We’ve all had them. Those moments in our life we’d rather forget. Many times they happened at school. Sometimes they happen in front of a crowd of people. But what happens if they happen in a professional setting?
I have to admit my most embarrassing professional moments happen when people catch my stupid, little mistakes. I’m very skilled at finding other people’s errors, but when it comes to my own writing, sometimes I read things as I know they should be instead of how they actually are.
For example: A year or so ago, I decided to contact a website to offer my editing services. This particular website is a favorite source of one of my clients for her blog, and I had been on this site multiple times. I was becoming annoyed by its errors in grammar and spelling. My client believes this website is a trusted source, but I was beginning to feel its image wasn’t conveying that.
I wrote a simple three paragraph email, explaining who I was, what I can do and asking if the site had ever considered hiring an editor. Then I clicked send.
Normally, I don’t send emails or submit any work to clients without having my husband, who is employed fulltime as a copy editor, review my work. I am forever grateful to him for his expertise and help.
On this particular day, however, he was already at work and, not wanting to wait until the next day, I self edited. I liked how the email sounded with the exception of one sentence and rewrote it two times.
I don’t directly contact websites often and when I have, I have never received a response. There is no easy way to tell someone you think their website needs a good editing, and I think most website owners are too embarrassed to respond.
This website, though, surprised me by responding in less than a business day. The email’s author did not sign his or her name but did make a point of telling me that he thought I wasn’t editor material and instead needed one myself.
There was one error in my email, in the sentence I had rewritten. In the process of rewriting, I had changed a few words and accidently left in a letter which didn’t belong. Otherwise, the email was flawless. My only mistake was having an extra letter in one word, and this person caught it.
As I read the email, I could feel my face grow hot and my heart rate rise. I felt extremely embarrassed and remained so for several days. How could I make such a careless and simple mistake?
The moral of the story: Writers are often too close to their work to spot their own mistakes. That’s why I have my copy editor husband proofread my work. I do the same for him whenever he does any writing.
The website MBA Online Program put it best when it said, “Even professional writers need editors to ensure that their writing is understandable and conveys its intended meeting. By asking someone to read over your work, you’ll increase the chance that embarrassing errors will be caught and your business communication achieves its intended purpose.”
What is your most embarrassing professional moment?