It's the old English teacher in me. Still, I never gave the gave the "power cues" a second thought. Until now. From Slate.
If you are a recent college grad and you pride yourself on your writing, you probably see yourself reflected in the letter writer’s obsessive attention to detail and wince at the feeling of being undone by a stray keystroke.
I have good news for young, typo-averse job seekers: It gets better. As you advance in your career, you won’t have to care about making every sentence that you type absolutely perfect anymore, and it will be a huge relief.
In my first few years out of college, I was a stickler for grammar, spelling, and punctuation in my work correspondence. I proofread every email and deliberated over every semicolon. I remember being surprised and slightly alarmed when I began working with older, well-established, even semi-famous writers and editors who didn’t seem to give a damn about whether they capitalized proper nouns, used commas consistently, or accidentally typed teh instead of the in emails. I was concerned for them. Didn’t they worry about how they came across?
Those emails were my introduction to the subtle power cues embedded in workplace correspondence.
Now I know the answer: No, they didn’t worry about how they came across. They were emailing an entry-level underling; why would they care whether I thought less of them for not proofreading their emails?
Those emails were my introduction to the subtle power cues embedded in workplace correspondence. At best, informal, typo-ridden messages sent from the top of a professional hierarchy to the bottom reflect the fact that bosses aren’t particularly concerned about coming across as sloppy to their subordinates. At worst, they’re a deliberate power move—a signal to junior staffers that they aren’t worth the time it would take to correct the mistakes in an email before hitting send. Either way, the presence or absence of typos in an email—along with how polished and formal it seems—can usually tell you a great deal about the power dynamics between sender and recipient.