One woman’s tale….the loss of the full stop – anger, judgment, and resolution (almost)
Feeling outraged at a change in the world? Your business, home, or a differing view? Do you want to find some resolution or peace around it? Perhaps there is a pattern or anger that isn’t helpful to you.
If so, read on..
Before we begin, yes the title and the article, is a little tongue in cheek.
I am using the story below as (hopefully) a relatively neutral example to cover what can be a serious topic.
Not least, relationships can end or be damaged (business and personal) when we have a particularly strong anger, potentially fuelled with a ‘need to be right’ on something, and respond accordingly. It does not necessarily need to be raising our voice, using accusatory language, or being dismissive, to have an ongoing or immediate negative impact.
It can also be unhelpful even further, sometimes causing us to ‘cut off our nose to spite our face’.
How do we do something different? Here is one way.
Let us begin..
The loss of the full stop and righteous indignation.
Did you know that a full stop (period) can make your message come across as insincere on text/chats? It can also suggest that you are annoyed and come across as passive aggressive.
I first read about this a while ago (there was a study conducted in 2015).
If you are struggling to abandon your full-stops, even outraged at the concept, you are not alone…
Having read about it a few times, I dismissed it at first. Then as it sunk in, I noticed I felt pretty mad about it. Likewise, my anger (for want of a better phrase) was definitely out of proportion to the situation. The inclusion or exclusion of a full stop. Hardly the most significant of situations in the world.
Yet, there I was clinging on to my righteous indignation, that people were abandoning their full stops. Writing their own new rules after a lifetime of something else. Rules which I might now need, not only to accept as being the way things were, but, as if that wasn’t annoying enough. Something that, gasp, I might be expected to do myself. Not least since as a trainer and leader, strong communication skills are important to me.
I was cross.
Abandoning punctuation, the outrageous laziness of it! After all, how hard can it be to remember to add a full stop at the end of a sentence for goodness sake? As for being aggressive, what nonsense. Since when did the correct use of punctuation become an aggressive behaviour?
I was cross.
I demanded (internally) for this nonsense to end. Okay, I may have shared my view out loud with one or two people as well.
I demanded not only the right to use my full stops, but also for people to know me well enough to know I was being sincere, full stop or not. It should be that way. It always had been. The end.
I first time I tried it, missing off that full stop. It felt exposed, unfinished.
I didn’t like it.
But it seemed it (the change to communication styles) wasn’t going away..
The loss of the full stop, tempers, and what to do.
Here was a situation I did not want to accept.
If I talked about it, I could feel myself getting worked up, and that seriously irritated ‘tone’ creeping in. When certain messages came in without a full stop, I could feel myself judging those that wrote them.
But where was this high level of outrage coming from?
I tend to be curious when I react strongly to something, particularly when over-responding to a situation. I don’t enjoy being cross and responding crossly rarely leads to positive outcomes.
Self awareness, and understanding our deeper triggers, allows us to release such unhelpful triggers, and change our behavioural responses.
Where to start?
If we are becoming curious, where we do we start?
A great question to begin with, is, where is the judgment?
We all judge. The work we do, is to reduce our tendency to judge over time, move them up as they crop up, and use any remaining judgments that we do have, to good use (a post for another day).
Anger and judgment
The more angry we are, the more likely it is that we have deemed that this change has been (unnecessarily) imposed on us and that it conflicts with either our values, or that it triggers something we like less about what we are or what we fear why we might become (our triggers – again a post for another day).
Where was the judgment here?
In this case, the first judgment I noticed, was around laziness. A laziness to add a full stop. How hard could it be for goodness sake? And for this, everything had to change? What about the values around spelling and grammar? (Notice also the absolute language I was using – ‘everything’).
In digging deeper, I also noticed the judgment of myself. That I would be perceived as lazy, unprofessional, ignorant. That yet again (in my view) I would have to change to accommodate others.
Impressive. All from the loss of a full stop! This is what happens if something creates a stronger response than initially makes sense (if we are true and honest with ourselves about it, rather than projecting blame and anger externally).
Understanding the root cause – how to decide next steps.
Now that we have noticed our triggers, what do we do next?
We can look into our judgments, to see how ‘real’, evidenced, some of it is, and find out more about the situation at hand. This way we can make a more informed (rather than emotional) decision. Here the steps included:
- Doing some further research as to how prevalent the loss of the full stop was, the reasoning behind it, why it might be happening, the pro’s and con’s of it.
- Continue to explore the need to be ‘right’ on this subject, the judgments, and do the work already mentioned.
- Noticing how others communicate with me. How do I unwittingly react to full stops in chat communications? What does it look/feel like when people miss out full stops, knowing what I now know having done further research. How does it feel when I try to do the same, in certain types of communication?
I can then make an informed choice to:
- Accept it. Change my communication style, as appropriate for the audience. Release my judgment of others and myself around ‘abandoning’ the full stop.
- Change it. Try to change it. Start a campaign to bring back the full stop! If it remains important to me.
- Reject it. Having been unable to accept it, or change it, refuse to use this new communication style. Perhaps even refuse to interact with others who use this new communication style. This can still carry anger or passion or determination, or it can feel like a relatively neutral step or decision to make, having reflected on the various stages.
[If you are curious about some of the ‘full stop’ research carried out, it turns out I was in the minority using full stops in whatsapp messages, across a range of ages, backgrounds, and professions. It surprised me too. The fact that I had not even noticed how many messages I had received without full stops, suggested it could not be as important for me as I thought it was. Even scrolling through my WhatsApp messages at the time of writing this. Of the 12 different people I have had chat messages with, over the last seven days, only 3 use full stops (and two of those are fellow legal professionals – my previous career). I hadn’t even noticed their absence!
Wrapping it up
As I began.
Relationships can end or be damaged (business and personal) when we have a particularly strong anger, potentially fuelled with a ‘need to be right’ on something, and respond accordingly. It does not necessarily need to be raising our voice, using accusatory language, or being dismissive, to have an ongoing or immediate negative impact.
Awareness is key in changing our judgments, triggers, and how we react.
Knowing what you now know, what will you now choose to do differently?
And remember, be kind to yourself, you are human after all.