Think your tone is neutral? Think again.
I cleaned out my garage just before Christmas and wanted to get rid of a heap of stuff.
I threw some furniture and things up on the local buy and sell Facebook page – great prices, pick up fast, everybody wins.
Or that’s what I thought, until the messages started coming in.
“What’s the address”
No complete questions. No full sentences. And absolutely, 100%, no manners. Not one single please.
One person actually sent me this: “?”. I just sat and stared. My brain kept ticking over, trying to figure out what I was missing.
Eventually, I replied, “I don’t know what your question mark means.”
It wasn’t long before I started hating the world and wishing I’d given everything away.
I realised that people have no idea how rude they sound. Like, seriously no idea. And I think what we’re missing is this – when it comes to the written word, communicating messages to other humans, your tone is either warm/positive/polite or something negative. There’s no in between.
There’s no in between.
Just because your intention when writing something is to be matter of fact, and you don’t feel the need to be particularly warm or polite, doesn’t mean that’s how the message comes across.
Know this: the absence of manners in writing doesn’t come across as a neutral, factual tone. It comes across as rude. The absence of polite isn’t neutral. It’s impolite.
I was teaching a group of engineers to write better emails the week before. Part of that is the ability to state a request quickly and directly. I kept seeing “I need you to” and I kept suggesting they change it to “Can you please.” They didn’t realise that a direct request could also be a polite, friendly one.
Your mum’s been telling you since you learned to speak: use your manners. She was smart. Be a good human and use your manners in your emails and messages.
(And if you want to know more about how to write emails quickly and effectively while not sounding like a douche, sign up for my email course)