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Missed Some Errors? Here’s How to Handle It with Grace

Updated: April 4, 2016

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  1. Victoria, thank you so much for casting a positive light on something that can feel so negative. How smart to view it as an opportunity to learn and grow and build a professional partnership.

  2. What a great example of putting aside your pride and accepting that we’re all human and can make mistakes, but it’s how we learn and move forward from those mistakes that really set us apart. I’ve been called out on somethings before, and a lot of it has to do with Canadian vs American spelling, I always thank them and pay more attention to it from there on. I used to just go, “yeah I’m good, no need to re-read my work” I’ve since realized that my keyboard does not always pick up every letter that I type and that my computer doesn’t keep up with my typing, so I make sure that I am always going back and checking to make sure that what I’ve typed is what I meant to type.

    Thank you again for your story, but what I’m wondering is how you responded to her e-mail to keep the relationship so good.

  3. Hi Caitlin! I really appreciate this story because it reveals real people on both sides. I recently encountered the kind of kindness and patience your CR showed you. It was when I turned in my Unit 5 test and didn’t pass.
    What I learned was that when there’s a certain kind of stress (nervousness and fear from a threatening job situation) that I should not have even taken the test. i could barely spell my own name, much less see what was normally second nature to me. I should have waited till things calmed down, but thought I’d just hurry through the test to get that off my plate. Mistake. I had to decide to resign from my job to start to calm down. But the kindness of your staff gave me room to relax just a little so I could begin to see clearly. I’ll take the test again tonight. And thank you and your staff for kindness in my really hard situation (even though they didn’t know what was going on with me) and to you for offering this training to the world in the first place. I’m going to pass the test and move on – to Unit 6 and out of my day job. Life is going to get better. Thanks.

    1. You go Meghan Criss, you may fall but you certainly are not out. Pick up yourself, brush yourself off and be determined that you can achieve, it is your call.

      All the best and ensure that you kick Unit 6 right out of the window.

      Go for it!


    2. Fingers crossed for you, Meghan! Best of luck (and skill, of course)!

  4. Thank you for sharing this experience. It’s a good reminder of how important it is to do this job well and not slack off. What a wonderful client, to be so honest and yet so kind in her criticism! So much better than ending the professional relationship with no explanation!

  5. Love it! Truly amazing outcome! Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. Wow! Lucky to have such a kind-hearted and honest CR! One can only hope for that when turning in something less than optimal. I, too, would be interested in the PR’s response, so let’s have it when available. What was that conversation like, please?

  7. Great story. I am slowly working my way through the course. I am to the point of starting the practice transcripts and learning to use the iPad. I have downloaded iAnnotate but now need my daughter to help me learn to use the iPad. I am so technically challenged. That is one thing that scares me. But I just keep telling myself to take it one step at a time and it will all make sense. I have always been the kind that spots spelling errors on signs and in print. My girls and I spend countless hours at Chick Fil A when they were young but inside I was cringing at all the misspellings in their signs, etc.
    Thank you Caitlyn for helping us to feel confident, even as we are learning the process.

    1. Hi, Diana!

      Caitlin has really made using the iPad easy for those of use who have never used it. She gives a great tutorial on how to use iAnnotate within the course, so fret not! Pretty soon you’ll be using your iPad like a pro! 🙂

  8. Victoria,
    What a great client! I certainly would welcome constructive criticism. You can’t possibly correct your mistakes if you are not even aware you are making them.

    Thanks for sharing!

  9. Thanks for the post, I wish all CRs could be that up front when they have a problem, versus, as she said just quietly moving on to someone else. And as Victoria said, it definitely makes you way more careful with your work. However, I have to say, I got some feedback from one of those who doesn’t say anything. I asked her and she told me my work wasn’t up to Standard. I had done probably a dozen jobs for her and she never said a bad word, when I asked she pointed out things I missed. So of course I went back to the scripts to check and those things she pointed out were not missed. I did a search on the things she said snd they were all right. I won’t say there weren’t some things missed but nothing that she said. I would rather she had just told me the truth, rather than make me question whether my work is good enough to be doing this.

  10. Fantastic share! Thank you so much, Victoria, for your willingness to openly talk about an uncomfortable experience you had that will help us all to “up our games.” Blessings your way!

  11. Victoria, thanks for sharing this experience with us. I’m glad you didn’t get derailed by that feedback, and instead, absorbed the blow and became an even better proofreader. I hope that I never have the same experience…. and yet I kind of hope I do! Like you said, a client like that is a kind and generous person and would be a gift to any of us.

    P.S. I’m brand new at this and only in Module 2, so I probably have at least eight mistakes in this post!

  12. Glad to hear everything turned out for the best Victoria. The CR sounds like a professional and mature person, who can show empathy and still give correction when it is needed. I had a similar situation happen to me this past week. Nothing to do with proofreading. A character flaw was pointed out to me by a dear friend. Ouch! I didn’t like hearing it, but will grow and learn from it, and be a better person.

  13. Wow, the client was super understanding and diplomatic in pointing out the proofreader’s poor quality work. Not all clients would be that nice, I assume. Great example and thanks for sharing.

  14. Although this story makes me much more nervous and anxious about proofreading, I am happy to hear that you gained some valuable insight into yourself, your job, and into human nature, in general. I hope to be as brave as you and accept the constructive criticism with such a positive attitude.

  15. Gulp…my first post..I just started the course today! While excited and on a high, I’m also nervous and anxious too. Am I doing the right thing? Can I really do this? Do I have what it takes?
    It’s humbling to hear these shared stories, from “seasoned proofreaders.” I’m thankful to be included in such a wonderful group of people. This blog really spoke to my heart. I struggle when it comes to accepting constructive criticism. After reading this great post, I’m hoping my next encounter of when it happens, (cause it’s just a matter of when?) I will remember this and apply what I have learn.
    Thank you!

    1. Welcome aboard! We’re happy to have you in our “tribe.” 😀 A lot of us, myself included, can struggle with fielding criticism. Like anything else, it’s a muscle we build with time. You’ll do just fine! Have a great weekend!

  16. So…what, exactly, was your procedure from then on? Did you work for the same rate, or offer a discount for the mistakes? Did you send an email as an apology? This post seems to be about how your client handled it; what did YOU do?

  17. Both of you handled the matter very well-like responsible adults. I must confess that reading about it makes me a little scared about my plans for proofreading, now that it’s CONFIRMED that I need to be perfect at the job.

    1. You absolutely do NOT have to be perfect; that I can promise you. Excellence is the goal. Nobody is perfect — otherwise proofreaders wouldn’t be necessary 🙂

  18. I agree about making mistakes that is how we learn.

  19. I always try to leave a space between the initial proofreading and a final read before I let the work go. I mainly work with PHD students (thesis up to 300 pages) so they have to accept my changes or suggested improvements. If under time pressure to complete, I release the initial proofreading and tell them that my final work on their script will be sent within two days.

    The other thing that clicked with me about this story was that Victoria took on a lot of work at one time. This would have put a lot of pressure on her and reduced her ability to concentrate. Despite the fear of losing a client in the future if we turn the work down, I think this is something we have to do. It might lead to clients 'booking' your services in advance.

    1. I agree; it may have added unnecessary pressure. That’s where teamwork can be helpful! In our student groups, if someone isn’t able to take on work, they post in the group asking for backup.

  20. How would I handle the situation? Ackward, but, a thankyou is necessary. I would thank the client for letting me know and that her comments were very much appreciated. I would prefer to speak to my client on the phone than to write.
    Then I would say that in the future to prevent as far as possible slips in my work, I would
    a) build in some time to revisit my work before sending it out, and
    b) request clients to indicate the length of the material as well as deadlines so I could budget my time.
    I would admit that I had taken on more work than expected at the time and was working under pressure. Once again I would thank the client for bringing the matter to my attention and that I hoped that there were no repercussions for the client in presenting his/her work.

  21. This was an uplifting story. I have not yet had this experience as a proofreader, but I have had many jobs where proofreading was certainly an important part of it; so I have had similar experiences. How nice to have someone who isn't a complete jerk about it, giving you a little nudge. Sounds like you are both keepers.

  22. Very well said, proofreading is a job that NO ONE notices when it’s done well, and it’s only when something isn’t perfect that it’s noticed. There's a lot to learn from this great communication. Thanks for sharing.

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