Did You Really Mean That?

When you speak with someone face-to-face you get the full message. You hear the words.  You see their body language and facial expressions.  You can hear the tone in their voice.  That’s not the case with written communication.  All you get then is words on a page or screen.

That’s why written communication can sometimes come across wrong… or not as you had intended.  I was reminded of this yesterday.

Friday afternoons are the busiest, most stressful time of my week.  I was missing a file so I emailed the person who I knew had it.  The response I got back kind of ticked me off at first.

All it said was, “It’s in the email I sent yesterday”.

The way my mind at the time read it was, “Duh, you idiot!  It’s in the email I sent yesterday.  Quit bothering me and check before you email me next time!

I have no way of knowing if that’s really how they meant it but in mind they could of prevented me thinking they were rude by responding with something like, “You must not have noticed but it’s in the email I sent yesterday.  Let me know if you can’t find it and I’ll be happy to send it again.  Have a great weekend.

While not necessary, the second response definitely would have come across as more polite.

Looking back on it now the email came across short and rude to me because I was really stressed out and running behind. The fact I was silently calling myself an idiot for not realizing I already had the file didn’t help either.

This example, while trivial, has reminded me of the importance of reading back texts or emails before I send them to make sure the message I really want to get across is clear.

It’s also a reminder for me to re-read messages I get and give the sender the benefit of the doubt… and not assume they meant to be rude.

As society shifts away from verbal communication to more text based communication it’s important to realize that misinterpretations can happen.  No facial expressions, body language, or tone of voice leaves you with just words.

Have you ever read a text or email the wrong way?

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