NOTE: Due to health issues, I am only writing a monthly blog post right now. If you would like more information, tips and free gifts, please subscribe to our twice monthly newsletter. *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~* There is one day each year that actually inspires poor and just plain bad communication. The practice of playing April Fool's jokes has given way to four flavors of communication problems. I'll share each one along with my suggestions to avoid each of the communication pitfalls they create and then I'll share my thoughts on how April may not be the only time we make April Fools of ourselves or others with our communication. 1. Joke Mania Trying to communicate anything to anyone at this time of year can be quite trying. Some people wait all year for this day so they can play silly jokes on their friends. Others just love to retweet or share them on social media. And, because people know it's April Fool's Day, they read silly jokes into almost everything that's posted. Tips: * Avoid exposing yourself to too many of these jokes as the temptation to get caught up in the April Foolery is too great. * If you can avoid it, don't post serious things on April Fools' Day--unless it's about April Fool's Day, of course. :D Serious things have a tendency to be either overlooked or taken as a joke on All Fool's Day. * Be very careful not to fall into the trap of perpetuating April Fool's jokes as your social media friends may tire of them and begin to tune you out. 2. All Jokes; All the Time The expectation of the over abundance of practical jokes leads many to assume things are a joke, even when they aren't intended that way creating a host of misunderstandings. Tips: * When sharing something that could even possibly be interpreted as a joke, tell them up front that it is a true story: (Not an April Fool Joke). * When reading or listening to friend's stories, read between the lines and look at body language to discern if the story is a joke or is, in fact, real. Assuming it's a joke can cause hurt feelings if someone is pouring his heart out in pain. 3. Careless Jokes Accidentally Cause Real Pain Perpetuating April Fool's jokes may feel harmless, but weigh the potential that the other person may misunderstand and get upset. Tips: * Be conscious of the things you post, even the few days prior to and after April 1st. Make sure it cannot be misinterpreted or that someone might not take it too far. 4. Hurtful Jokes are Justified or Even Glorified Some people make a concerted effort to *get someone good* which often ends up scaring the pants off them, leaving them wary of their plotting *friend.* MANY years ago, my husband's friend sent him an email at work which automatically opened a series of screens he couldn't shut down. These screens made it LOOK like he was surfing porn sites. At the time, my husband was a temp at that company on probation for a permanent position there. This could have gotten him fired. Even if the company knew it was sent as a joke and was viewed on his lunch hour and not on company time, his bosses might have a perception that he wasn't a serious candidate for permanent employment. The next step in April Foolery, is one upsmanship. The next year my husband vowed to get him back and emailed his April Foolish buddy that we were getting a divorce. Believing it was true, his friend told his wife while he was still on the phone and they both anguished over the demise of our marriage. My, then, young husband did feel the need to confess while still on the phone so as to minimize the ill effects to his friend and his wife and, thankfully, the April Fool jokes ended there. Tips: * I just have one here: Just don't do it! However, April Fool's Day isn't the only time we can make fools of ourselves or others with our communication. Here are a few ways in which I've seen this happen: 1. Assumed Aggression This is especially easy over social media where the intent can be misunderstood due to a lack of body language, facial expressions, vocal clues and a lack of continuity of thought as only parts of the conversation/thoughts are seen and others (previous posts) missed. Not knowing the full context of the conversation often leads people to assume the worst or read aggression into a remark. Sometimes aggression is assumed due to a similar previous encounter with another or because the subject matter hits a nerve. Tips: * Always give the writer the benefit of the doubt * When in doubt, ask what the person meant by that * Never reply, "SHEESH!" 2. Confused Wording or Punctuation The more confusing the communication and inaccurate the punctuation and grammar, the more we make fools of ourselves and other people. Tips: * Be very careful to choose your words carefully * Look at your comment twice to make sure it can't be easily misinterpreted before you hit send or post Anyone can overlook foolish communication once in a while, but be careful not to become known for your confusing comments, punctuation, aggressive tone or other foolish communication or people may tune you out all together. Tip: Almost nobody will tell you gently that you've been confusing or unnecessarily aggressive. Most will just go away mad or frustrated. Don't be an April Fool; take the time to communicate clearly. Art of Eloquence can help! Make sure you're subscribed to our twice monthly newsletter for our exclusive tips, gifts and special offers and check us out on Facebook for some fun with words and language. If you've read all the way through, I'd like to thank you! I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please leave a comment and share the blog post link with those you know. I will put the names of all those who commented and shared this link into a drawing for a free gift or a gift certificate. Your choice. You have until the end of the month to do so before I draw a name. Please make sure to have your email address on your comment so I can contact you if you are our winner. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ If you liked this post, read…Seven Reasons Why YOU Should Sign Up for the Art of Eloquence Newsletter! This month I’ll be sharing two articles on some other foolish communication trends and how YOU can avoid them!