Why you shouldn’t judge me on my spelling

Ricchard sitting down in a room, writing and smiling
Image by Virgin.com
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 23 July 2019

One of the biggest challenges us dyslexics face is how people perceive us from our writing and typing – especially now that we often tap away on our phones more than we talk face to face.

When I was at school I was often labelled lazy and dumb because I struggled to keep up. In the classroom, words just looked like a jumble to me on the blackboard. 

More than 50 years have passed and I’m still as bad at spelling as I was at school. I’m not alone with this; many dyslexics really struggle with their spelling (it always baffles me that the word dyslexia in itself is so hard to spell – thank goodness for spellcheck).

Black and white photo of Richard Branson relaxing and reading on a couch
Image by Owen Buggy

It’s fascinating how much we judge others on their ability to spell – when in reality most of the time this has little effect on our ability to do our work effectively. If you get an email that no one else will see apart from you and the recipient, does it matter that much? Being clear and concise is more important to me!

My struggles have shaped Virgin as a company – I like clear, direct communication and we have an inclusive culture that is more like a family than a business. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I received an interesting message from a friend recently highlighting all the surprising ways the lives of dyslexic people can be influenced. 

She says dyslexia presents many challenges when it comes to work and studying – but also when she has tried to date. She said a survey showed that poor command of spelling and grammar is a bigger turnoff than bad sex.

I feel rather fortunate that I met my wonderful wife before the age of dating apps and had to woo her with my charm alone (somehow it worked!)

Richard Branson sitting on a plane, writing
Image from Virgin.com

It’s a shame that poor spelling could stand in the way of romance or any other positive communications. Dyslexics have so much to bring to the table – creativity, problem-solving skills, an ability to see the bigger picture. These are all great traits to have in a partner.

Perhaps it’s time to be a bit more lenient with each other and tolerant of our shortcomings. We all have them, whether it’s bad spelling, or forgetting to pick up our socks. We can keep working on them, and in the meantime, let’s remember that kindness is the most important trait we can all practice every day.

Let’s look for the things to be grateful for, and celebrate our differences – for wouldn’t the world be rather boring if we were all the same?