What do you REALLY mean when you add specific phrases to emails, reports, text or what’s app messages? What do you really mean when you post or comment on a social media platform? This is something a recent video on You Tube asked.
This short video – with – I have to admit, a rather robotic voice, but it has some interesting points. Is there some hidden meaning, or ‘passive aggressive’ message in certain phrases that we use? One of the examples used in the video is “Hope this helps” which they interpret as meaning, “Now stop bothering me with silly questions”. Another phrase “Let me clarify” which might be interpreted as EYE ROLE “you completely misunderstood what I am saying. Go back to my original email/document and read it through again, taking note of what I’ve just said…”
For me, this brings up a bee I have in my bonnet about living here in Southern England; the whole “Sorry” business when actually “Excuse me” is a more appropriate term. You try going into a supermarket on the Finchley Road and “Sorry” means “This is my excuse to push you out of the way”. The amusing thing is that when I say “Excuse me” some of these people either ignore me or give me a look saying “How dare you…” I’m only being polite!
However, I digress… Here’s the rub, unless you are an excellent writer, who uses the words and punctuation flawlessly, written communication can be misinterpreted or you can put your one interpretations on a phrase. Certainly that is why I am known to use emojis on occasions. There are conversations that would be better face to face, or on the phone, because then the tone of voice and if face to face, non-verbal communication ensures the meaning is much clearer.
My gut feeling is that some written communication: such as messaging and emails are being used to replace spoken conversations, but their style hasn’t been adapted to reflect the danger of misinterpretation.
So what should we do to avoid this: read through your emails and messages before you send them. Double check that they are clear, with clarity and avoid misunderstandings. Add an emoji if it is a less formal message to reflect the mood of the message.