Communication Errors

September 24, 2010 No Comments

Hundreds of years ago, errors in communication could have ended the world, specific species — and started many wars.

We have discovered how a communication error led a whole tribe to get up and leave immediately. And that tribe may had never gone back because they feared the worst.

Beyond communication among people, communication is vital for the existence of business, products and services.

People only know about your business, products or services from what they hear, see or are told by others. And that can be a complex proposition due to their prior experiences — who they hear the information from and what they feel when they hear it.

“To err or not to err?” That is a good question.

We all know that errors are inevitable. At the same time, when I was first in the communication business, I used to get upset when I made an error. Now I know it’s not the end of the world when approached correctly. It can be simple to get some of these bug-a-boos out of the way.

My advice (with more to come in the future):

  • Have a professional proof your writing and design work prior to showing, presenting, posting, emailing, programming or printing.
  • State your error and get over it.
  • Turn the negative into a positive, by learning from it and fixing it as best you can.
  • Let your clients know early on that mistakes will happen and you will do the best you can to keep them at bay.

Luckily, today most communication errors are minor. In that sense, they are typos or mis-communicated information. And we have the means to fix them. In my opinion, they should be fixed in the most positive way they can be. For example, yesterday, I wrote an email for a client that had an error in the coupon. Even though the client and proofers checked the email before it went out, the error got overlooked. I quickly sent out a new email indicating the error and fixed it with the corrected coupon. And to my surprise, I have received multiple emails from their customers thanking me for fixing and communicating to them.

My favorite communication error right now is one that is on a billboard in Portland, Oregon. The way the designer specifically, or not so specifically, layed out the headline makes it read wrong. It currently promotes the word “COMPANY NAME IS PAIN” as well as saying that they offer “FREE” services. Once I get in touch with them, I’ll post a photo of their error (in my opinion) so it can go down in history.

So my question to you as communicators: How do you handle your errors? Do you move on and ignore them? Do you let them frustrate and fail you? Do you fix them in a positive manner that is good for you and your business?

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