AN E-MAIL MAKE-OVER

by John Suler, Ph.D.

What follows is an example of a "before" and "after" message. The two are similar in terms of the surface content of what Susan is saying to Joe. However, the second one illustrates the variety of e-mail composition techniques discussed in the previous sections of this article. It shows a balance between spontaneity and thoughtful organization; empathic attentiveness to the recipient; and the expressive use of quoted text, caps, special characters, spacing, trailers, parenthetical thoughts and actions, and smileys. As such, it conveys an entirely different range of meanings and feelings that the first message:

-----------------
version 1
-----------------

Joe,
Quoting text in e-mail is something we all have to learn at some point or another. No problem. If your e-mail program doesn't automatically set up a new message with the quoted text in it, there are other ways to do it. One way is like this. Open the e-mail I sent to you. Create a new (blank) e-mail to send to me. Use your mouse to select and copy the text from the e-mail I sent you. Insert that copied text into the new e-mail message. Add in whatever new text you want into the message to send to me. This is easy to do on a Mac. I think you're working on a PC, right? It should be pretty easy for you too, though the steps might be slightly different. Let me know how it works out. Have a great time on your vacation. We were supposed to leave for vacation last week, but our car broke down. Something to do with the transmission. It's at the dealers now being fixed. It will probably cost an arm and a leg. But that doesn't matter. You know us. We have lots of money.
- Susan

-----------------
version 2
-----------------

Hello Joe!

Working on the paper together through e-mail is a great idea. My trouble is that I don't know how to add onto your e-mail, though I've seen others respond to my e-mails by just writing below what I had written. I'm sure it's a1-2-3 type of thing, so if you give me a hand I'd really appreciate it. I'm such a dolt!«

LOL! Hey! It's something we all have to learn at some point or another. No prob. If your e-mail program doesn't automatically set up a new message with the quoted text in it, there are other ways to do it. One way is like this:

 

open the e-mail I sent to you
create a new (blank) e-mail to send to me
use your mouse to select and copy the text from the e-mail I sent you
insert that copied text into the new e-mail message
add in whatever new text you want into the message to send to me

Voila. This is easy to do on a Mac. I think you're working on a PC, right? It should be pretty easy for you too, though the steps might be slightly different. Let me know how it works out.

Otherwise all is going well here. We're headed to the beach for our vacation next week. We're looking forward to it. We need some time off from work.>>

Have a GREAT time! :-) .... (feeling jealous).... We were *supposed* to leave for vacation last week, but our car broke down. Something to do with the transmission. It's at the dealers now being fixed. It will probably cost an arm and a leg. But that doesn't matter. You know us....we.... uh... (cough)...have LOTS of money. ;-)

hands in holes in pockets,
Susan

1/8/99

John Suler, PhD, is Professor of Psychology at Rider University and a practicing clinical psychologist. He has published on psychotherapy, mental imagery, and eastern philosophy. He currently maintains several web sites.

 

Please help support our SelfhelpMagazine mission
so that we may continue serving you.
Choose your
support amount here:  
 

Back