The 30-Day No Snarky Email Challenge

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  • May 10, 2011
  • Kari Hernandez

Tone it up with six simple steps – no squats or sit-ups involved!

My husband says I’m a tone fanatic.  It makes him crazy that I typically end up focusing on the tone rather than the content of his argument.  (This does not typically result in him using a nicer tone, by the way.) My two-year-old daughter recently answered a request with, “Mommy, ask me again nicely and say please and I will.”  So apparently I’ve rubbed off early.  It’s not just what you say but how you say it, right?  I’m in PR for goodness sake!

In my work environment, it’s not the oral communication that I worry about as much as the written – specifically, work satisfaction enemy #1: snarky emails.  I pride myself that INK is a very low drama work environment.  If INK were a president, it would be No Drama Obama. However we, too, get sucked in to the epidemic of snarky emails, and of reading too much into the tone of emails we receive from others.

In the world of email, it is nearly impossible to accurately read tone and I find that my default reaction – and I think this is the case with many people – is to too quickly assume a negative connotation. And I’ll admit, I’ve sent a few snarks in my day which is why I, along with the rest of INK, will be taking and inviting you to join us in the 30–day No Snarky Email Challenge.  Here are the rules:

1. Be direct and honest.
2. Expect emails you receive to be direct and honest.  Try to read them in a positive tone or just don’t read into them.
3. If you’re addressing a problem, address it in person or by phone. If it’s not important enough to talk about, maybe it’s not that important.
4. If you’re certain someone else is sending you snarky emails, pick up the phone or walk in their office and address what’s at the root of that. See #1 for what to say.
5. Focus your energy on doing a good job.  If you accomplish this, chances are you will have an easier time with all of the above.
6. (This is a toughie.) Don’t use emoticons. Adding a 😉 to the end of a bitter comment doesn’t fool anyone.

After 30 days, let’s see if we don’t feel happier, more confident and have better working relationships than when we started.  Come on, you know you’ve got some snark to lose 😉 (oops, ok starting now).