Today’s blog is actually a rant. I have a love/hate relationship with email and texts.
I love the convenience of getting a message to someone right away and receiving a rapid response; I hate how imprecise and misconstrued those messages can get.
One culprit for miscommunication is punctuation. I’m not a full-blown punctuation snob because I make enough punctuation errors not to be qualified to offer criticism, but critical I am. Call me old school, but lack of punctuation plays a factor in miscommunication in shorter form messages like texts and tweets. The lack of commas and periods leaves the door wide open for head scratching.
“An old dog can’t learn new tricks can he learn some old ones before trying new ones.”
How many ways can you punctuate the above communication and get a different message? Let’s try two different versions.
1. “An old dog can’t learn new tricks, can he? Learn some old ones before trying new ones.”
2. “An old dog can’t learn new tricks. Can he learn some old ones before trying new ones?”
The first one is a question and a directive; the second is an assertion and a question.
The point isn’t punctuation, but expediency. Even if all your I’s are dotted and your T’s are crossed, there is still lots of room for misinterpretation in a written piece of communication. If you need a textbook example, just look at the number of contested wills that were carefully constructed by some highly educated people.
Rather than write a long email response to someone, pick up the phone or have an in person meeting if possible. It will save you the time you spend miscommunicating back and forth in a text.
A tone can be read into keystroked words that isn’t actually there. That may cause feathers to fly when someone was just attempting to be wry.
I love texts and emails; I just hate their limitations.
Here’s my suggestion: If it’s important, pick up the phone.
All the best,
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