Leading with positivity in your text messages

As much as I like the Voice Rule, a lot of communication these days is via text.  And because everyone’s got their own brain weasels, small details matter.

You’ve probably already heard that periods can totally change the tone of your text message (for the worse), but when you strip out all the non-text elements of communication, even something encouraging can sound iffy or worse.

You might think that a small difference in phrasing wouldn’t be a big deal, especially when you’re trying to be encouraging. That’s what I thought too, until I stopped and thought back to some of the times I’ve really misinterpreted things.


I’ve been doing something different with my texting. It’s really helped me, and it doesn’t require a whole lot of energy or overhead.

I’ve been leading with positivity.

I’m using “leading” in the sense that one “leads” their shot with a gun – you aim where the target is going to be, not where it is now.  Let me use an example.

Bob is one of my favorite co-workers. I enjoy interacting with him, and he’s done a lot to make my day job better. But Bob recently saw an opportunity at another company, and texted me.  “Would you be upset if I took this job?

I could text “Well, no harm in trying. That job’s not a bad thing at all.”

On the face of it, that’s encouraging. But brain weasels could easily turn that into damning with faint praise. So instead, I replied:

“Dude! That sounds like a perfect job for you! Go for it! Now! Don’t text me back, apply now!”

Yeah, I overstated my position a bit. And if I said that out loud, it’d sound kind of silly.

But there was no way Bob’s brain weasels could misinterpret that message, and it took far less effort for me to text that way than to clarify things later on.

Give it a shot!

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