AMENITY LOUNGE SATURDAY 1-4PM
Just a friendly reminder we will be having a birthday party for our son in the amenity lounge on Saturday from 1-4PM. We know the space can’t be reserved, so we hope this doesn’t interfere with anyone’s plans!
Thanks so much!
If this opener made you want to vomit in your mouth, then happy 2019! JK this isn’t a 2019 post, but I feel kinda guilty for not writing to you about “goals,” so I snuck that in there to fit in with the rest of your inbox.
Today’s article will be the teardown you’ve been missing while you were on vacay, secretly wishing someone would send you an email teardown. YOU’RE WELCOME.
So let’s talk about what’s wrong with how I opened this article and that insane ALL CAPS subject line.
There’s a listserv for my apartment complex that people use to reserve our amenity lounge. You are not allowed to reserve the amenity lounge. I should have opened with that. But if you’d like to do it anyway, you email the listserv with the above vomit-in-your-mouth scrpit that everyone just cuts and pastes each week.
Let’s start with my personal favorite point
BUT CONTEXT MATTERS. DON’T SCREAM AT ME IF
Ok, next, let’s talk about what’s wrong with, “Just a friendly reminder.”
IF YOU’RE SINCERELY BEING FRIENDLY YOU DON’T NEED TO PREFACE IT!
(See, all caps works there.)
This person means, “Listen, assholes, I reserved this amenity room. If you planned to be in here, change your plans.” Except they said it in code. This is the opposite of friendly.
So is this: “We hope this doesn’t interfere with anyone’s plans!”
Folks, this is what’s called “passive aggression.” It’s the world’s least effective communication strategy, but continues to be used all the time, by everyone, everywhere.
We transmit passive aggression (PA) from generation to generation. Mother to daughter, Boss to employee, TV show to
(But not directly, obviously.)
Passive aggression is the avoidance of direct confrontation.
It’s popular among current and ex-girlfriends, your best friend, and your new hire. It’s all the rage.
Aaaaaanyway. The problem with passive aggression as a communication strategy is not just that it’s weak, cowardly, petty, and mean. The problem is it doesn’t work.
Can you recall any instance when you employed passive aggression and it ended well for you? 🧐
NO. THE ANSWER IS NO YOU CAN’T.
God, I love all caps.
You can’t recall any because passive aggression as a strategy never ends well. It escalates a problem 100% of the time.
There are zero instances where being unclear about what you mean is an advantage.
We know how not to do this. We have the words. We all went to college and were tormented by that one teacher who insisted on removing contractions and passive voice from our sentences. CAN’T WON’T IT’S YOU’RE THEY’RE I’M MUAHAHAHA damn that feels good. STOP DISTRACTING ME ALL CAPS. HERE’S THE POINT: We know how to string together a better sentence. We choose not to.
We choose not to because passive aggression is not a condition of poor writing. It’s a symptom of low self-awareness.
To defeat passive aggression and communicate clearly and SAVE THE WORLD, we need to cultivate self-awareness.
Self-awareness: The conscious knowledge of what your true feelings, motivations, and desires are (thank you, dictionary).
You have to know what you are trying to say in order to say it. Without self-
Because the only thing passive aggression does well
Here’s how I’d rewrite that email, sans the passive aggression:
Hi Apartment Building,
My son is turning 2 and we are inviting some friends and family to celebrate. We will be using the amenity lounge from 1-4PM on Saturday.
If you do not like the sound of screaming toddlers, we recommend avoiding the amenity lounge from 1-4 on Saturday. If you’d like some cake, feel free to join us.
If you’d like to take my toddler so I can take a nap and have a beer, this is negotiable as well.
Margo, Apt 27T
PS: If you were planning to use the space that day, please text me at 123-456-7890 and let’s see if we can work something out so we can both use the lounge without interfering with each other’s plans. Thank you, again.
It’s ok to deviate from the script. Infuse your personality in there a bit. Say what you mean. Dare to be disliked.
In fact, it might be the only way forward.