The Problem With Telling Women to Email Like Men

Excerpt from this article:

You’ve probably heard by now that you’re doing email wrong. You’re too friendly in your emails. You should write more confidently. You need to be more professional. Women, so the stereotype goes, email differently to men. We’re more personable and less persuasive. We apologize more, qualifying statements with “I think” and “I feel,” and use so-called “permission words” like “just.” And then there are the exclamation points. Several studies have found that, on average, women use more exclamation points in their digital communications than men, making the humble exclamation point somewhat emblematic of gendered differences in email styles. I can’t remember the last time I sent an email without one.

This, we are told, is bad. It makes us look soft, or amateurish. It stops people taking us seriously. One common piece of advice I’ve received: stop emailing “like a woman.” Cut the friendly tone, banish the exclamation points, and don’t you dare think about slipping in an emoji. Email like a man.

The problem with this, however, is the same as with any other kind of Lean In model of feminism. It places the onus to change on the individual, when the problem is societal. It asks those who are already disadvantaged by social structures—in this case, male-dominated corporate culture—to put in extra work only to further uphold those very same structures.

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I Stopped Using Exclamation Points and Lost All My Friends

Excerpt from this article:

In a new-year, new-me effort to conserve my emotional energy, I decided to scrub my correspondence of punctuational loudness, to go on what I called a deep exclamation point cleanse. The Goop de grammar. My goal was one month of zero bangs on email, text, social media, Slack, dating apps, letters (yes, letters), notes to my roommates—everything.

It started well enough. The first day, I awoke feeling superior—morally, intellectually, spiritually. I no longer relied on a pedestrian symbol to express excitement or mask anxiety. When the first text rolled in, a thank you for a dinner party I hosted the night before, it was no sweat. “Oooooo are you kidding????” I replied. “You were a DELIGHT.” If I couldn’t have exclamation points, I would have question marks. AND I WOULD YELL.

Without exclamation, I lost warmth and tonality. No one knew what I meant anymore.

Nick Cave is showing us a new, gentler way to use the internet

Nick Cave performs

Excerpt from this article:

Something curious is happening on the world wide web. Intimacy. And not of the more sordid kind with which you might commonly associate it.

In September the Australian songwriter Nick Cave told email subscribers of his plan to communicate outside “some of the more conventional ways of getting information across”. It followed the “Conversations with Nick Cave” events this year in the US and Ireland where, inspired by his 2017 world tour with the Bad Seeds, he explored a more direct relationship with his audience by just talking with them. The success of those gatherings has led to 10 more dates in Australia and New Zealand next year. Cave wanted to deepen further this engagement and so invited “questions or comments, observations or inspirations” from fans and he’d answer in a series of mail drops titled The Red Hand Files.

“You can ask me anything,” he told readers. “Like the Conversations with events there will be no moderator. This will be between you and me. Let’s see what happens.”

There’s Only One Good Way to Email Your Boss

Excerpt from this article:

My boss gets 500 emails a day. I try not to email her but sometimes I have to, and the one way to get her to reply quickly is simple: I start every email to her with a question. And then if needed, I explain the context to my question in one or two more sentences in the fewest possible words.

Starting with a question is important because if your boss scrolls through emails on her phone, like most of us do, her screen allows her to see only the first few words of an email before she chooses to reply, delete, or ignore it. Words like “Do you think…” or “Could we…” or “Will you confirm…” are quick shorthand phrases that tell her THIS IS AN EASY EMAIL. All she has to do is reply yes or no. And she’ll email you back faster.

Another great touch you can add while emailing your boss, co-workers, and especially people who don’t work at your company is changing every “can” and “will” to “could you please” and “would you.” At first you will worry you sound ridiculously formal: “Could you please tell me if…?” and “Would you consider…?” But then people will start being SO NICE TO YOU and MOVE MOUNTAINS to help you only because you SOUND like a very nice refined person with poise — even if you’re falling apart at your desk, even if they’ve never met you.

 

Avoiding Miscommunication in a Digital World

Excerpt from this article (good podcast episode too):

The issue though really is you have to understand the basic problem. Any kind of form of writing, unless you’re Shakespeare, involves basically less emotional information getting through than a face-to-face conversation. And so you might feel safer in that situation. You might feel like you can control it better.

But what happens when we get face-to-face is that willy-nilly, we exchange a huge amount of information about intent. And that’s what humans really care about. We care about what’s the other person intending toward me? Is that person friend or foe? Is that person going to have me for dinner or am I safe with that person? Is this person more powerful than me or less powerful? So those are the kinds of questions that we’re asking.

When we don’t get that information – and here’s the important point – we tend to make it up. The brain hates to be deprived of information like that because its survival depends on it, and it’s always predicting a few seconds ahead: is there danger here? Is there danger here?

And so what the brain does is when it’s deprived of those channels of information, the brain makes up information. And here’s the kicker: it makes up negative information because that’s more likely to keep you alive if you assume the worst. And so that’s why so much of written communication gets misunderstood, and typically misunderstood not on the positive side, but on the negative side. People usually are offended or their feelings are hurt. You rarely get people calling up and saying, “Boy, I misinterpreted your email. I thought it was wonderful!”

Read This Article!!!

Men and women hold placards bearing an exclamation mark

Excerpt from this article:

How many exclamation points does it take to exclaim something? One, a human of sound mind and a decent grasp of punctuation might say. The exclamation point denotes exclamation. That is its point. One should suffice.

But, on the internet, it often doesn’t. Not anymore. Digital communication is undergoing exclamation-point inflation. When single exclamation points adorn every sentence in a business email, it takes two to convey true enthusiasm. Or three. Or four. Or more.

Stop Saying Technology is Causing Social Isolation

Excerpt from this article:

If you have used the internet in the last years (and I suspect you have), you have probably seen a picture on your Facebook feed or on your Tumblr dashboard or nearly everywhere pointing out, with a sense of superiority, how people are slaves of technology nowadays, always using their electronic devices in public.

My main premise is that I don’t think smartphones are isolating us, destroying our social lives or ruining interactions. I see smartphones as instruments for communication. Instruments that enable interaction on ways that just weren’t possible before, connecting us with people all around the world, via Twitter, instant messaging or other services. Some may say that if you want to interact with people, you should interact with the ones around you, and that is probably true on certain occasions. But, on other occasions, I’m just not able to comprehend why should we be forced to interact with those physically close to us instead of with the people that we really want to interact with.