The other day, during a casual conversation, that girl used the term “thermostat” in referring to a thermometer. I did not correct her. I later thought about the conversation and realized that I had not given myself permission to correct her. Only then did it occur to me that I have a kind of mental checklist that I use before granting myself “permission to correct.”
The checklist is pretty simple:
1. Did I know exactly what she meant?
2. Is my life really impacted by the incorrect usage of that particular word?
3. Do I sometimes get annoyed when people correct my even though I know they understood what I meant?
Communication successful. No need for correction.
There are times, though, when every word matters. When I am teaching National Electrical Code classes, I begin by asking those in attendance to “please correct me” if I misspeak or say something they feel is instinctively wrong. In such a venue we are all there to learn. More importantly, misspeaking may have consequences in matters of interpreting Code requirements. Thankfully, the folks attending my classes—electricians, contractors, engineers, and inspectors—are more than eager to correct me.