We all have sent an email, a tweet or posted on Facebook. But are others getting the message we are trying to send?
In one study, participants were asked to send an email conveying either saracasm, humor, seriousness or sadness. They then sent the email, and the receivers had to guess what the sender was trying to express.
90% of the time, the sender thought the receiver would get their intended meaning. But, only 60% of the time the receiver could accurately guess which emotion the sender was trying to portray.
There are two sides to this. The sender is in a unique position of being able to know exactly what he or she is meaning. In turn, what makes sense to the sender doesn't necessarily make sense to receiver, because the receiver has less information; but, the sender thinks it does.
On the receiver side, it is also extremely difficult to discern what someone means without non-verbal cues. Shrugs of the shoulder, hand expressions, and facial reactions play a huge role in our normal oral communication. But, none of this is available on Twitter or Facebook or in an email (or a Psychology Today post!). And, calamity can issue.
So, next time you are sending an email or tweet, it might be a good idea to consider that the people receiving it could misunderstand what you are trying to express, largely because they can't see your face or your body language. What seems like clear sarcasm to you, for instance, could be taken seriously by them.
Your job or friendship, or even public reputation, could depend on it.