We’ve all experienced situations where someone gets an email you wrote in haste (aren’t all emails written in haste these days?) and someone reads “affect” into it and gets bent out of shape. Long ago, when I was guilty of reading that way, a dear Hungarian professor friend of mine said, “You read faces into fire.” Which meant, “don’t judge someone’s meaning from the face he’s making”—it may have nothing at all to do with you. By the same token, don’t read emotion into email. Just read the words that are there. And, if you truly have a doubt, or feel that something is amiss, PICK UP THE PHONE and call the person to avoid this situation escalating! It’s that simple. There is still reason for viva voce communication in today’s frenetic world.

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