Orangeville, ON (James Doan) Erica Dhawan, author of Digital Body Language, believes I should use more exclamation marks! Oops, “…more exclamation marks!!!!” would have been better. “The return of the exclamation mark,” she says, “is one of the most epic comebacks in punctuation history—and it’s a cautionary tale for those of us who don’t intuitively keep up with the times.” Without exclamation marks, she argues, you might consider me cold, ruthless, withholding—or a dinosaur!
In the book’s first 150 pages, she assumes there’s only one acceptable personality in business: friendly. I disagree. “Businesslike” has as much validity as chumminess. I rarely bubble with excitement in real life, so why should I in emails? With clients, it hasn’t hurt me that I’m typically polite and restrained.
She argues that communication should always put the other party at ease, according to the recipient’s perceptions. If the other side is insecure or needy, that’s your challenge to solve. Again, I disagree. If I communicate clearly and civilly, I’ve done my job.
Digital interchanges can indeed trigger puzzlement or misunderstandings. But that doesn’t mean we all need to use frolicsome punctuation and emojis.