Apologies in advance, not a marketing post, just a rant or a musing with some questions for others that deal with it to. Its been an interesting month plus lately and I think perhaps some things have getting under my skin more then others, but in this case it raised an interesting question about how others with dyslexia deal with comments and situations associated with it.
Yesterday I wrote a brief blog post about marketing on twitter for inns and was a bit floored by a comment I got on the post.
“Suggestion: spell check. It’s so disappointing to try to read something you’re interested in, only to be sidetracked by misspellings and bad grammar. I like your posts, but remember, the only contact I have with you is through your writing. Poor attention to your presentation is like showing up at an event with your hair uncombed, a dirty sweatshirt and mis-matched socks.”
I almost deleted the email but decided to publish as I believe it’s important to be open & frank about these things and decided instead to post a response. “Dear James, thank you for the comment, if you would like to spell-check/grammar check my posts it would be appreciated. I have dyslexia, something I don’t generally share with people and spell/grammar check does not always catch things that should be caught. I do try to read and reread things several times prior to publishing, but “reading” something to fix is not so easy as it “looks”.”
I know I am not the spiffiest of writers, never have been and being dyslexic, probably never will be, until some day, down the road, Skynet will come and reconfigure my brain and I can tell left from right easily. I write much like I talk in person, never much felt the urge or inclination to write much until about a year ago and am still learning as I go along and if I “suck” at writing, so be it. My real feeling is, if you don’t like it, go elsewhere, there are plenty of other blogs to read out there. Sadly I can’t change the mismatched socks part, its part of my neural wiring.
The comment though, raises an interesting quandary and one I have never been “challenged” on before. I’ve written many articles, not just for my blog but for other sites, proofread many things others have sent me, been published in several places but have never been told before that my writing style (if you can call it that) sucked.
It wasn’t discovered I had dyslexia until I was in college, it explained why I disliked school so much prior and did very poorly in math amongst other things. Break out the “Poor baby” here. No thanks very much.
Things do slip by me that spell-check and generally grammar checker don’t catch. Occasionally I’ll catch an email back to me from someone and I re-read what I wrote and there are some “the thes” or “they theys” or words backwards or the occasional channeling of my mentor Yoda, but not much I can do about them. Considering many of the documents I get sent on a weekly basis are misspelled with bad grammar as well, it makes me wonder if more people deal with this then previously suspected or perhaps they are just lazy.
Very, very occasionally something comes up where I have to explain or apologize that I have dyslexia, “much apologies for the duplicate words or what have you, will fix pronto.” I occasionally get the “well you should have said something”. Like I should have warned them in advance that I have a “disability”? I always feel vaguely embarrassed the few times I have had to actually say something about it.
I spent 20 years cooking professionally and did quite well at it, I have a thriving business I started almost 8 years ago. Should I put in bold red flashing letters at the top of every blog post and on my website: “Apologies in advance for spelling and grammatical mistakes, but I have a ‘gasp’ disability.” “Oh forgive me please, I have need of a little ego stroking because I’m functioning a few gears lose of a motor?” Can you sense the sarcasm here?
So this raises the question, I don’t think I have a disability, although technically I have one, I am not proud of it but nor does it disturb me overly much and it’s not something I generally even think about. Should I be using this somehow to garner something from it? Should I even care what someone I have no idea if its even a real person thinks? Should I be wearing a big red D on my sweater to identify the fact I am dyslexic?
I could mention here the fact (as an aside) that posting something like that on someone’s blog post was not very nice. Yes I could have deleted it but then I would always wonder if this was a business person that could be a potential client and if this is what he really thinks of me then I’m not very happy about it.
I am a big fan of constructive criticism but I don’t think telling someone that “the only contact I have with you is through your writing” is very polite or quite frankly constructive, because no, you don’t know me or anything about me. So presuming to tell me that I am apparently not very well educated (which is what I got out of the comment) is kind of like saying, “Dude, you ran the mile in 20 minutes? You should have run faster!” (insert the fact that the runner only has one leg and a crutch.) Should I have put somewhere in my bio, “Hey everyone, I’m dyslexic? Pity me, poor me, I so need a crutch as an excuse when I screw up?” Snark!
My questions I guess behind all of this verbal diarrhea, is primarily for others that suffer from dyslexia and of course I am very interested in what “normal” (yes that was sarcastic) people have to say about it as well.
- How do you or have you responded to a comment like the one I received?
- How do others with dyslexia respond to things like this?
- Do others with dyslexia make a point of telling people? And why? Or why not?
- If you knew someone had dyslexia prior to working with them would it change how you viewed them as a person or their work?
- Did Charles Schwab and Steve Jobs have to use it as an excuse? or even tell people about it? Did it really matter in the long run?
P.S. I do very much appreciate the catches and suggestions from readers when I get the occasional DM or email about mistakes and I do try to fix them, so please keep them coming, as they do occasionally come in. I am appreciative of the fact that people do tell me NICELY when I’ve made a mistake.