I almost always cringe when I find a typo or grammar error…particularly in my own work. I’ll beat up on myself for a few minutes and then usually rationalize my way into a low-grade, to-err-is-human sense of irritated acceptance.
Part of my cringe is for my clients. They hate typos, too. That’s because I believe they know or fear that their customers hate (or find delight) in typos and will judge my typo-ed client as somehow deficient.
In other words, mine is a trickle-down, perfectionist cringe.
So, I apologize to my clients about my typos. I tell them and myself, “I’ll really be more careful. Next time.”
Turns out that this is a neurological set up. That no matter how much care I exercise, the chances that my eyes and brain will produce an error-free document are very poor…especially if it’s a big document.
A recent article in the Journal of Current Biology – reported on National Public Radio – shows that there’s plenty of science to support this. It seems that we’re wired to miss things such as the weapons that some people carry with them through airport security. Our neuro-systems apparently can handle just so much vigilance until something slips through the cracks. It’s called Cognitive Impenetrability.
Or, as Harvard prof Jeremy Wolfe said, “…if you don’t find it often, you often don’t find it.”
Anyway, I feel slightly vindicated. I now know that the more I look for an out-of-place comma or some other needle in a haystack, the less likely I am to find it.
So, I exercise reasonable care instead. I read and re-read. I use spell check, the find function and anything else my computer can throw at it. I even hire back-up proofreaders.
When (not if) I make a mistake, I own up to it to my client. And, I see how I can make it right.
I’ve heard that clients appreciate, reward and trust this brand of honesty more than they do claims of perfection from their vendors. That’s the kind of client I want…and want to be.