Monday, February 13, 2006

The Misinderstood Tones of Emails- a Big Problem

Years ago people sat in solitude, with special paper and their favorite pen, and carefully crafted letters. Letter writing was a art. Perfecting you handwriting was an expected skill. No more. The art of letter writing has gone the way of the horse and carriage. In a hurry to send a message ands move on to other things, while multitasking, we tend to whip up an email it and not give it another thought. That is, until someone tells you that you were rude in your hastily sent email. Uh oh!

Cyberspace is swamped with email. I believe that most of it is written win no insults intended. However, I often wonder if my sense of humor is perceived the way I intended on the other side of the digital super-mailway.

Personally, I enjoy face to face conversations. I feel I get a better grip on where the person I am talking with is coming from (so to speak.) Facial expressions, body language, inflections in the voice, speech pace, pauses, etc. are all queues we use to interpret meaning in face to face oral communications. Pure voice communication (telephone, walkie talkie, etc., work with less- missing all the visual elements. However, when we move on to written communication, we are really stumbling in the dark. We have to guess what all of the physical and aural queues were. We tend to bring our own emotions into play, which can lead to some serious misunderstandings.

If we add to my above elements the problems of people from different cultures, with different primary languages, we really leave ourselves open for miscommunication.

eMail writer beware!

Read this article:
Wired News (,70179-0.html):: "By Stephen Leahy | Also by this reporter
02:00 AM Feb, 13, 2006 EST

'Don't work too hard,' wrote a colleague in an e-mail today. Was she sincere or sarcastic? I think I know (sarcastic), but I'm probably wrong.

According to recent research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, I've only a 50-50 chance of ascertaining the tone of any e-mail message. The study also shows that people think they've correctly interpreted the tone of e-mails they receive 90 percent of the time.

'That's how flame wars get started,' says psychologist Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago, who conducted the research with Justin Kruger of New York University. 'People in our study were convinced they've accurately understood the tone of an e-mail message when in fact their odds are no better than chance,' says Epley."

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posted by An Educational Voyage @ 2/13/2006 07:46:00 PM  
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