Are People Misinterpreting Your Posts?

Post by Ray 3 years ago - Google Plus social media marketing - 1 Comments

Texting misinterpretingHave you ever run into the problem of people totally misinterpreting your online comments or posts?

This week on the Lunch Bunch Show, we discussed this issue citing examples, research and tips for minimizing miscommunication.

You’ll find them all in the video and time-stamped summary below.

Online texts can be a minefield of hurt feelings and misinterpretation.

Without hearing or seeing the person on the other end, it’s hard to know whether that short quip was meant as a dismissal, sarcasm or “I’m in a rush. Get back to your later.”

Consequently, we’ve had to come up with new syntax, symbols and etiquette to minimize the chance that our quick reply doesn’t result in a quick end to a relationship.

“Without the benefit of vocal inflections or physical gestures, it can be tough to tell e-sarcastic from e-serious, or e-cold from e-formal, or e-busy from e-angry. Emoticons and exclamation points only do so much.” – Eric Jaffe

Sarcasm in particular, is a difficult sentiment to communicate online with any precision. People have resorted to using sarcasm hashtag (#sarcasm) of signing off with a smiley face or a LOL. Both of which could even add another level of disingenuousness.

Sarcasm Study:

“In a 2005 study, test participants emailed 10 statements to a recipient. Some were serious, some sarcastic.

These senders believed the recipient would correctly identify the intended emotion behind most of the messages. In fact, the recipients only identified seriousness or sarcasm 56% of the time, which isn’t much better than chance. 

When the same messages were transmitted through a voice recording, the recipient interpreted the emotion correctly 73% of the time…”


Was that comment supposed to be funny? (Video Time stamp summary) 

:10Introduction to Main Topic: “Online Miscommunication” and the “Lunch Bunch”.

2:57 Ray

Reasons why we misinterpret online messages

1. Can’t see face or hear tone of voice

2. Pressure to respond quickly because you’re pissed off or you feel an urgency to respond quickly.

3. Online friends are weak connection, so chances of misinterpreting a comment is greater because they don’t know “where you’re coming from.” These connections are easier to break from a simple misread of a text.

4:38 Randy:

All writing is subject to interpretation.

Difference online is speed, technology and personalities.

Example: Not catching “autocorrect” mistakes. Depending on the mood of the reader and their relationship with you, a small misunderstanding could blow up into something much larger.


1. Use humour as a buffer.

2. Think before you hit that “enter” key.

3. Make sure you re-read it.

7:30 Scott:

Email protection

Gmail add-on that can delay your mail: Support: Undo sending your mail

and Wecome to Gmail-Delay-Send

“Write drunk. Edit sober.” ~ Hemingway

9:20 Randy

“It’s all fun and games until someone doesn’t pick up on the sarcasm.”

Sarcasm is growing online. There’s a mob mentality where people seem to wait for something bad to happen then dive in.

There’s always a danger of a misunderstanding resulting in a broken relationship.

Deborah Rock HOA Comment

11:23 Ray

Sarcasm is hard to get across in print.

People often resort to #sarcasm or smiley faces. We write short texts online usually, which is harder to do than longer ones.

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” – Blaise Pascal


1. Be aware of your reader.

2. “Emojis”, special characters and acronyms can have different meanings in different cultures

3. Read your text aloud before publishing or sending

13:25 Scott

Miscommunication between generations

Examples of acronyms used by younger people:

9” – parents watching

99” – parent not watching

NP” – noisy parents

KIPPERS” – Kids in parent’s pockets eroding retirement savings.

We’ve become an Acronym” culture. Prefer TLA’s (Three letter acronyms).

14:46 Jess

Confidence and clarity

You can’t expect people to know what you mean if you’re not sure yourself. There are times that you may send a message then have second thoughts – but you’re unable to edit right away.

Best be confident about what you post from the beginning.

16:56 Ray

Importance of Grammar

Missy Jay HOA Comment

Example, “Let’s eat Grandma.” and “Let’s eat, Grandma.”

Placement of the comma changes the meaning of that sentence drastically.

17:27 Jess

Give a dang about slang.

Slang words tend to be localized. If you’re writing to a wide audience, best to keep the vocabulary generally understood. Use a universal style.

17:56 Randy

There’s a growing presence of “grammar and PC police” on social media.

Phil Bowyer HOA comment

People expect a response to messages within a few hours. Everyone has access to a phone, everybody’s connected, so lack of response can be taken as a personal affront.

19:40 Vivek

English is not everyone’s first language.

If your mother tongue is not english, it’s very easy to struggle with the meaning. An english as a second, third or fourth language person tends to read english text literally.



Was That Supposed to be Funny? – Lunch Bunch Show ep. 57


Minion Lunch Box

LunchBox: (Interesting articles curated by the Lunch Bunch)

21:56 Jess

Post: An Unexpected Lesson From An Unexpected Teacher

Or What Did I Just Hear You Say?

23:00 Randy

If I Could Start Social Over Again by Geoff Livingston Keeping business life outside the social space – separate the person from the business. Turn to your passion, niche. 

24:47 Scott

Identity and Reputation in the Semantic Web Verifying your identity is key by David Amerland – how Google calculates your trust score i.e. “Comment Graph”.  Also “Google Semantic Search – what’s it all about?”, with David Amerland (via William Rock)

LunchBunch doggy bag

Doggy Bag: (Really helpful Tips & Links)

26:33 Scott

Google Plus Symbols – Extreme Symbol Gallery

Bonus: NetLingo List of Chat Acronyms & Text Shorthand

27:52 Randy

Tip: If your cold, your pets are too. Bring them inside and do what you can to help strays.

28:30 Jess

New  What is communications today? How do we really use words and conversations?

28:58 Ray

Hemingway app. Helps to make your writing bold and clear.


The Lunch Bunch are:

Scott Scowcroft  – The Scott Treatment Repurposing Hangout On Air Videos.

Randy Bowden  – Bowden2Bowden marketing and branding virtual consultancy firm

Jessica DewellInfusion Principle – Business Consulting Advisory Board.

Vivekananda Baindoor Rao  – Wake Technology Integrators – Software Engineering and Development company.


Do you need help with your Hangouts On Air or with Google Plus? Contact me here and let’s talk.

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About Ray Hiltz

Thanks for dropping by. I'm the Director of Digital Marketing for My background in business includes non-profit (performing arts), restaurants and Promotions. Having moved on from my own strategic consulting company, I now write about what interests me. So in this blog, you may read about my thoughts on marketing, health issues and business culture. You can follow me on Twitter @rayhiltz or @image24Call

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