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If You See Something, Say Something


Growing up, I definitely got the message that it was possible to know everything.


My dad was a member of Mensa. Never heard of it? Neither had I. It’s an IQ society open to people who score in the 98th percentile or higher on an approved intelligence test.


My IQ is high enough to know it’s not worth my taking the test.


But my dad tested in. Which is amazing. And something he was super proud of. As well he should have been.


My brother was on the academic team in high school. You know, the people who know tons of random facts and just might have a future as contestants on Jeopardy?


And then there was me.


I was clever and witty. And loud.


I also developed a keen attention to detail. I could spot a grammatical error a mile away. I loved diagraming sentences.


Maybe I thought if I could spot all that was wrong in the world outside of me, no one would spot the things that were wrong inside of me. Keep the focus on other’s mistakes. No one notices mine.


When someone did notice a mistake of mine, and pointed it out, it struck me to the core of my identity. It was as if they pulled off my veil of perfection, blew a raspberry in my face, and exposed me as a fraud.


The older I get, the more I realize everyone makes mistakes. It’s not just a cute phrase someone came up with to make their child feel better. It’s just reality.


While it still doesn’t feel great to have my shortcomings exposed, wouldn’t I rather know than not know?

If I have a blind spot that everyone else can see, what good does it do me if no one says anything?


But there is a tension in the world when it comes to pointing out mistakes. I don’t think it feels good to anyone. So it’s a risk to point something out. You have to weigh the cost.


Within the first few months of seeing a chiropractor, I had to fill out some paperwork. There was a clear error in wording on the document.

I didn’t know the chiropractor very well. From everything I’d seen about the way she ran her office and trained her staff, she would want to know. She would want to correct the error.


But what if I was wrong?


If I were in her shoes, I would want to know. I wouldn’t want paperwork representing my work to have mistakes in it.


But not everyone is like me in that way.


I chose not to say anything.


When I first started this blog, I did a month of haikus. The first haiku had a mistake in it. And no one told me!


The haiku structure is 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables. And the very first post was wrong!


It’s possible those who read it didn’t know the structure. Or didn’t count the syllables.


As a reader, I would have counted the syllables!


Thankfully I noticed the error. And corrected it.


I have been going back to my early blog posts and creating an audio version for the podcast. In reading the posts out loud, I catch errors I missed before posting the text.


The most glaring mistake was in a post titled Creativity Sparks Creativity. At the end of the first paragraph, I wrote:


Creative often sparks creativity.


Oops! But no one told me.


It’s possible their brains autocorrected it, and they didn’t notice.


A few weeks ago, my husband told me the audio on one of my posts repeated at the end.


Doh!


I fixed it and uploaded the corrected audio file. Total error on my end.


I was so thankful he told me. How many other people had listened? Had they noticed?


Where once upon a time, I might have felt attacked or exposed by noticing or being told about these mistakes, I found myself thankful for the insight and ability to correct them.


I won’t say these came without a twinge of wishing there hadn’t been a mistake in the first place. But ultimately I’d rather know about the mistake so I can correct it than to have it hanging out in the world without my knowing.


A week after my husband revealed the audio repeat, I noticed an error on a friend’s LinkedIn page. It was supposed to say that she could “meet the needs of your clients.”


However, it actually said she could “meet the needs of you clients.”

So what was I to do?

In NYC, the MTA has a saying: If you see something, say something.


If this were my LinkedIn page, I would want to know.


I took a risk.

I took a screenshot, circled the error, and sent her a text saying, “I was reading your blurb and saw you were missing an R.”


Her response?


“You da best.”


Whew!

I recently received an email about an upcoming event that listed the wrong date. I knew the sender and took a chance.


“This Saturday is the 7th. I think most people already have it on their calendars, but an 8 went all rogue and jumped into your email!”


Her response?


“Thank you for catching that!!!”


I will acknowledge that relationship matters. So does the approach used when communicating an error.


And there is no fool-proof way to expose a mistake. Sometimes people won’t appreciate the call out. No matter how you go about it.


How do you approach these kinds of situations? Do you let people know or keep it to yourself? Do you appreciate it when people make you aware of your mistakes or would you rather they left well enough alone?


If you were in my shoes, what would you do?

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14 Comments


kathleenswhitehead
kathleenswhitehead
Aug 10, 2021

This is such a great post, Jill! Your audio adds SO MUCH! It truly informs, enhances, and entertains us on whatever subject you engage. Most of all I appreciate how you normalize tricky topics... this is something my fam. of origin never did. It feels so healthy! It helps, too, that you do so with humility, insight, and curiosity. Thank you

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Jill Anthony
Jill Anthony
Aug 11, 2021
Replying to

Thanks Kathleen! It's interesting how the same words can contain different meanings based on who's reading them. I imagine by hearing me read my own words, it clarifies what could be read a different way. I'm fascinated by this notion of meaning. It's part of what's interesting to me about theatre - two different people can read the same scene differently ... and both could read it different from the playwright's intent!


I find this all points to the uniqueness of humanity. Thank you for acknowledging the normalizing of tricky topics. I believe that, for the most part, we humans are more alike than different. We don't often discuss the tricky stuff, so we all think we're alone in it.…


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Renee Revis
Renee Revis
Aug 10, 2021

Given that I'm working on this grammar app, I can be especially concerned about this and yet, I still find myself making errors at times. It happens, often not because we don't know the right thing, but because we're just focused on something else or even due to something like auto-correct. Depending on the context (e.g., a text msg vs something on the website!), I worry about it more or less. If you ever see something on my website in particular, please, please, please point it out!!

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Jill Anthony
Jill Anthony
Aug 11, 2021
Replying to

100%! It's amazing how our brains also autocorrect because they know the context so they see what's supposed to be there. Like with "creative sparks creativity"! It wasn't until I was reading it OUT LOUD that I caught it!


You can count on me! If I see something on your site, I WILL say something! ❤️

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Judah Anthony
Judah Anthony
Aug 10, 2021

I am not detailed oriented (ask my wife), so I usually don’t even see the mistakes. Jill LOVES words; for me, words are the necessary evil for trying to express ideas and concepts.

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Jill Anthony
Jill Anthony
Aug 11, 2021
Replying to

🤣 So true! How different we are! ❤️

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olo912
olo912
Aug 10, 2021

I would want you to pull me to the side and point it out, so I can be aware of it.

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olo912
olo912
Aug 14, 2021
Replying to

Great response. I totally agree.😊

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Non-productive comment: I’m still giggling about your words, “My IQ is high enough to know it’s not worth my taking the test.”

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Jill Anthony
Jill Anthony
Aug 11, 2021
Replying to

Ha ha! Know thyself, right?! 🤣❤️

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