Librarian by Day Bobbi Newman | I'm not that kind of librarian

On Weakness: Identify, Cope, Accept Mistakes Will Happen, Acknowledge, Correct, Apologize, Learn and Move On.

11.12.2009 · Posted in Blogging, Chit Chat
CC image used courtesy of tv on Flickr

CC image used courtesy of tv on Flickr

Yesterday morning I stood in front of a group of people and told them to admit their weaknesses, which of course has me thinking about mine. I did this during a time management workshop, so the example I be used for myself is how bad my memory is and how I cope with that.  Tuesday another of mine was brought to light on this blog so what better place to admit it than here? (Don’t worry this isn’t going to become a tell-all platform for my over-indulgences in coffee and chocolate. )

I can’t spell. Well clearly I’m capable of writing, but I am not good at spelling. I’m sure my grade school teachers and my Mother would be horrified to hear me publicly admit it. If it weren’t for spell check built into word processors and many web browsers I’d be in real trouble. I often look up words, both in a dictionary and in a thesaurus (ok and Google). It’s also very common for me to leave out words or not notice when a correctly spelled word is not correctly used. No I don’t make the there their they’re error, but I might not notice that I’ve used you instead of your.  I will never be an editor or a proof reader.  I am deeply envious of friends who’s undergraduate degrees are English, their skill and comfort with language is amazing to me.

What should have been a happy occurrence for me, the retweeting of my blog post, instead felt like public humiliation. As soon as I’d posted it to Twitter I saw the error (seeing it in a different context did it I think) I corrected the title (but I couldn’t correct the permalink or the links wouldn’t work, so permanent reminder) Every time someone retweeted it without correcting the You to Your, I cringed.

The point about admitting your weaknesses is it allows you to take steps to correct or compensate for them. When I write for my library I have a proof reader, almost every time. If I’m writing a paper or putting together a presentation, I get a proof reader. When I’m commenting online I try to reread very carefully before hitting publish, it doesn’t always work. When it comes to this blog it’s a little harder to find a proof reader in a timely manner. Instead I try to write all of my posts at least a day before and reread in the morning (I found 7 errors this morning). I also proof read them in the “preview” mode somehow this helps errors stand out. Errors still happen.

What do I do when I still make a mistake? I cringe, acknowledge it, correct it immediately, hope no one thinks less for me for it, vow to do better next time and move on.  It also seems to make me more tolerant of this type of mistake in others (misspell my name and it’s a whole different story). I think the correct way to handle them is to politely and kindly point them out, allow them to be corrected and move on. The end.

So that’s my approach: identify your weaknesses, cope with it, accept mistakes will happen anyway, acknowledge them when they do, correct them, apologize if necessary, learn from what happened (just because you acknowledge doesn’t mean you stop trying to improve) and move on.

What is your approach? We all have weaknesses, what are yours? How do you handle them?

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7 Responses to “On Weakness: Identify, Cope, Accept Mistakes Will Happen, Acknowledge, Correct, Apologize, Learn and Move On.”

  1. Well, first of all, Bobbi, not being a gifted proofreader isn’t all that bad. Don’t be too hard on yourself! ;) I do think the question of how we acknowledge and respond to our weaknesses is an important one.

    It is all too common that I hear someone explaining to others that we shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes; however, I often see these same people acting less than understanding when someone does make a mistake. This kind of environment makes it difficult to readily admit weakness, even to ourselves. I have seen, though, the effect of openly accepting accountability for one’s actions. I trust that person more.

    Perhaps it is the same with our own weaknesses. If we confront ourselves with the knowledge that they exist, accept them, and plan to improve, we ought to trust ourselves a little more.

    • Chris I agree I’ve seen people who refused to admit they made a mistake even when everyone else knew it and I’ve seen someone been treated poorly when they did make a mistake. I don’t know if saying yes I made it, I’ll fix it, I’m sorry would make a difference. Some people just enjoy the suffering of others.

  2. Ah the irony – I am an editor and proofer and I can’t spell to save my life. I carry some kind of dictionary with me at all times. You are right about the different forms and when I need to proof something I’ve written change to a rpinted copy or sometimes even a different font. As for weaknesses I think part of the issue is recognising our true failings. We often believe we are bad at things we are quite good at or that things we couldn’t do at 20 we still can’t do at 40.

  3. Bobbi, I have the same weakness. I’ve explored the reasons behind it as a way of trying to fix it. And it has come to light that that if I ‘fixed’ my spelling, it would be at the expense of some of my strengths. I can’t spell because of how I see things. How I see things enables me to speed read and to model things in 3D in my head. Yes, I have a weakness, but that weakness is also a strength. So how I cope with my weakness is by acknowledging my strength.

  4. I do that too. Tweet something or post in on the library facebook page, egads! as myself and/or with a misspelling then have to delete it and fix it. I just did that today and it even has the spell correction red lines but so frequently I miss it until it’s already gone. I also tend to read too quickly and tend to try to do /think about too many things at once – so I’m probably one of the people who retweeted your tweet and didn’t even notice the error. So sorry!

    It is so hard to admit a weakness because we so frequently tend to view them as flaws. They do make life interesting though! I’m sure my family and colleagues would be totally berefit and morose without my mishaps to laugh at ;)

    • When they happen here, on this blog, I feel like they keep me humble. Its hard to get too full of yourself when you’re regularly making typos lol I just correct them and move on. But when they happen other places I am definitely embarrassed. Either way though I’d prefer someone politely point them out.

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