Never, never, never, never give up on spelling and grammar

The extent to which we are all able to communicate successfully depends on the extent to which we have credibility with whom we are communicating. A good illustration of this took place when Winston Churchill was asked to speak at his old school, Harrow.

This took place soon after the German bombing raids on London had come to an end and cautious optimism was replacing the horrors of the blitzkrieg. With the audience of 900 boys waiting expectantly, he raised himself slowly and pensively made his way to the lectern. Before saying a word he paused to look into the sea of young faces looking up at him as if he was gauging the extent to which they were ready to receive his message. After what was probably 10 seconds he then uttered the words with dramatic punctuated pauses “Never – never – never – never — Give up” and then with what some thought to be the beginnings of a wry smile, took his seat again. When the staff and students realised that this was the total message the applause that followed, continued for an estimated 6 minutes. When asked to share their memories of this speech, many of the then13-18 year olds in the audience that day, stated 50 years later that this was the single most moving speech they’d ever heard and the message had influenced them deeply throughout their lives.

Had the Harrow headmaster delivered the same words that morning it is reasonable to assume they would not have had anything close to the same impact, simply because in England in October 1941 no one could match the credibility of Winston Churchill.

So basic words have heightened impact when they are delivered by an individual with credibility. Unfortunately the converse is equally true, basic words, poorly communicated will have a negative impact, even on individuals that normally have high levels of credibility. In Zestlife so much of our communication takes place by email and where you allow poor grammar and spelling to occur you are eroding your personal credibility and ultimately your own success.

Let’s look at examples of poor written grammar and spelling and the impact it has on those that read them.

Clearly, this man intends his message to intimidate but his typo probably causes the reader to snigger self-righteously. If his intention is to say I’m super mean, its failed miserably as it shouts out, I’m super thick. That said it’s probably not a classic idea to jeer at his stupidity.


Given the tragic and ironic connection between the probable lack of schooling and the road worker’s simple spelling mistake this example is cause for despair.

Communication that is littered with mistakes simply spells failure, because the message that is ultimately conveyed is one of carelessness or incompetence. It causes the very people whose trust we would like to earn, to focus on errors rather than paying attention to the message. The BBC reported that in a test to measure the financial impact of poor communication, sales on e-commerce sites in the UK where 1 or more spelling mistakes occurred, had less than half the sales volumes of those that were error free

The solution is that if you are unsure please ask someone in the office to check your emails before sending.

And if your writing is absolutely beyond redemption, please, for the love of Zestlife, rather abandon the use of email completely and pick up the phone and use some of the charm that grammar and spelling sticklers usually lack and build your credibility in this manner.

PS
Familiarising yourself with the rules of grammar and developing the habit of rereading what you’ve written will ensure your credibility is not unnecessarily sapped which should be registered directly and proportionately in increased success in attracting new clients. However just because you’ve build these it is never going to be acceptable to start correcting the emails you receive from clients, friends, family and colleagues. This would just be bad manners and irritating which can also be the cause of massive erosion to your credibility, perhaps more on benefits of good manners next time.

Any spelling or grammatical errors above are intentional and are featured for effect.