Have you ever heard the saying “Thou protest too much?” What that saying implies is that by protesting too much about something, you are in fact showing your true colors about the topic that you are so emotional about.
Same goes for email.
When you jump to conclusions or protest too much, you are saying quite a bit more than you probably want to about the kind of person you are. Including what you think about others.
Pause Before Jumping
Here’s an example of how jumping to incorrect conclusions can cause you to create a negative impression. Or reflect that you can’t stop thinking about yourself long enough to see the “forest through the trees”.
I was contacted by an individual that wanted to do an interview with me with for an article in a big name magazine. I immediately replied and stated I looked forward to working with them on their project.
Moments later down comes a second email from this individual.
They had received the automated response that goes out to website inquiries. This quick message clearly stated at the top, that it is just that — an automated response. My second personal response would have arrived within minutes after that.
The autoresponder goes on to explain that due to all the spam, off-line etiquette questions and email from students who want answers to their homework in lieu of reading my site, to not expect a response to off-line etiquette or homework related questions.
The second email from this person was very condescending. They choose to take my autoresponder personally. The next response was “didn’t I know who they were or have I not heard of ‘magazine name’? Wow…
Clearly this person was not asking an off-line etiquette question nor were they a student trying to avoid doing their homework. So why such a visceral reaction?
They didn’t read the entire email. If they had read the auto-response in its entirety, which concluded “otherwise, I will be in touch shortly”, they wouldn’t have jumped to this conclusion.
I wonder what they thought when moments later they received a friendly personal response addressing the specifics they had inquired about? I’ll never know, because they did not reply.
Don’t Infer What’s Not There
This is a perfect example of how someone can read into an email what isn’t there or intended. By reading more into it than the words actually state. By putting their ego into a message that had nothing to do with them.
There was no reason to jump to the conclusion they did. They choose to flex their ego in a way that certainly didn’t leave them in an attractive light.
- Read emails in their entirety.
- If you are unsure of intent or tone, read the email out loud.
- Take the words at face value. Avoid adding emotion that is not there.
- Still not sure, ask.
So don’t jump to conclusions or make assumptions above the words actually typed. Be very careful to not read meaning or intent that is not specifically clearly implied. If ever in doubt as to someone’s aim or purpose, just ask!
By doing so you’ll avoid unnecessary misunderstandings, embarrassment or poor perceptions. I’ll close with another saying. “Better safe than sorry.”