Wednesday, March 19, 2014
The working life: It's a fine line between serious and ditzy
So you guys! You know what?! Sometimes! I like to use! Exclamation points!
I use them in work emails and I also use little smiley faces with customers I know well!
Because sometimes, when you write something, you might come across as way too direct and maybe harsh and you think, "A 'Bye' and an exclamation point will take the edge off that part of, 'We are awaiting your payment of the invoice we sent four months ago' or 'We have been talking about this deal for two months. Are you going to sign or what? If what, then quit wasting my time!'"
So I thought about my exclamation point use and thought maybe I was overdoing it a bit. I don't want to be the person with the multiple fonts and the ALL CAPS. I want to be cordial and pleasant and polite. I didn't want to be all! excited! all! the! time!
I decided to eliminate the exclamation point from my lexicon. (Is that the right word? Or does "lexicon" mean just words? Can it include punctuation? I don't know and I am too lazy to do any research on it. I am descriptive when it comes to language, btw.)
My writing became more modulated. I was not excited. I was not full of drama.
Which was fine. I am actually not a dramatic person, I don't think. I am rather low key. I have been told I come across as very serious and intimidating, which is completely bizarre to me, because most of the time, I am convinced that the people around me are going to realize that I am completely unqualified to be doing what I am doing and they will fire me for gross incompetence. It's not intimidating - it's nearsighted plus being preoccupied about the conversation I have just had with my boss about Why aren't I meeting my numbers? and What are my plans to improve things?
1. I am not meeting my numbers because I am not the person who set the numbers in the first place.
2. My plans to improve things are to actually do some market research before we develop new products instead of after.
I digress. I decided not to use exclamation marks at all. I was going cold turkey on the exclamation points. No more.
Then my friend Julie from book club posted on facebook that they had no water in their house because the water main on their street had broken and it was going to be hard to repair because it had been below zero for several days and it's kind of hard to get to buried water pipes in sub-zero temperatures.
This was a dire statement.
It merited drama. It merited excitement.
What it did not merit from me was the comment, "Oh no."
I know. You look at that and think, "CF, but where is your compassion? Where is your sympathy? Where is your concern? WHERE IS YOUR EXCLAMATION POINT?"
I shake my head and then I hang it in shame. I did not give Julie's situation the recognition it deserved. This was an exclamation-point worthy statement. This was dramatic! This was big!
I learned my lesson. Sometimes, an exclamation point is what you need. Not always - not usually - but sometimes. Sometimes, life requires some drama.