“Please excuse any grammatical errors, sent from my mobile device.”
This is from an actual email message that I received and yes, the message contained within it a grammatical error. It virtually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: I will be making errors, so please look the other way; it’s something else’s fault, not mine.
And this message is not uncommon, as I see many people begging forgiveness for spelling errors and other typos as we race to adapt to surges of adrenaline and an ever-changing array of mobile devices. Even spell check sometimes turns against us. For instance, I once prepared a layoff announcement that contained assurances that the company would provide severance for three months. I swear that’s what I wrote, but somehow the communication that what was printed and widely disseminated was that severance would be provided for three monks. I spent the remainder of my day fielding calls from people laughing and asking questions about the monks selected to receive severance. Perhaps I should have added the following disclaimer to the announcement: Please excuse any typos; sometimes our good intentions are trumped by spell check.
I don’t begrudge the preemptory apology like the one sent from my friend’s mobile device. In fact, I admire it. Personally, it makes me wonder if, at least on some days, I might benefit from wearing a sign around my neck that says something to the effect:
While I would never take it to this extreme . . . not consciously anyway, it is humbling to acknowledge that there are times when I, and I would guess all of us, convey messages in the heat of the moment that we do not intend. We make mistakes; more will be made in the future. But to ask everyone around us who might be impacted by our mistakes to disregard them is in nearly every instance asking too much.
“Please know that I fully recognize that I am a work in progress and I appreciate your caring feedback.”