Weekly Tools and Tips to Improve Any Relationship

May 11, 2015

Electronic Messages—Reading Between the Lines

“Words, once they are printed, have a life of their own. ” 

-Carol Burnett

We live in an age where a large percentage of our communications are done via email and texts. It is convenient and for some, a great time saver.

The problem is, how are your messages interpreted?

Without body language to provide insight in the delivery, a misinterpreted written communication might leave the recipient feeling slighted, criticized, or belittled. An unanswered email or text might make a person feel that they are being ignored, or worse, that the recipient is angry over the content of the message. All of this can cause stress and no little resentment… to the detriment of a positive and productive relationship.

As students of the Color Code, we know that all personalities are different. Each driving core motive has needs. We are all motivated differently and conversely, we motivate differently. When receiving electronic missives, it is important for us to know the difference—and react accordingly.

Reds’ emails and texts are often interpreted as curt, unfeeling, and, let’s face it, critical. When a Red sends an email or text it is normally a “just the facts, ma’am” missive. They don’t do smiley faces emoticons or LOLs. Rarely will they ask personal questions or offer any insight into their own feelings. A Red will not respond to a text or email that doesn’t require specific response. Don’t expect an email that simply says “thanks” or “got it”.

When you can’t see a Red’s face in the delivery, the sarcasm they are famous for just seems downright mean. It might interest you to know that Reds will seem confounded if you express offense at the emails they send, because (in most cases) offense was not their intention.

When sending a Red a text or email—especially in a business setting—keep to the facts (preferably in bullet form). If responding to a Red’s bulleted email, try putting your answers directly below the bullet points he sent you. That way, you’ll know you’ve answered all questions or requests succinctly rather than in a rambling response. If a Red asks for a confirmation that you received the email, send one, but don’t otherwise waste his time with a “thanks” response.

Blues are quite different from Reds in electronic communication. Unlike Reds “less is more” does not apply. Blues are thorough, and detail conscious. You will likely receive not only and answer, but the thought process involved in coming up with the answer. They might start off with a personal note before getting to the meat of the missive—but meat there will be.

In writing, a Blue may come off as a bit sanctimonious, and the recipient may feel as if they are being judged, or worse, not given credit. Blues need to feel appreciated and might fail to see their self-righteous tone as offensive—so don’t take offense.

When sending a Blue an email, it is important to fulfill their need for detailed information. Be sure your message includes the what, where, when and how, or you will be peppered with more emails asking about the missing information. Your communications should be well-written and respectful.

Whites, like Reds, are logical and to the point. Unlike Reds, they are more thoughtful in their communications. While not motivated by emotion, they will go to great lengths to be kind and not create conflict. You may need to read between the lines to get the real message. Whites are more inclined to communicate via email or texting rather than face-to-face interaction.

Some Whites suffer from procrastination, and will put off answering your email right away. In fact, some of them should have the old adage, “If you ignore it, it will go away” on a needlepoint sampler gracing their office wall. Gentle reminders will get them going again.

When sending an email to a White, be kind, objective, and present all arguments. Whites have a great skill of seeing all sides and forming a logical conclusion. Unless you have already won a White’s trust, don’t get personal or jokey in the text.

Yellows are probably the most dynamic of the colors when it comes to email. Count on them to send you the latest joke one minute and an insightful and persuasive communication the next. A yellow is most likely to use emoticons and exclamation points. Even in the most serious of emails, they will make an appearance.

Yellows may not return your email in a timely manner—or at all. This is not a personal slight, but an indication that they have moved on to other things they deem more important or interesting. A reminder that you are awaiting a reply should bring you back to the top of the list.

When sending an email to a Yellow, be specific about what you want and possibly more important, when you want it. Be upbeat, positive, but firm–and always emphasize that you appreciate their contribution.

Before you jump to conclusions remember we all have different methods of communication. Without a smile, a wink, or even a scowl, we don’t have the benefit of facial expressions or body language to help us interpret the emotion behind a message. The best thing to do, for the receiver and the sender, is to take into account the possibility that we all have different methods of sending and receiving messages, both literally and emotionally. Think it through before you let a simple misunderstanding ruin an otherwise healthy relationship. CC



Picture 1Teresa Glenn has been working with the Color Code since 2006, where her main focus is product development. She has been in the publishing and product development field for over 20 years. Teresa is a core Red with a strong Yellow secondary.