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8 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Just Rely On SpellCheck

8 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Just Rely On SpellCheck

“She could sew seeds better than she could sew clothes.”

The above sentence is one that I came across while reading a self-published novel the other day, and is a perfect example why one cannot merely rely on a spell-checking program to ensure that one’s writing is error-free. Although “sew” and “sow” are homophones (they sound the same despite having different spellings and meanings), they are obviously not interchangeable: we sow seeds, and sew clothes.

SpellCheck, or any inbuilt spell-checking program, wouldn’t catch that, and anyone proofreading or editing your work would be patently unimpressed to come across it. Although a spell checker is a handy tool for general use, it will never fully take the place of educating yourself properly and polishing your writing skills. Here are 8 solid reasons why you shouldn’t just rely on a program to help you out in daily communications and professional writing:

1. It Won’t Catch Homophonic Errors

As in the example at the top of this page, there are many words that sound the same as others, and if you use them in lieu of the correct words (and spell them correctly), SpellCheck won’t catch them. According to the program, ewe kin rite awl kinds a things and they’ll still go threw. Case in point: SpellCheck didn’t highlight anything in that sentence as incorrect.

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When I have been responsible for sifting through cover letters and resumes for potential job candidates, I discarded any that had blatant spelling errors. If someone can’t discern between “weather” and “whether,” or “could of” and “could have,” I’d worry about their competence in any professional role.

Spellchecker Poem

    2. SpellCheck Won’t Catch Typos That Are Actual Words

    When you write phrases such as, “In miss you,” “I’ll pick the care up from the garage,” or, “We’re having meet for dinner,” SpellCheck doesn’t catch any errors, because none of the words are actually misspelled. The same thing goes for Word and other word-processing software: phrases and words that are spelled properly aren’t picked out as wrong, so you can write something utterly nonsensical merely by adding or subtracting a letter or so, and it’ll still go through as perfectly okay. Ask me how much trouble I once got into by accidentally referring to a Rabbi as a “rabbit” in a work email.

    Additionally, misplaced gaps in sentences will be allowed through: have you ever sent an IM or text only to realize that you’ve hit the space bar too soon (or too late)? Instead of writing, “She meant Rick,” if referring to a friend’s comment about another, you may end up writing, “She mean trick.” That’s quite a different expression, if rather inarticulate.

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    3. You Won’t Learn From Your Mistakes

    As mentioned above, words that are spelled correctly won’t be picked out, and you’ll end up making the same errors over and over again. You might use “adverse” instead of “averse” when implying that someone isn’t fond of an idea, or say that a person was “effected” by a policy, rather than “affected.” If the people you work with don’t know the difference between these words either (or are too hesitant or polite to point out that you spelled something wrong), you’ll continue to use them improperly.

    This could backfire really badly if and when you apply for a position with people who require higher standards of writing proficiency than you’ve been accustomed to.

    4. Hideous Sentences Will Be Allowed Through

    Redundancies, misplaced modifiers, errant quotation marks, and multiple hyphens in lieu of proper dashes won’t be pointed out as wrong, so that article you might be submitting to an editor will leave them gawking in horror at the fact that you’re allowed anywhere near a computer at all. An example:

    “The young was girl was walking the dog in in a short skirt.”

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    Guess what SpellCheck didn’t pick out as wrong?

    5. It Makes You Lazy

    If you’re not constantly aware of the words you’re typing in order to ensure that they’re spelled correctly, you can get sloppy. Sure, anything you type formally should still be amended by the program, but what if you actually have to use a pen and paper to leave a note for someone?

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      6. You Won’t Always Have Access To It

      If you rely heavily on a spell checker to catch your errors, you won’t ameliorate your own writing skills and may end up making rather egregious errors when using a program that doesn’t have one installed. Certain IM programs don’t check your spelling as you type, and many phones don’t have spell-checking software checking your texts before you hit “send.”

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      If you have to send a text to a client or your boss, or you’re in a Skype chat with someone whose opinion of you actually matters, and your spelling skills are on par with your eight-year-old nephew’s, you’re in for it.

      7. It Can Be Wrong

      SpellCheck isn’t necessarily up to date on neologisms, slang terms, or marketing jargon, and can mark certain expressions or words as incorrect when they’re actually just fine as they are.

      8. It Won’t Discern What You Meant To Write From What You Actually Wrote

      Most of us think more quickly than we type, which leads to words being omitted or sentences being mangled. SpellCheck won’t clue in to the fact that you left out several vital words in a paragraph: if they’re not misspelled, it doesn’t care. It’s actually best to take a break from a piece after you’ve written it and then go back to it with fresh eyes, as you’ll put enough distance between yourself and your work to be able to find mistakes and omissions.

      We’ll often choose the wrong word in conversation or writing because it sounds similar to the one we meant, but if you sign off an email “with love and infection,” the recipient might be a bit unnerved. You don’t want that.

      Whether you’re writing an essay, an article, a blog post, or your PhD thesis, it’s important to go through your work thoroughly to ensure that it’s error-free: relying on a program that will only catch typos is sure to land you in trouble. If you do proofread your work, determine that there’s nothing wrong with it, and then find out that there were several errors within it, you might want to read books a bit more often in order to re-familiarize yourself with formal written English.

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      Catherine Winter

      Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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      Last Updated on January 15, 2021

      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

      The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

      Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

      Posture

      First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

      • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
      • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
      • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
      • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

      All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

      Facial Expressions

      Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

      • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
      • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
      • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

      If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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      1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

      A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

      The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

      This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

      2. Relax Your Face

      New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

      The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

      To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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      3. Improve Your Eye Contact

      Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

      The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

      To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

      3. Smile More

      There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

      Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

      4. Hand Gestures

      Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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      It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

      5. Enhance Your Handshake

      In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

      “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

      It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

      6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

      As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

      Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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      Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

      Final Takeaways

      Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

      If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

      More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

      Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

      Reference

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