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Are You Wearing Clean Underwear?

By Bonnie Myhrum

Did your mom tell you to be sure to wear clean underwear in case you were in an accident? Mine did. I guess she was afraid that I would be judged by the condition of my underwear. Most of us probably won’t be judged on the condition of our underwear, because under normal conditions no one can see it (this is not taking into consideration the current trend of wearing underwear as outerwear), but there are many things that we mail, e-mail, publish, put on the Web and/or hand out that we want people to see and on which we will be judged.

OK. Here’s the thing. You are a poet--an artist--a writer. For the most part, you represent yourself, not a company. You are your own best marketing tool. You are your own advertisement. You are responsible for creating the impression that your current and potential adoring public has of you. Do you want these folks to think that you don’t care about how you present yourself--that you aren’t a professional?

In the current "all-technology, all the time" world of communication, it has become so easy to be easy. The use of text- and instant-messaging has created a whole new set of abbreviations for many commonly used words and someone we’ve met online might tell us he’s a businessman selling cell phones when she really is a scam artist. To those who know us via e-mail and the Internet, we are only what we appear to be. u can ruin you’re reputation w/1 mistak. If you write e-mails as if you don’t have time to use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation, you are showing disrespect to your reader (you imply that he or she is not important enough for you to take the time to check your composition) as well as to yourself (you imply that you are not intelligent enough to check your composition).

Writing is not just what you do--it is who you are. You should do your best at all times, so your writing should reflect that you are doing your best, all the time. How can you not have the time to do the best that you can do?

Patricia Fry says she is surprised at how many muddy writers there are out there. Are you one of them? Do you read what you have written? Have you ever looked at your "sent" mailbox and wondered what you were talking about when you read an e-mail that you wrote a couple of months ago?

When you’re e-mailing, it’s important to remember that, because you are not face-to-face, your words and punctuation are the only clues your reader can use to understand what you are trying to say. You can easily be misunderstood in an e-mail--the recipient might think you are angry just because of the exclamation point at the end of your sentence. That person can’t hear your voice or see your body language--clues we constantly use when we are talking with someone.

The next time you send an e-mail, take a minute to proofread it and correct the errors you may have made. You have as much time as everyone else--use it to your advantage. Don’t destroy your professional credibility by being "too busy" to wear clean underwear.

–Bonnie Myhrum is owner of Professional Secretary, LLC. As P.S., she provides secretarial and administrative support services to the owners of small businesses and to individuals. Some clients need a customer database created from lists of names and stacks of business cards; others require transcription of dictation, interviews or voicemail. Still others have needed her to design flyers and brochures. Several of her clients have hired her to type manuscripts, which she has subsequently proofread and edited. You can find her ad in Book Services,



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