The only difference between these two sentences is the word finally. And yet each sentence carries very different meanings. The second one, with the word finally, implies that someone has been waiting a while for Raymond’s response. Adding the word finally shows exasperation and impatience. These may be appropriate responses because Raymond was unresponsive despite several requests and his response should not have taken as long as it did. Or, Raymond may have been working diligently on his response and the person sending this email was unsympathetic. In which case, the sender has infected the receiver of this message with their disdain for the length of time it took Raymond to respond. Furthermore, and this happens, Raymond may someday see this message and become insulted by the tone.
Here are two more:“Brian, did you get a chance to work on those numbers I need?” “Brian, did you get a chance to work on those numbers I need? I requested them four days ago.”
Sentence One is relatively benign. It states a simple request in a polite way but reminds Brian that the numbers are, indeed, needed. It is gentle. Sentence Two, however, not only reminds Brian that the numbers are needed but makes it clear to him the the sender is counting the number of days that he/she is waiting for the numbers. This more aggressive reminder is fine as long as Brian knew up front that there was an urgency to the sender’s request.
Two more:“Just a reminder…there will be no employee photos in the next newsletter.” “I thought I answered this in the meeting today, but there will be no employee photos in the next newsletter.”
Sentence One is a soft way to answer a question that has already been answered. Sentence Two is a passive-aggressive way to admonish employees for not paying attention during the meeting where this question was already answered.
Words mean things…..specific things. Every single word in the English language conveys a certain meaning. Words sometimes have only subtle differences but the brain will register those differences. This is not always a conscious effort. In fact, the brain processes words so quickly that it is our subconscious that does much of the interpretation. And your subconscious will note the nuances between words like employee and worker, ASAP and soon, issue and huge mistake, shocked and surprised. In email communications, in particular, it is important to be very specific in the message you are trying to send. Sarcasm, irony, tone, and humor do not convey well in emails or other written communication. It is best to remain neutral in writing and use personal communication to convey emotion.
Avoid “killer” words that may send a message you did not intend. Do not write the way you speak. And be very specific about what you want someone to do. Remember that kindness and patience often get you more cooperation than a biting demand. There are times when a caustic response or a direct urgent request is required. In those cases pick up the phone or choose your words very carefully while writing an email.