Im not much for preachy columns or whiny ones, for that matter.
But with my eldest daughter going through a cry-and-moan-at-anything-that-displeases-me phase, I think that urge to vocalize discontent may have rubbed off on me. Get ready; youre going to learn about my three biggest pet peeves in the workplace.
Say-nothing phone messages.
Few things annoy me more than callers who only leave their name, phone number and a message to Call me back. Yeah, Ill get right on that.
I like to be prepared when I return phone calls and I can only do that if I know why a person is calling. Theres no risk of a detailed message getting butchered by a busy receptionist when the message is being recorded on voice mail. And if you must leave your message with a human being (heaven forbid), a simple two or three word indication of what the call is about shouldnt pose a problem for the message-taker.
Your calls will be returned much sooner if you display the simple courtesy of telling people why you want to speak with them. Trust me on this.
Basic grammar and spelling mistakes.
I cringe whenever I see a misspelled word or poorly constructed sentence in business correspondence. Sure, Im an editor, but others notice such blunders, too. And bungled language and clerical errors make you look, at best, sloppy and, at worst, ignorant.
The most common mistake I see in corporate brochures, letters and signs is the misuse of the apostrophe s. Making a word plural does not require an apostrophe even if the word is an abbreviation and, therefore, written in all capitals. Its CDs, not CDs. Its photos, not photos.
Silly examples? Hardly. The first was taken from a sign at a local book store. The second, from a photo envelope distributed to customers of a Columbus-based camera shop. Better watch yourselves out there.
Relying on computerized spelling- and grammar-check programs wont necessarily solve this problem, either. If Id let Microsoft Word alone proof this months cover story on SBA award winner Paula Innis, for instance, Business Person wouldve been BusinessPerson and two sisters wouldve been two sisters.
Worse yet, what do you think Associate Editor Joan Slattery Wall wouldve thought about being referred to as Joan Slithery Wall? Clearly, putting blind faith in such programs can be disastrous.
Computer virus warnings.
When the subject line on an e-mail says anything about a virus warning, I wont even open it. It goes right in the trash. Im just so sick of people forwarding warnings of devastating viruses they havent checked out.
This virus will wipe out your entire neighborhood; DONT open it!! Enough already. If you dont recognize the sender, dont open the attachment. And if you do recognize the sender, but the subject line starts with FW:, chances are its junk anyway, so toss it. How hard is that?
Now do me a favor and take me off your paranoia distribution list. I dont have time for that nonsense. After all, Ive got a whole stack of say nothing phone messages to return.
Nancy Byron (firstname.lastname@example.org) is editor of SBN Columbus.