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Why we’re stupider than wot we fink over email

14th February, 2023

Why we’re stupider than wot we fink over email

Here’s a short story my client told me last week, all about the importance of commas (and intent)…

 

A few years ago she had an email exchange with a senior leader in her organisation.

 

He sent her a report.

 

She replied ‘Thank you.’

 

He sent back ‘No thank you.’

 

Alarmed, she called him straight away.

 

What’s wrong?  Did I do something to offend you?’

 

What?  No.  Why?’

 

‘Your email.  It said “No thank you.”’

 

‘Aah.  I meant: “No, thank YOU.” I was being nice.

 

So, clearly, commas count. (‘I like cooking my family and my pets’ is another great example.)

 

But more than that, it’s a great reminder why we should always assume positive intent over email. All too often we get the wrong end of the stick, and, worse, don’t clarify things like my client did.

 

This 2006 study explains why so many mishaps happen over email: 

 

  1. We think we’re better at conveying our intended tone than we actually are – whether that’s funny or ironic for example.
  2. We’re worse at deciphering the tone and intention of other people’s emails than we think.

 

So in short, we’re much stupider at emailing than wot we fink.

 

Let’s not forget that!

accenture
UBS
Ricoh
Euromoney
University of Cambridge

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