Last week I had a major revelation at lunch with Maia Beatty. Â We say all the time to “write like you talk” but we never deal with the other side. Which is Read Like You Listen. Â Think about that for a moment. That is seriously powerful stuff! Â Instead of reading an email in your own “voice” if you will, you need to read it in theirs. Â Still not sure what I mean? Â Let’s use an example.
A friend of mine sent an email to someone and said something sarcastic. It is difficult to be sarcastic in email but in her head, it was hilarious. Â When it was received, the person took it at face value – in their head they weren’t being sarcastic. And the ensuing conversation was all kinds of trouble for no reason. Â In fact, when I was shown the email I immediately pointed out the first person was being sarcastic and suddenly the receiver felt very foolish. Â Her reason was she was busy and stressed at work when she read it, so she read it from her point of view – in her voice.
So what’s the point? Â Well, when you read an email from someone you know, read it in their voice if you can. Â It will help interpret things so much better. Â If you don’t know the person, assume formality. There’s nothing worse than thinking someone is joking when they aren’t. Â Awkward! Â And when writing an email, keep in mind the person receiving it won’t start in your voice – they start in theirs. Â So even if they know you well, they may not think about that right off. Â Since I’ve had my revelation I have sent a couple emails with instructions at the top to read it as if I was saying it. Â The feedback has been hilarious – people said the emails got much funnier because I am funny. I’m not even there!
What other tips do you have in our digital media world to help people avoid this kind of problem?