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Communicating Via Email - Part One

Informal Communications

Aug 4, 2000

After all these weeks together, I feel that we have reached a level in our relationship where I can share the intimate details of my life. (and you didn't think the old Postmeister even had a life, did you!?!?!?)

So here goes. . .I have a confession to make. . .Mr. & Mrs. Posty met. . .on-line!!

(go ahead, giggle. . .I'll wait. . .) Are you better? Great. . .then I will continue.

It wasn't a case of either of us surfing the net for babes, or lurking in seedy chatrooms waiting for someone on whom to pounce. . .we bumped into each other in a mutual-interest forum and the rest is history. Well, not exactly, as there was a hugely awkward hurdle we had to surmount before we got to make history, and that is the point of this dissertation.

You see, Mr. & Mrs. Posty lived in different countries. And it was a drag! Neither of us had the ability to completely stop our lives and move to the other country just to hang out and date, so we had to rely on. . .you guessed it. . .email as the primary means of communication between us for the first year.

I say this partially to share the intimate parts of myself to you and partly to illumine the fact that I know a bit about communicating via this medium. . .we sent over three million words to each other in the first year alone! Thus, I speak to you from a place of authority. . .I have more than been there and done that!

So what did I learn? Oh, so many, many things. Here is the top of my list on informal communication (more on the more formal variety later):

Don't Assume!

Email is a convenient, instantaneous, amazing form of communication, but it has its dangers, too. Assuming that someone can "sense" your emotion or facial expression or intent can get you into all kinds of trouble. Make sure that you re-read your email from the perspective of your correspondent before sending it to avoid misinterpretation. Taking a few moments to make sure everything sounds like you want it to can avoid heaps of problems later.


If something is very important, don't take any chances. . .clarify your emotions/feelings/temperament, etc. with an introductory phrase or statement. For example:

[I am not angry, or upset. . .I am quietly sitting here thinking about the choices we are making and want to suggest an alternative. I am not married to this idea, just want to put it on the table for discussion.] What do you think about having 2 kids instead of 10?

It may seem like overkill, but when you are forced by circumstances into writing something really important, you want to make sure that you include all of the non-verbal cues you would normally have in a face-to-face discussion.


You gain something great when you communicate via email that simply cannot occur when writing via snail-mail. . .the instancy of discussion. Take advantage of it!

So many people treat email like letter-writing, when it is really a cross between letter-writing and speaking. Because you can send and receive emails in a matter of seconds, this medium lends itself to continual discussion.

Design a format to use with your correspondent and then let the communication fly! We used the arrow method-no arrows for the current thought, single arrows meant the last thing someone said, double arrows were the last thing you said, and so on:

He originally wrote: So, where do you think we should live?
Her email looked like this: >So, where do you think we should live?<

I've thought about the mountains or by the ocean, but not in a city. . .what do you think?

He wrote back: >>So, where do you think we should live?<<
>I've thought about the mountains or by the ocean, but not in a city. . .what do you think?<

I wouldn't mind either, though I think I would prefer the mountains. Maybe somewhere near Tahoe.

And so on. . .using a method like this keeps the conversation going and reminds your correspondent what the topic is that you are discussing. Find a way to denote each person's part in the conversation and then discuss away!!!

Develop Your Own Language!

For more informal correspondence, you can speed up and humanize the email medium by developing your own ways of expressing things. Everyone knows about the plethora of smileys, but go beyond that.

Want to give a hug? Try ((((((((Posty))))))))

A tiny smooch? xxxPostyxxx or >>>Posty<<<

Various expressions? >blush<   >cringe<   >gasp<

Be creative. Decide on and use your own special symbols so that you can "type" your non-verbal cues.

Be Honest!

Some folks told us that using email wasn't a decent way to get to know someone. I do believe that there are a few insecure people who claim to be models or body-builders, or famous writers or billionaires technogods, but for true communication, you have to be honest. For me and my significant other, we almost went overboard sharing our faults in the first few months because we wanted to make sure that neither was harboring any illusions about the other.

This concept doesn't just apply to romantically link folks, though, but for all developing friendships. At some point, if you have stretched the truth about your financial status or waist size or whatever, you are going to be hit with the realization that your new friend doesn't really know you and the relationship will dwindle. Be truthful about who you are and what interests you have and you can, perhaps, generate a strong, lasting, interesting friendship. Even with someone across the world.

Stay tuned for more on Communicating Via Email. . .next week we will look at some tips on more formal forms of communication.

Previous Posty's Notes:

  • Jul 28, 2000 - "Unified Messaging Systems"
  • Jul 21, 2000 - "What's In A Name"
  • Jul 14, 2000 - "A Study on Excellence" -'s Select Sites
  • Jun 30, 2000 - Personal Information Managers
  • Jun 16, 2000 - Free Online Invitations
  • May 26, 2000 - Free Email, Past, Present & Future
  • May 01, 2000 - Relaunch of


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