Do you e-mail websites when something isn’t working or when you see a typo? Or are you a site owner that receives corrective e-mails? Being on both sides, I’ll share with you some of my experiences.
The Proper Way to Handle Corrections
I receive e-mails from concerned onliners about how a friend or family member gets mad at them or calls them rude if they make the suggestion that some e-mail etiquette is in order. None of us like being told we are doing something wrong. The key is how the suggestion of considering e-mail etiquette is offered. How your correct others, the words you choose and the tone in which you do it matters.
I have a bunch of websites and I do tons of writing that requires I read, reread, and read again. Without a doubt I can go back to things I have written some time later and find errors that I missed. It’s crazy! There have been times where blatant and obvious mistakes have made me wonder if the site was hacked. But I know it wasn’t… Just me being to busy or not doing a thorough job.
What has happened is a kind soul ends up at my website. They have experienced the “Invisible Error Syndrome” too, and they take the time to send me an e-mail to let me know so that I can make the appropriate corrections. They are kind and helpful in their tone. That is the approach I use on the rare occasions that I e-mail site owners.
Always Respond with Courtesy
For the 9 out of 10 corrections sent with genuine concern in wanting to help, I am so very grateful. However, there are those who feel the need to correct me as though I am a 5 year old that needs scolding.
You see this everywhere online as folks confidently hide behind these screens. Those who have to berate others publicly while conveniently touting their education, degrees and accomplishments to justify their narcissistic castigation. Then there are others who are plain old rude. You just know they wouldn’t say those things, in that way, if you were face-to-face.
Fine — either way I have been given the opportunity to learn something and correct my errors.
So, back to how I handle these “corrections.” For those who e-mail me privately, I sincerely thank them and offer my humble apologies for missing it in the first place. See I take corrections in stride — I am comfortable with the fact I am not perfect. I know I make mistakes and can get sidetracked.
If someone takes the time to help me out, regardless of tone or possible ulterior motive, the result is the same. They have helped me to make my site or article better.
But for those who felt the need to rake me over the coals via comments on my blog (back in the day when comments were open — that’s another story) or on social media, in essence publicly flogging me, I made the correction then responded with kindness and gratitude. For some that made them even nastier.
That’s when I realized correcting my mistakes had nothing to do with me.
Corrections On and Off-line
After all these years I’ve come to the conclusion that folks who correct others in a condescending manner are not really interested in receiving a response. They just wanted a self-important “look at me” moment. Sort of describes social media overall, right?
That’s why it is important in how you respond back. And how you offer corrections to others. Both will speak to who you are, what type of person you want to be seen as. To me that’s more important than the egregious error that I may have made.
If it is pointed out to you in a kind manner that you need to work on your e-mail skills, or that you did something wrong online, don’t get offended and huffy. Promptly and sincerely thank the person who brought the issue to your attention.
Look at it this way… You have been given the opportunity to learn something new and to improve your skills. Then, go about correcting the situation and make efforts in the appropriate areas to resolve it for the long haul.
If you find someone else needs help with e-mail etiquette, don’t belittle them by getting up on your soap box. Work to avoid making them feel stupid by how you suggest that they learn more on the subject. If you cannot make corrections or suggestions with grace and kindness; then don’t bother.
Be Better Than That
I’ve never understood why some have to be intentionally rude or condescending when pointing out others mistakes. Nor do I understand why some folks react so negatively when being kindly corrected.
By helping others learn we are all doing a service to online community by making this environment one that is enjoyable for all to participate. Because we are all on the same page — the human page.
Don’t get mad if you do not know everything yet. Never rest on your laurels and think that you do. And don’t kill the messenger if someone points something out to you that can improve your communications.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.