Recently, I received an email announcing the completion of a corporate merger. The dominant brand became the identity of the new corporation, and the lesser brand now “belongs to history”, according to the company CEO.
Is it just me, or does that sound a little vindictive?
Oh, I’m sure it was meant to be respectful. But I can’t help envisioning a gloating executive spiking the ball while he shouts to his opponent, “You’re history!”
Okay, that is just my imagination running wild.
However, the fact remains that with email – or any other written communications – the reader’s interpretation of the message is entirely based on individual experience and perspective. And it seems that people are more quick than ever to take offense these days…
Or maybe it’s just that everyone has plenty of social media forums in which to air their grievances online.
So, if you can’t anticipate how each reader is going to react to the message, can you avoid offending all of them? Perhaps not entirely, but you can at least minimize the possibility of unintended messages.
- Be sure to seek a second set of eyes on your copy before you finalize it. If possible, choose someone with a different background from your own; they’re more likely to bring a fresh perspective.
- When in doubt, leave it out. After the CEO informed that the merger was final and announced the name of the combined company, it was unnecessary to belabor the point about the other brand being history; that was already implied.
In communications, as in life, a little sensitivity and common sense goes a long way. If only we could enforce this rule on social media sites *sigh*