translating tone in these days of email and texting

Sometimes when I read a text or email from a friend or colleague, I find myself getting defensive and paranoid. I assume brevity or certain punctuation to mean that they are irritated with me in some way. Allow me to give examples of how my brain works:

I send an email or text that contains a decent amount of information because I am a communicator who is obsessed with detail.

1) I receive “OK” as a response and I translate that to mean that the person is yelling at me because it’s in all caps, not taking into account that OK is technically an abbreviation and should be in all caps.

or

2) I receive “ok” as a response and I translate that to mean that the person is annoyed with me and is being passive aggressive.

or

3) I receive “okay!” as a response and I translate that to mean that the person loves me forever and ever.

Now all of these translations are completely my own and have nothing to do with any person’s intention when he/she sent me that one single word. But I know I’m not alone! We all have our own brain filters through which we read the hundreds of messages we get every day. I try to catch myself when I start making up things that aren’t there in black and white.

Less paranoid when reading and more careful when writing, that’s the way to go these days.

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