The importance of one word, and an apology

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I spent a lot of time writing a post on pricing yesterday.  As a suggestion for one of the points, I directed readers to check out a conversation with Robert Middleton and Alan Weiss on value pricing.  After listening to the conversation myself, I noticed that Alan didn’t mince words and might come across as a bit strong for some of my readers.  So I said:

"He has very strong opinions and may seem a bit crass to some of you."

This morning, I received an email from Alan who was justifiably upset that I had used the word "crass."  I looked it up in the dictionary and saw to my horror that it means this:

"So crude and unrefined as to be lacking in discrimination and sensibility."

This is absolutely not what I meant.  What I meant to say is "strong minded" or "very direct." 

I really apologize for my error Alan.  It is not fair or responsible to call you out like that, especially given your contributions to the field.  I am embarrassed and have learned a big lesson:

Be careful with your choice of words

I find it very ironic that I just did a post on common errors in English.  It must have been a subconscious warning to be careful what I write. 

Don’t make my mistake:  check before you post.

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9 Responses to “The importance of one word, and an apology”

  1. Maria Brophy says:

    I probably would have made the same mistake – Lord knows I put my foot in my mouth all the time, especially when writing a post. Just the other day I wrote about my cousin riding a certain type of horse when fox hunting, and I had it all wrong. (I don’t know squat about horses, obviously.) Thank God you can change a word after pressing PUBLISH!

    You handled this well, and it was a good lesson for all of us. Be Careful BEFORE you insult someone!

  2. Helen says:

    Thank goodness that Alan called you out on that “mistake”. If he hadn’t his displeasure, he might’ve been fuming silently and casting negative thoughts your way (and worse!). But you would never have known had he not brought it to your attention. To me, that would’ve been a worse outcome – offending someone but not knowing it.

  3. Andy Pels says:

    Ok – I read some of his stuff (which, by the way, I wouldn’t have taken the time to, if it weren’t for this discussion). Maybe you should have just said it was a typo, and you meant cross. I’m kidding! Alan seems like a good enough guy. I bet most people don’t know that the dictionary definition of ‘the word’ is as negative as it is. And, of course, Pam you handled it with cLass. I’m so glad I never make errors or mistakes that I have to agonize over and apologize for. Ahem.

    Andy P

  4. An easy mistake to make! Alan — crass?? Certainly not if you look up the word, but direct, opinionated, etc.

    I don’t agree with Alan on everything (I don’t agree with anyone on everything), but I read everything he writes and have learned a lot from him.

    value pricing — interesting. Sometimes it works for me.

  5. Alan Weiss says:

    Thanks for your understanding. No one who knows me would ever call me crass. But they would all call me candid, frank, and direct. I appreciate the way you handled this.

    In all candor!


  6. Proofreading is not enough 😉 Even with ‘read before You post’ something may slip into post.

    At least for me text on computer screen does look good, but when on paper I see a lot mistakes. So for important things I highly recommend to print before posting 😉

  7. James says:

    I’d hate to be in your shoes when that happened, but what you mention absolutely makes sense. I’ll be careful about what I write too since sometimes what we think a word means it not actually what it mean.

  8. HR Wench says:

    Pam I like you even more knowing that you have the courage to publicly apologize for a public mistake. I had no idea what the actual definition of the word “crass” was and could have made the same mistake myself!

  9. Mike says:

    A number of years ago, a friend rang me up and said she was interested about a job advertized in my company. She was looking for some general background information and so on. She told me she was going to be interviewed by my boss at the time.

    After the interview, I asked her how it had gone, and if she was interested in the job. She just burst out laughing.
    When trying to sell her on our company and how much people liked working there because we had low turnover of staff, my boss made repeated use of the term “the low rate of nutrition”.
    He meant, of course “attrition”.
    After that, my friend said she couldn’t consider working there because she’d never be able to look him in the eye without laughing.
    But truly, we were all very skinny at the time!

    I hope you see the funny side of this soon – mark it up to new parent fatigue and put it behind you. It’s not like you’re one for dishing out the insults so I don’t think anyone is going to start thinking the worst of you now 🙂

    Mike, all I can say is THANKS. That is a hilarious story and made me laugh out loud.