Ha! Yes! I’m talking today about “Authenticity and the Exclamation Point”.
Last month, Nikki Waller, an editor at the Wall Street Journal dished about her month-long experiment in cutting out all exclamation points from her messages and emails. The article about her project, “She’s Not Mad, She’s Just Not Using Exclamation Points” is behind a paywall, but if you’re a WSJ subscriber and a woman who has to communicate for business, it’s worth reading.
The bottom line–dropping an exclamation point can make people think you’re less than congenial. Here’s one of her bits of wisdom:
Better to conclude an email with “Thanks!”? Or will “Thanks.” suffice? No human is that excited in real life, but it can be easier to write “Looking forward to getting that spreadsheet!” rather than risk sounding cold or unfriendly.
We authors are told we must be authentic, in what we write, in our social media posts, gosh, even in our headshots. (Much cheating with hair, makeup, and lighting is allowed with headshots, just don’t substitute a completely different person for your persona–I’ve seen that done!)
I’m bringing this topic up because I have been an Abuser of the Exclamation Point in my emails and messages. I self-edit for the usual their/they’re type of error, and then I go back and review my punctuation. Do I really need to end every sentence with an exclamation point?
Well, no, but I do often find I need a lot of them.
They say that when you’re feeling glum, you can change your state of mind by smiling. Smiling lifts your mood. So do exclamation points. When I’m in a slump, and interrupting my exasperating work-in-progress to shoot an email to a reader or post something on Facebook, an exclamation point helps “change my state”. A lot! See how that works?
I’m always balancing authenticity with the need for boundaries and privacy, especially when requested by my family members. I hate sharing bad news in progress–there’s enough depressing and negative stuff to be found on social media, so when things are tough in my world, I tend to not share much.
And things have been tough for the last several months. I’ve mentioned in a few posts that my husband has been very ill all summer with heart problems that have kept me busy. The good news? It looks like he’ll be headed for surgery soon!
While I’m balancing all the medical stuff (my priority) with the release of Avenging the Earl’s Lady on November 12th, and finishing another book for an editing deadline this month, I’ll be taking a few weeks off from posting new material here.
Meanwhile, dear reader, tell me: are you an Exclamation Point Abuser also? Do you suspect people who use periods are cold and unfriendly? Inquiring minds want to know!