How sad. No, I mean humiliating. Or was it angry?

in Products
by Matt Neal

I’m a sucker for new technology, gadgets, apps or the like. So, when I read about Tone Check, I suspended my disbelief for a moment and prayed that somebody had in fact created a piece of software that would finally stop me from sending emails that are entirely misinterpreted by the recipient.

According to research most people are 90% sure they have interpreted an email correctly, when in reality we get it right roughly 50% of the time. In the face of such evidence I decided I needed to try this service out (plus it is free, so the decision to test was made pretty easy).

Of course, the very first thing I did was to write a deliberately offensive email to a colleague, under the guise of ‘testing’. Despite secretly hoping that it would pass the test and be sent, the Tone Check flagged up plenty of issues with my email, pointing out that large parts of the content were ‘angry’! Fair enough.

Generally though, I find that roughly 95% of my emails are flagged up as inappropriate in some way, mostly because elements of them are ‘sad’, ‘angry’ or ‘humiliating’. This may be down to the fact that we generally have to be direct and to the point so that there is no misunderstanding about what is required. However, we do believe we can be direct without being rude.

So I find myself disagreeing with the tone checker almost 100% of the time, and therefore I very quickly began to ignore it completely.

It’s not a bad concept, but in reality is more of a hindrance. It is only in beta, so feedback will help it improve, but otherwise I don’t think it will ever replace a couple of simple and basic rules: take a reasoned approach to writing your emails, and re-read them before you press send.