communication format.  Even between  writers and editors, a phone call is often the better way to communicate about  our work.

i.e. vs. e.g.

This could have technically been slotted under the first  category, but its importance and frequency earned it its own place on this  list.  These two abbreviations are short  for the Latin phrases id est (“that  is”) and exempli gratia (“for the  sake of example”), respectively.   Therefore, i.e. should be used to say “in other words,” and e.g. should  be used to precede a list of examples.

Excessive  EMPHASIS!!!!!!!

Written communication seems to be much more emphatic these  days.  More and more writers feel the  need to really emphasize what they are saying, perhaps to stand out from the  sea of content and other easily accessible viewpoints… I’m not sure.  But before you CAPITALIZE ALL OF YOUR LETTERS  or resort to excessive exclamation marks, consider more subtle highlighting  techniques such as italics.  One exclamation point is sufficient 99  percent of the time, and if your message actually requires more, two will  suffice.  And while we’re on the topic of  excessive punctuation, an ellipsis is only three periods (…), not more.

You want people to focus on the content of your message and  not the sloppy way in which it was delivered.   Grammar and usage errors are distracting and can actually harm your  reputation.

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