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Sean X Headshot

The Mobile Signature: 'Please excsue typoo's'

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NOTE This is an iPhone email. The iPhone keyboard is, to say the least, persnickety. Since I have neither the thumbs of a newborn, nor the texting prowess of a 13-year-old, please excuse the occasional spelling mistake.

And so reads my iPhone signature line. Why should this offend anyone? And what harm is it alerting someone of this possibility? Ah, therein lies the trap. There are those who, for lack of a better description, are "stuck." Stuck in old ways of thinking, old ways of communicating.

Their desire for absolute precision in spelling is often the product of their wish to separate, and position themselves as "better than." Even including such a statement at the end of your mobile emails can position you in the "other" category for them -- as if you are trying to excuse yourself for being lazy.

Proper business is conducted this way young man. Tsk... tsk shakes the index finger of your English teacher.

That strong desire for things to be a certain, unchanging way creates a sense of calm for some. The way we judge others often has to do with our ability to adapt to change, for those judgments and perceptions are just soft-coded by societal norms; what is 'expected.' Hmm... I wonder if this issue falls along political lines? Alas, I digress.

But if typos do not change the nature or context of the communication, then what is the harm? Is it still "proper" English? For in the end how does it serve us to judge the typo? If you have a more informal relationship, is it different than if you are reaching out for the first time? Yes. Why? External judgments. Over time, as respect is gained, judgments are reduced as the perceptive mental image of a person is more solidified in the recipient.

Many people have fear-states of what others think of them. I am not burdened with such fears, and because I have neither the thumbs of a newborn, nor the texting prowess of a teenager, I am placing speed and efficiency over absolute precision and my own ego.

My overall priority is to solve problems, make businesses more efficient and profitable, and protect their brands. And mobile devices were designed for expediency.

However, it is one thing to know that people object to anything but perfect spelling, even if it did not change the context, and another to change their behavior. That will not happen, so use one of these signature statements at the end of your emails with caution. For if you believe that your statement would offend people, and you would judge them for not hiring you, then it is you who is stuck in your own ego, manifesting as arrogance.

I am a communication purist, in that I believe the most important aspect of communication is understanding by the recipient, not precision in its delivery. However, you must ask yourself. How does a signature line serve me? It too is to provide communication. So be careful.

Why do so many people include such "typo prefaced" statements in their mobile signatures? Efficiency. Even the best mobile devices were not built for typing; they were designed for... well, not typing. We did not evolve with thumbs designed to type on 3-inch keyboards, so inevitably we have to make a choice. Do we spend onerous amounts of time correcting both the typos generated by our clumsy thumbs, and the spelling mistakes generated by predictive typing; or do we choose efficiency over precision?

For me, it is all about origination, and intent.

My solution, if it were available to me, would be to bifurcate my signature line on mobile devices -- different for replies, and for emails I originate. Those I originate do not have the disclosure, as I deem that communication to be more formal. However, due to the volume of email I receive I deem that if you contacted me, that expediency trumps precision. However, that solution is not available to me because in the myopic wisdom of email on an iPhone you can have but one signature. So I choose for that signature to communicate one thing.

A typo is not a spelling mistake; it is a typing mistake. That semantic point is important. I do care. I can spell. But seriously, would you rather have me communicate in a timely manner? or not at all?

Due to the significant difficulty some of us have with the small keyboards, I for one had a stroke and lost my fine motor control years ago, it is difficult and frustrating for us to type on them.

If I am on a mobile device, the time/benefit of the communication is skewed towards not fixing a typo. Mobile by its very nature is meant for speed and convenience, and thus to spend the onerous amount of time fixing spelling that does not make the communication more precise, defeats responding via mobile. It only serves my own ego, and subsequent fear-state of what people would think of me. As long as the spelling mistake does not change the context, I ignore it.... or at least I TRY to.

Whichever side you choose, it is a pre-emptive strike. You are informing your audience that yes, you do understand that there may be typos in your message, and that you can spell, but getting caught up in the "ego of communication" is how to completely paralyze a communication stream.

I choose communication and efficiency over ego and pride -- and so should you.

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