The Importance of ‘Heads Up’ Communication

Are You Conveying the Right Message?

I have a colleague who I’ve been working with for many years, but who cannot spell my name correctly.  I’ve talked with her over the phone hundreds of times, and have emailed back and forth surely in the thousands.  However, each and every email I receive from her contains one spelling variation or another of my name.

To see only if she would recognize the error, I’ve even purposely misspelled her name in a similar fashion on countless occasions.  Despite all this, she never, ever, spells my name correctly.

Granted, this person is very nice, patient, and is always a pleasure to work with.  However, the fact that she consistently spells my name incorrectly, while writing in otherwise good form, begs a couple questions:  Does she consider our working relationship unimportant?  Is she so busy that she doesn’t have the time to look at my email signature for the correct spelling?  If I were a prospective client, would I do business with someone like this?

There are literally hundreds of books on the market that speak to the importance of simple, effective business communication techniques – clearly stating what you need, and outlining the outcome you would like to achieve as a result.

This includes spelling the recipients name and company correctly, as well as proofreading for common misspellings, punctuation, and other mistakes – your versus you’re, knowing where to place commas and periods, not ending sentences in prepositions, etc.

The thing is, this colleague’s seemingly small mistake could potentially be a big one.  Communicating effectively, especially through writing, is one of the most important facets of any business.  According to Merkle’s  “View From the Digital Inbox 2011” (2011) study, “Email is the preferred method of commercial communication by 74% of all online adults.”

This means, when communicating with a colleague or prospective client, it will likely be done by email, and the devil is in the details.  The importance of proofreading your work prior to hitting the Send button can mean the difference between landing a new client, or having them move down the road to a competitor.

What do you think?  What are your experiences?

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4 Responses to “The Importance of ‘Heads Up’ Communication”
  1. 02.24.2012

    People always have trouble with my last name which is why I never use my full name in business anymore. It’s just a matter of making it easier for the people I work with. But at the same time I’ve always thought that it was a good indication that somebody doesn’t think highly of you if they refuse to take the time to spell your name properly in your communications. Having said, I never rule out the fact that it may be an honest mistake.

    • 03.14.2012

      Hi Courtney – Thank you for your response. I think you’re right – I would like to believe this individual and I have a good working relationship, but if they can’t take the time to recognize the correct spelling of my name, maybe I’m deluding myself. Either that, or it’s just not important to them. 🙂

      All the best,


  2. Jerry Knotts

    I read your article and enjoyed your take on your client’s inability to spell your name correctly. That being said, I also noticed in the last line of your article that there is an additional “the” in your sentence.
    “having them move the down the road to a competitor.” FYI

    • 01.24.2013

      Hi Jerry – Thank you for taking the time to comment, and for pointing out the typo!

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