Sunday, April 18, 2010

Interpretations of the Email Monster

This is not about all the spam mail I get or the advertisements that somehow end up in my inbox (I frequently find myself scratching my head over those). No, this is about those emails I write to friends, family, etc. etc.

Ever wonder why someone never answered your email or took it the wrong way? Do any of the emails you get ever sound rude, even downright nasty? And this from your best friend? It usually happens when we least expect it. Especially to or from those you love.

Hey, I’m guilty. I’ve sent my share of emails fully intending to give my loving opinion (I say loving, because, well, my opinions to my family and friends come from my heart) only to end up hurting and upsetting the recipient. In today’s busy world juggling between job, home, and family, rushing that email off might be a mistake and it might just cost you.

It can be hard to show your emotions in an email, unless, of course, you’re a wonderful writer capable of flowery prose. Let’s face it; most of us aren’t adept with the ornate style of Shakespeare or your current #1 New York Best Selling Author.

Don’t get me wrong, I love receiving emails, not including spam, and not everyone who sends me emails has this problem. Mainly, I speak for myself. I know from experience the email monster lives inside me. I've hurt someone’s feelings or had my message taken the wrong way. I have to take strong measures to keep him at bay. It could happen during a simple a letter declining an invitation or writing what you thought was a helpful suggestion to a friend. And then there’s that all too powerful first impression when sending an email to someone you don’t know. It could be something as important as a request for employment, or a complaint to your child’s teacher.

Don’t rush. I know, I know, you’re busy. We all are. But there are three things I try to remember to do before I push that send button.

First, I read what I wrote. I do this not only for content but also for grammar and spelling. And sometimes, more often than I’d like, I miss something. It’s so embarrassing to discover a typo after I’ve pushed the send button (this could happen here on my blog).They happen, but not as many. Thank God, for spell check. As for grammar, I try my best.

Then I read it again with a smile. I think, just like talking on the phone, if you write or speak with a smile, your words, like the sound of your voice, will beam. This is true. Try it. Call someone and smile while you’re talking. Or, better yet, record your voice, once without smiling and once with, then play it back. Which sounds better?

And last, some people hate these, but I don’t mind seeing them, the proverbial LOL, (my daughter is great at these) or :) help tremendously. Or you could get creative and throw in a *snort* or a *chuckle and giggle* here and there.

Happy writing. :)

Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment.


  1. I am sooo guilty of sending fast emails. My whole life is fast, even telephone conversations. Occasionally I've gotten a reply where the recipient feels as though I was perhaps a tad bit hurt by my comments, which in my mind weren't in any way hurtful or negative. ;)

    I think tone is very hard to convey in text, as a writer, I know it's difficult. But, I think as recipients, or readers, it's important to consider that the sender is not able to offer you the smile with the words, or the softness of the tone that is in their head as they write. It's a two-way street.

    Good post Susan. (she says with a smile)

  2. And wow, look at that awful third sentence. It should read "Occasionally, I've gotten a reply where the recipient feels I was perhaps a tad bit hurtful with my comments."

    Yes, follow Susan's advice and read the message first. This is an example. Purely intentional.

  3. Exactly, Renee. Sometimes I'll receive a response back that seems so totally off-the-wall and wonder, where’d that come from? Or worse yet, they never respond back. Ever. Then I’ll read my original email and think, ooooh. Anyway, sometimes I miss the days when the only form of communication was the telephone. Not really. I hate talking on the telephone. There was a time when I made my living on the telephone, hated it then too. Email is much better, providing I can get my point across without killing a relationship. Still working on it. :);) and :D


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