There's been more than a few times that a seemingly-benign text or email I sent was taken the wrong way, leaving me to wonder why the person I sent that "too busy to meet now" email to is glaring at me from across the office because they thought I was blowing them off.
Miscommunications like this have been an issue for many people, as more and more conversations take place through email and texts rather than face-to-face. The problem is that nonverbal communication, which is such a vital part of face-to-face conversations, is lost with email.
This means sarcasm rarely makes sense, jokes tend to be taken the wrong way, and quick responses often come off as terse or rude.
Well, there's a new download called ToneCheck that reviews your emails before you send them, checking specifically for phrases that may be perceived as angry or passive-aggressive.
The free download is still in beta testing, and is currently only available for Microsoft Outlook. I don't know how well it works or if it would be embraced by users, but it does illustrate the growing trend for social media (and yes, I'm including email in this category) management tools.
Think about the rise in programs like Your Twitter Karma, ReFollow, HootSuite, and now ToneCheck. Many of the new products and services we're seeing aren't necessarily new social networks, but new ways of working with and monitoring existing social media outlets.
Obviously, double-checking that email (especially to the coworker you're already on thin ice with) is equally effective. But if ToneCheck takes off, we could see plenty more social management tools hit the market, and ones that are geared towards the more popular text-based social networks like Twitter or Facebook.
Until then, if you have a clever pun or sarcastic comment you just have to get out, it's probably a good idea to make sure that sarcasm is made clear.