We’ve all experienced it, right? We get an email from someone, and we aren’t sure how to interpret what they’ve typed. When someone sends a message that isn’t clear, it’s easy to wonder if they intended it to be a joke, or if it was supposed to come across as harsh as it was written.
For example, if I type, “Ohhhh hell no!” in an email, it is a joke. Here in Atlanta we often say that in a very sarcastic tone. It is meant to be funny, as if someone was saying, “Are you kidding me?” Those two statements mean almost the same thing. However, if you don’t live here in the southern part of the States, and if someone typed, “Ohhhh hell no!” to you in an email, you might think they were being aggressive or upset in their communication.
I remember last year at this time I got into an Internet argument (for lack of a better word) with someone who is a very, very dear friend of mine. In the end, 99% of that problem was caused by each of us not understanding the tone and words that were typed in emails back and forth. Since then, he and I have gotten much closer and because we know each other so well, we don’t have these problems anymore. However, before you get to know someone well, it is easy to have online miscommunications.
I’ve written about this situation in probably a dozen articles on Bit Rebels. My two favorite ones that really address this problem are 4 Tips For Handling A Spat With An Internet Friend and 10 Reasons Not To Block Someone On Twitter. So, what do we do about this problem? We could become boring droids and only type in perfect exact English, using no humor or fun phrases so the opportunity for miscommunications would be minimal. We could also become international diplomacy experts and be overly cautious; thus not being ourselves when we communicate online. Or, the best solution in my opinion, is to use a new, free email plug-in called ToneCheck.
I remember reading about ToneCheck last summer, and at that time, they had beta testers and were far away from launching an effective, useful product. At that time, it sounded good in theory, but wasn’t working so well, or at least that was my assessment after trying it. However, in the early part of 2011, they will be launching their newest version, which is supposedly super kick ass.
We all use spell check to ensure that our spelling is correct, right? What about the tone? That is where ToneCheck comes in. It gives you an emotional rating on what you’ve typed which shows you how that sentence can be interpreted. The scale starts at “Affection/Friendliness” and goes all the way down, step-by-step through eight emotions, ending at “Humiliation/Shame.” I’m excited to check out the new version soon!
This image shows the plug-in installed in Outlook; however, the new version, which will be launched soon, will accommodate many popular email clients.