Some Things Just Do NOT Translate

Text and email – two modern conveniences that are also two of the most common tools for helping our words come back to bite our backsides!


These are the two worst forms of communication when there is any form of disagreement because our intentions do not always come across clearly.  It is up to the discretion of the reader to interpret this important aspect.  More often than not, they get it wrong.


When that happens you spend more time going back and cleaning up a huge mess that was never there in the first place and oftentimes leads to other, irrelevant messes that must be addressed before you can even get back to the original point.


I try never to have a tiff over text.  I said try.  Although my son said he could tell when my unhappy factor started to rise because I started responding much quicker with lengthier texts.  Almost like, “Oh crap, mom is firing off paragraphs.”


Recently I got blamed for a text tiff in which I was the recipient of the curt, snarky answers while I was remaining calm and neutral.  Geez, had I known two months later I was going to be painted as the bitchy one I would have earned it!  But that is a different story.


In a business setting it is imperative that you be mindful of your audience.  Do they really know you?  Will they interpret that email as a witty response or a bitchy comment?  When in doubt be as vanilla as possible.  Do not give way for misinterpretation.  You will not win – period.


Humor and cuteness are to be left out of business communication.  The comments are not received as cute, clever or humorous.  Someone will misread them.


Someone told me of a breakfast meeting they and a few co-workers had scheduled with a company executive.  It had to be rescheduled and it was set for a date that a big company luncheon was going to take place.  When this was recognized an email was sent to the executive’s assistant asking if it should still take place or if she wanted to reschedule for another date.


Her response was, “I’m sure he can eat twice that day :-$”


She used a cute little emoticon as an ending.  Seriously?  Why not say “aw, aren’t you cute, not too bright, but cute we will keep it on the calendar.  That is like putting an “lol” at the end of a text so it doesn’t sound quite so bitchy.  Not that I have ever done that, of course….


I got my hand smacked as a manager once for sending out an email with one little line in it that management did not really care for.  I knew my audience, the administrative staff, and I knew they knew me.


There was a new software update coming out and I wanted to give them a heads up.  So I sent an email stating this and said something to the effect of “as they tend to go” in there.


I was told that it could have been interpreted as unsupportive of the company.


Duh.  Every single update they did screwed things up, we all knew that.  My staff knew it too, but in management’s eyes I was supposed to be rah-rah team and never, ever say anything negative in any way shape or form that could be interpreted as negative against the company.


Lesson learned.


Clarity is key.  Make sure you state your point in a clear, concise and short manner.  Remember, email is a convenience tool and it is expected that it will be a shorter method of communication rather than a memo or letter.


Send someone a two page email then walk by their office after you send it to see their eyes roll.


The more you write the more exposed you are for misinterpretation.  Keep is simple, clean and on point without your personal humor or un-necessary personal input.


No matter what form of communication we use there is always a chance of misunderstanding, even from an audience that knows you.  You can always tell when this has happened on Facebook.  You start seeing the posts from “This is my page and I can say what I want” to posts flying out in all caps.  Perhaps you should be mindful of who you are connected to on there, as well.  Not everyone gets my humor so not everyone is my friend.  It is what it is.


If you have been victim to misinterpretation then the best thing to do is to type your response then wait.  Don’t send it immediately.  Give it a few minutes to set then go back and re-read it.


Read it from the standpoint of a third party.  Is it clear, is it on point and is it lack of any personal emotions or cuteness that could be misinterpreted.


It is very easy to fire back a response but taking three to five minutes to make sure it wont come back to bite you in the backside is really, really worth it.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


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