A colleague writes terse emails that sound angry or insulting. When I get them I feel like I’m being reprimanded. Just a few casual remarks would soften the effect. Am I being too sensitive? Should I say something?
You can’t help how you feel. If this continues you might begin to resist or avoid your colleague because of the tone of the messages. Maybe you could speak to her in person the next time you get one and ask if you’ve offended her. If she says ‘No, why?” you can say that the email had a sharp or unfriendly tone. I know that one’s bark can be worse than the bite; I rely on my friendly face for help – maybe she can try that.
Spotlight on Friendly Filler Phrases
Email messages can cause a lot of trouble. Even if one masters grammar and other issues of correctness, there is peril in pointedness. Everyone wants to read a message that gets to the point without a lot of build-up or unnecessary explanation, but too sharp a point can hurt.
How to know if your messages are mean? Read before you send- maybe aloud- and think about how you might give the message if you were speaking instead of writing. Maybe you’d add things like “if you can’, ‘I hope this will work’, ‘thanks for getting to this’, ‘I know this is last minute’, ‘I really appreciate your help’, or just an old fashioned please or thank you. And it doesn’t hurt to throw in a chit-chat phrase or two: ‘Just what we need on a busy Monday, right?” or “Here we go again!”