This Magic Monday, we look at how we can avoid responding to digital communications with passive-aggressive language and communicate successfully.
We’ve all been there. A string of emails between a few people and something is bound to get lost in the mix. Someone asks a clarifying question, and the response is swift:
“Per my last email…”
Did anyone else feel their hackles rise a bit just then?
Especially in a primarily digital environment, whether through email or direct messaging on Teams or similar platforms, we look for ways to “politely” express irritation. Unfortunately, a majority of typical communication tends to be non-verbal: Body language, eye contact, tone of voice and inflection, and so on. Stripped down to mere text, it’s all too easy for a well-meaning “politeness” to come across as passive-aggressive. You know the language and have maybe even used it recently:
- “For future reference”
- “Bumping this to the top of your inbox”
- “Just to be sure we’re on the same page”
- “Going forward”
- And of course, “Per my last email”
A recent article on CNBC’s Make It website delves into why these phrases can make us sound passive-aggressive – and how we can improve our communication to express our true intent. Reading through the article, the suggested improvements provide reasonable ways to avoid stirring the pot with unintended (or perhaps intended) passive aggression. It shares actions like:
- Not responding to messages when angry or frustrated
- Assuming good intent
- Avoiding digital ghosting
- Showing empathy and encouragement.
Next time you feel yourself getting irritated with a client or colleague’s perceived lack of attention, take just a moment to pause, consider the situation, and what’s most important to convey. Developing simple behavioral habits like these can go a long way toward creating an unmatched experience for the recipient – and, ultimately, for yourself!