Offended by an innocent work email - Deepstash
Offended by an innocent work email

Offended by an innocent work email

ll of us have heard tips for “netiquette” – those helpful hints for avoiding offense or miscommunication in the messages we send. But neither good intentions nor perfect email etiquette will necessarily avoid problems. 

This is because email readers are often subject to what’s called “negative intensification bias”. They often read into messages negativity the sender didn’t intend, or they exaggerate even a hint of negativity.

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MORE IDEAS FROM THEARTICLE

  • Given the volume of workplace emails, an occasional negative exchange is probably inevitable. However, certain features of email may make matters worse, increasing the likelihood of miscommunication and conflict escalation.
  • For example, compared to face-to-face communication, email entails delayed feedback. In face-to-face communication we’re better able to monitor and repair misunderstandings in real time.
  • Emails also involve reduced “social presence” – the perception the other person is real and “there” in the interaction. Delayed feedback increases the chances of misunderstanding, and low social presence can lower inhibitions and encourage angry replies or “flaming”.

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RELATED IDEAS

Email is an extremely useful communication tool.  But when used inappropriately, email can hinder productivity.

More than one-quarter of a worker's day on average is spent answering and reading emails - email is the second-most time-consuming activity for workers, next to "role-specific tasks."

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Learn how to set delayed email deliveries

There is no rule stating that every email reply must be sent immediately after being written unless it's urgent. Many email programs support a delayed delivery system where you can schedule when your reply or email will be sent.

If you're fond of clearing out emails on a Friday afternoon, delaying email responses until Monday will lessen stress on both yourself and your coworkers and you can both enjoy your weekends.

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The lack of verbal and nonverbal social cues

Any email message we send has the potential to be read in the wrong context, or misinterpreted entirely by the recipient. Even if we have smiley faces in the email, it is no match for actual face-to-face, video, or telephonic conversations, which, apart from our words, also showcase our empathy and earnestness.

Compared to a face-face conversation, an email is just a bunch of words that once sent, are out of our control.

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