Tonality in Emails – Business Communication

By January 5, 2018 Gender of Talent

Being a communications student, I always refer back to the SMR model – the Sender- Message – Receiver model and have always dwelled upon the human need to have 3 D conversations which are face to face and where audio can be heard vs. what we have nowadays which are 2D flat email messages lacking texture and tone.

In order to furnish them with texture and tone, we use commas, exclamation marks, smileys and other emoticons and try and create a third dimension – that of emotion within them. It is also interesting to see how ‘tone’ is communicated by usage of words and presentation of an email which communicates the state of mind of the sender based on the perception of the receiver where the message goes beyond just the mere content contained in the words of an email message to meanings which are derived by the receiver of the message.

Some interesting and anecdotal observations from my career of nearly 2 decades:

  • People in authority usually do not even bother to address a sender who is subordinate to them in stature and don’t even take the pain of typing out their name at the end of the message
  • Often people who want to pretend and ‘fake’ superiority of stature use the above method of email communication to show others that they are more senior than they actually are
  • phrases like ‘gentle reminder’ are used in the subject of a message to deliver a ‘not so gentle’ reprimand to ensure delivery!!!
  • Often the people who are cced in emails are noteworthy as the more and the seniority of those who are copied automatically accredits importance to the content of the message of the email – have we not heard – ‘make sure to mark the email to his boss and then you will get a response’ ?
  • A thoughtless ‘reply all’ which floods the mail boxes of those who it should not have ensures flooding of the mailbox of the sender of that thoughtless reply email with reprimands which are monosyllabic which communicate the level of annoyance that this has caused.
  • A lack of reply to an email also tells the sender of the email that their message is not worth receiver’s response and immediately puts them in a position which is one level below in the ‘food chain
  • By corollary an immediate response brightens the senders day…

Please do share your own thoughts// observations and experiences to make this an even more interesting article.

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