Lee's 'Better Communication Results' blog

A blog to help YOU communicate better for better business results!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Why reading your email before sending it is so important

Here's something interesting: yet again research seems to support my original conjecture.

I have long held that before sending an email with a joke in it (or a sarcastic comment, or a pun, or similar) you should always read the email to yourself out loud.

Now research seems to be supporting me in this.

According to research by Prof. Justin Kruger at Illinois's Urbana-Champaign, and shortly to be printed up in the JPSP, we overestimate that our audience will find our witty bon-mot as equally delightful as we do.

Kruger suggests we can counter this "everyday egocentrism" (the natural tendency to see things from our own perspective) by reading aloud, in a dead-pan voice, the email we are about to send, or at least in a tone inconsistent with the intended message.

Kruger found that by forcing participants to read aloud their message first, a lot of overconfidence disappeared.

Great advice. Perhaps by reading the emails aloud first you will be less likely to have that fantastic joke fall flat, or have the world laugh at you, not with you (Heinz said they'd help clean up).

Source: Kruger, J., Epley, N., Parker, J., & Ng, Z. (in press). Egocentrism over e-mail: Can people communicate as well as they think? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology