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Not disputing anything you said, but trying to add another thought ...
I want to distinguish between the case where I'm ticked off and want to try to sound neutral (generally I fail), such as the situation you describe, and the case where I'm just trying to be helpful, honest, and sincere, with not a shred of irony intended, but some readers project a sarcastic or rude "tone" on the words I've written.
In the first case, I doubt that I'll ever be able to eradicate all traces of emotion. But in the second case, what I'm trying to learn is what the cues are that are interpreted as arrogance or sarcasm or name your negative connotation and how to avoid them.
I know that when I'm face-to-face with someone, and I suggest that my experience may be instructive in their situation, the other person is generally receptive. They can see that I'm much older; they can hear the kindness in my voice (on those rare occasions). But when strangers read the same words in the absence of direct contact, they make presumptions (as we all do). Who is this guy? My peers don't talk to me that way! (Yeah, well, I'm not your peer, kid; I've got thirty more years of experience than your peers have.) And so misunderstandings arise.
Anyway, what I am trying to do is learn to be a more effective writer in those situations. That's all.
CHRISTINE ANAMEIER wrote:
>I thought I was sounding neutral and civil, I was actually whacking the
>guy over the head repeatedly and casting aspersions on his competence.
>The surface meaning was "please reconsider," but the undercurrents said
>"you idiot!" There wasn't one single phrase you could point to and say
>"there it is, there's the hostility." It was the combined effect of a
>dozen barely perceptible jabs.
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