Archive for June 2010

The E - Slap

A friend and I were talking about delivering reprimands and homilies over email. It brought back memories of when I was still working full time. I worked as a senior manager and had a lot of email traffic. There were many demands, disguised as 'requests' that came my way. Mostly from headquarters. Now I was known as a bit of a firebrand at the work place. In fact, one one occassion, a colleague even branded me as 'Ms. Thunderbolt'. Naturally, my email communication matched my image. I developed a writing style that came to be known as the 'E-Slap'. A few examples:

If I wrote 'I'm surprised at...' it meant 'I'm pissed off!'. If I wrote ' I'm distressed...' it meant 'I'm enraged!'. If I wrote 'You will agree that...' it meant 'I don't want any arguments'. 'Thanks in advance for doing this' usually meant 'saying no is not acceptable'. And if I was REALLY displeased, then instructions over email would end with '...this is non negotiable'!

I thought I was camouflaging my feelings pretty well behind all those professional sounding words. Little did I realise how transparent I was. At a national level meeting, amidst discussions on e-governance and other 'E' stuff, matters took a humourous turn. A colleauge took my name tag - you know, the clip-on variety. It was cicular in shape. He flipped it over to the blank side and went to work with his pen. A while later, he handed it back to me with a huge smile. It carried the sketch of a hand with 'E-Slap' written across it. When I looked confused, the group broke out laughing. 'Its what you do when you said stinker emails.' they said.

E-Slap?! I didn't take offence. Was rather amused actually. It was an apt description of the way I expressed displeasure through email. Rarely had an appraisal gone by without reference to 'my tone' or 'communication style'.

Its not that I meant to be rude. It was a combination of factors. First, I did not suffer fools gladly. Second, the email represented me. I had to ensure that the words expressed what I FELT. And last - I (unfortunately) had an excellant command over the English language (please excuse my immodesty). All of which converged in a resounding 'E-Slap'!

There was a lighter side to this infamy. People in HQ thought twice before messing with me. Peers, on occassion, appreciated the 'E-Slaps' (naturally not the ones directed at them!). 'You said what we wanted to'. And come to think of it, if they could tease me about it, then they must have realised that my bark was worse than my bite!

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