Exclaim Yourself!

“Your excessive use of exclamation points in this email makes you appear overly anxious to get our business.”

This was the feedback I received from a woman who hired me to speak to her professional organization in the early days—and I do mean early days—of my career.

After my embarrassment eased and I finished crying, I gave some thought to her feedback. This was my conclusion:

“Yeah, but my personality reflects that exclamation point!  I live my life based on that exclamation point! They can’t be all bad, can they?”

Well, I was right—and wrong. In written business speech, the exclamation point used more than once (if then) is like using excessive head nodding to show agreement when talking to someone face-to-face. People do not take you seriously when you show too much emotion, even if it is well intentioned.

Remember that important nonverbal cues leak through your words (even in an email) and through your body language (in person).  Be careful that your nonverbal communication is in alignment with your intentions.

By the way, I now allow myself only one exclamation point (if any) per email!