We all make mistakes when writing. Sometimes these mistakes even make their way into final publications, presentations, blog posts or emails. When you find an error in a colleague’s writing project, treat them the way you would like to be treated by correcting them kindly. The writing will improve, as will your relationship!
Here are a few simple tips for pointing out mistakes with kindness:
- If the writing can be updated (such as with a blog post or powerpoint presentation), tell the writer about the mistake as quickly as possible, so they avoid public embarrassment. If the writing can’t be updated (such as a printed brochure), tell the writer to keep the change in mind for future printings.
- Approach the writer privately, either in person or via email, never through a public message board.
- Describe everything that the writer got right in detail. For example, describe how the presentation inspired you to do something new or how you appreciate the blog’s creativity.
- Be specific when pointing out the error.
- Acknowledge their efforts in writing the document.
All of these steps help maintain the writer’s self-esteem, fix an error and–most importantly–bolster your professional relationship with a kind, sincere discussion.
Here’s an example of a kind correction:
Subject: Lone mistake in “Innovating Production” presentation
Congratulations on a wonderful presentation! The entire group was impressed by how you organized the issue so intuitively and gave us lots of practical tips for improving–and rewarding–innovative performance. I want to point out a typo I found on slide 10: aberrant is misspelled. “We must encourage abberant thinking and experimentation” should read, “We must encourage aberrant thinking and experimentation.”
A super small mistake! Congrats, again, on this success–your hard work paid off. We’re looking forward to learning more from you in future presentations.
Do you have any examples of a kind correction? Do you associates correct mistakes kindly? I’d love other examples, so please pass along your experiences!