Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cyptic e-mails

A large part of the first impressions you create on others come from posture, expression, eye-contact and gestures. Studies indicate that 55% of communication happens through body language, 38% through tone (paralanguage), while just 7% happens through words. Being in a profession where I need to communicate through e-mails with people from different walks of life, professions, ages and gender, I have come to believe that e-mails too exude body language and a major part of the message can be comprehended through the sender’s choice of font, font size, punctuation marks, spacing etc. It is interesting to read between the lines and understand the sender’s mood and emotions. Short forms used in the e-mails like u, v, 2, 4, wanna, luv, ur indicate that the sender is a carefree and casual person and is not very serious about the message or, in short, at this moment you are not taken very seriously by the sender. A mail festooned with gestures like smiles, frowns, etc reflects the emotive mood of the sender — jovial or gloomy.
On the other hand, a mail complete with all the punctuation marks and appropriate spacing between words and paragraphs not only emanate the professional attitude of the sender but also indicates that he or she is ‘to the point’. It also conveys that the sender is a kind of person who values the relationship. A simple, unambiguous and brief mail with clear queries points towards the sincerity and no nonsense nature.
A mail addressed to you by your first name specifies intimacy and conveys that the sender is keen on building a rapport with you whereas a mail beginning with the message or a simple ‘hi’ connotes that you are one amongst many and don’t have a special place in the sender’s heart. Some of the mails are quite challenging and one needs to go over it a few times to understand things left unsaid. This is particularly true of a mail written fully in upper cases (caps). It may mean one of the two things — either the sender is yelling at you for something or the Caps Lock key was left on by mistake!

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