Blog Entries:

Some posts from The Methodology Blog around the time of A Forwarded Threat

Archives by Subject:

More Resources

A Forwarded Threat

Monday, January 11, 2010 by Slaughter Development

Companies use email to communicate on just about every imaginable topic, from party announcements to corporate decisions. But it’s still surprising to see an email that contains an underlying use of threatening language.

Here’s a few lines from a message that was anonymously forwarded to Slaughter Development:

Please look at the attached list and make sure you know what day and time you are scheduled for the [REDACTED] Training. This training will be two hours so please plan the rest of your day accordingly.

Please remember, this is a MANDATORY training.  As was stated in a previous email re: [REDACTED] Training, “staff members are going to be held accountable for not attending meetings, or arriving late.  This will include corrective action plans, written reprimands and if not corrected could result in termination.”

When reading this email, one thing is clear: its phrasing is definitely a threatening and caustic choice of words. Though both paragraphs start with the word “please,” the expectations of gentility and politeness turn sour in the brutal, underlying tone. In fact, much of the language is the textbook definition of passive-aggressive. For example, the remark: “this training will be two hours so please plan the rest of your day accordingly,” clearly implies that the author assumes those who receive the email are unable to manage their own time without explicit reminders.

Furthermore, the use of all capital letters (which is typically not considered effective employee communication) in a way belittles employees as it projects a sense of reprimand and shouting. Additionally, the author has told the employees (twice) that if they do not meet expectations, they will be punished. When proving a point, quoting yourself can be helpful; however, in this instance, restating an open threat merely relays doubt in both employee listening and understanding.

The way in which you talk to employees not only influences their satisfaction at work, but also impacts their overall productivity. Words matter. Check back tomorrow when The Methodology Blog will rewrite the above note using positive, empowering language.

Don’t forget to sign up for the next session in the 2010 Productivity Series which covers email productivity!

❖ ❖ ❖

Like this post? Here are some related entries from The Methodology Blog you might enjoy:

From Threat to Request - In yesterday’s edition of The Methodology Blog, we reviewed a poorly-worded email message from management. Today, we will show how to rewrite that same text so that it fosters satisfaction and productivity. Read on »
Process Automation and Morale - The local Indianapolis telephone services company, Interactive Intelligence, has announced “communications-based process automation.” The offering sounds great for management, but what about for employees? Read on »
Replacing Chainj for Change? - Though it consists of merely six letters, one of the most straightforward words in the English language is C-H-A-N-G-E.  Yet two prominent groups see a need for further simplification of this term. Read on »
Want to learn more? Register now for the 2011 Productivity Series

Leave a Reply

Switch to our mobile site