I’ve had more than a handful of folks e-mail me with dilemmas that had to do with interpreting what someone “meant” in an e-mail they received.
When the verbiage they were upset about was provided to me, in most cases I didn’t have the same take or reaction. In regard to one particular e-mail, I had proportionally the opposite perception than that of the person who was upset. They thought the sender was rude – and I really didn’t see what was typed as a rude comment at all.
Emotions Come into Play
As a matter of fact, it was a general comment and the recipient chose to take it personally. That is probably because I was not emotionally involved or didn’t know the other party well enough to “read in between the lines.”
You do know what happens when you assume? With e-mail, never assume what someone means. Take them at their word. To read more into what is there based on either your feelings or what you “think” the other person meant is the basis for 99% of the misunderstandings that I am contacted about. Many times what you read into another person’s e-mail is not at all what they meant.
Type it; You Mean it
On the other hand, if you type it; you’d better mean it. All caps, multiple !!! and ???, bold type. Online, “I didn’t mean it that way!” simply does not apply. You have the ability to make darned sure what you really mean is what you relay by virtue of the words you choose and how you choose to use them.
Take the time to choose your words carefully, use full sentences – don’t type in cryptic thoughts. Do not use multiple instances of punctuation. By practicing proper grammar and you will help avoid being misunderstood. You can help avoid misunderstandings by choosing your words very carefully, and by using an 😉 , or “LOL” where appropriate to set the tone.
In a couple decades, communicating with the written word has once again become mainstream. Each of us regardless of our profession, hobbies or educational background, needs to learn how to communicate with clarity in our e-mail.
You can not assume you will be understood if you don’t take the time to ensure your e-mails are clear and concise. If you work at your writing and vocabulary skills, as I do each and every day, you can avoid any unnecessary misunderstandings, be perceived favorably and will definitely have more fun too!
Remember, you are what you type!