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Encourage your feminine side

Gender differences show up in those virtual conversations we hold via e-mail, according to some recent research.

If the subject is technical, the tradition is male.

Men come online to give information or give an answer, and in essence, stop the conversation.
--David Silver, Resource Center for Cyber Culture Studies

Men tend to make strong assertions.
--Susan Herring, Indiana University at Bloomington, Information Sciences and Linguistics

Male-pattern e-mail seems to be abrupt, informational, and aggressive. Men tend to start or contribute eagerly to flame wars, but otherwise aim to limit the amount of interaction.

Useful, practical, to the point--that's the masculine style.

But it's a bit off-putting in an e-mail to a puzzled, upset, angry, or anxious consumer.


E-mail responses to customers, chapter from Hot Text, Web Writing that Works (PDF, 995K, or about 18 minutes at 56K)

The feminine approach to e-mail is to soften most assertions, raise questions, make offers, offer suggestions, and throw in a lot of polite comments, to support the other person.

In all these ways, women encourage others to engage, according to professors Herring and Silver.

For guys, this style can mean slowing down, indulging in a little thought about the other person, making an effort to be agreeable, weakening any assertions about what the customer may have done or thought.

And gals, if you have been trying to be tough, direct, to the point, and technical...relax a bit. Imagine you are writing to a friend.

Women tend to use the electronic medium as an extension of the way they talk--lavishly and intimately, to connect with people and build rapport.
--Joyce Cohen, "He-Mails, She-Mails"

I'm hoping you get back to me soon, before this bug crawls all over me.


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