I read this post a couple days ago and I’m linking to it here because it has stuck in my mind. I don’t usually accept most generalizations about gender, as differences among individuals certainly outweigh gender-wide commonalities, but this idea struck me as something I seldom consider:
1. The Kindness of Word-Stretchers
Perhaps because it is associated with young women — or perhaps because it is playful — word elongation disarms. Thus, when asking a favor or making a demand, extra letters soften the blow. “I reeeally need that memo by 2 p.m., can you skip lunch?”
Not that I don’t sometimes want to seem disarming in my emails and messages, but it just has never occurred to me to do that by typing in a way that seems harmlessly juvenile. As I think this over, I guess I’d try to be disarming through the tone of my message, rather than through spelling. But perhaps 2 things: One, do women feel like they need to be disarming in tone more than men do? And two, perhaps I’m just socially awkward enough to type messages more bluntly than I need to.
I think in a professional setting, I personally try to avoid such things in my writing because they seem to be juvenile (as you stated) which doesn’t fit in a professional setting, IMO. I don’t really want to be seen as juvenile-esque, but as a fellow business person who deserves to be seen as an equal and as a professional. I think women already have a hard enough time being viewed as those, so to purposely come across as less mature may be more harmful in the long run.
If I feel there is a request I can make of someone that may require a bit of ‘softening’ so as not to come across as demanding, I’m much more likely to pick up the phone and ask, so the tone of my voice can be apologetic while my words remain professional.
But that’s just me. I work in a very male-dominated industry.
Your approach makes a lot of sense. I think that, as a recipient of such a request, I would appreciate a professional approach — if I were approached in a way that seems particularly juvenile, I might feel more defensive to the request, at some semi-conscious level. It’s like when people ask me for something by first requesting “Can you do me a favor?” I’d almost just appreciate being asked directly.
But I appreciate your perspective on this question. As a teacher, I work with other teachers, administrators, and students whose world-views, I am aware, may be quite different from my own. I try to aware of, and avoid, my own personal biases and idioms (for example, it has taken me a while to learn how few cultural references I can share with my teenaged students), but I have had to learn over the years that I’m not always as socially adept/skilled as I used to believe I was. I think I’m able to communicate effectively, but then, I know that I may not always be aware when I’m not communicating!
Oh isn’t that the truth! LOL There’s a phrase that I heard once that has proven itself true over and over.
“Just because we both speak English doesn’t mean we’re speaking the same language.” It’s so true, depending on your culture, your context, the exact same words can carry a whole heap of different meanings from one person to another!