Have you ever edited an email or text message before hitting “send” in an effort to trim down your exclamation point use? Most of us have.
I love this Tweet from Grace Segers because it shows just how much brain power many of us (especially women) allocate to writing emails that strike just the right balance between friendly, but not “too friendly.” Personable, but not “unprofessional.” Warm, but not “too excited.”
Where did our obsession with exclamation-point censorship come from, and why are we wasting precious headspace on editing the emotion out of our emails?
Still not convinced that this topic takes up an inordinate amount of headspace? Just look at this chart from HubSpot that’s meant to guide when it’s appropriate to use an exclamation mark.
According to the chart, of 15 possible scenarios, only 4 qualify for exclamation point use, half of which include someone being on fire.
Really, we’re only reserving the use of the exclamation point for when people are on fire?!
Does this all feel a little extreme? Do we really need to fixate on curbing our enthusiasm? And why do we think it makes us look stupid, or like we’re not to be taken seriously?
Why exclamation points matter
Here’s the thing: there is emotion in this life, which means there are many times when sentences should not end in a period.
Plus, so much of our communication now takes place via email, text, DM, chats, Slack, etc., that we already risk losing a lot of nuance in translation, especially when we try to censor emotion.
I mean, which of these statements feels more believable and human to you?
“I’m really excited about this.”
“I’m really excited about this!”
“It was great to meet you.”
“It was great meeting you!”
I would prefer to receive the second option any day.
Ready to join the campaign?
Words are powerful tools, but in written communication we often need more support when conveying emotions and feelings. It’s one of the reasons why emojis have become so popular in texting — they’re universal symbols that help us more accurately express ourselves. Even my senior parents enjoy using them.
So, this is my campaign to bring back the exclamation point and, along with it, our ability to express and receive emotion without constant editing or judgment. There’s a lot to exclaim about, so let’s kick the monotone and add a little humanity to our emails!
Who’s with me?
What’s your approach to using exclamation points? Do you actively try to censor their use, or prefer to let ’em rip? Let me know in the comments, and drop a few claps if you thought this post was worth reading.