I hate processing email.
It's a pain. I'm hoping someone invents a better messaging service.
Until then, let me spill the beans. Here's the real reason I hate email.
Passive voice. It's the bane of my Gmail existence.
For some reason known only to monks and transcription services, people love writing in a more formal style. I blame English teachers. People write like this:
"I know you were interested in one time at being informed about the company being impacted by the recent convergence of mobile devices in how you've covered tech."
These emails make me want to puke on my keyboard. Now, imagine reading hundreds of emails like this every week. And thousands of emails each month. You'd hate email, too. I admit one of the reasons I may not like email anymore could be the fact that I have been processing these messages since the horse and buggy days. Maybe since the horse days.
There is a better way.
It's not that hard. Do you remember the old Christmas special about Santa Claus where they sang a song about putting one step in front of another? Keep that visual picture in mind.
Active voice means putting one strong verb after a strong noun. Then another. For those struggling with any written communication, the secret is to take passive voice out back. I'm serious. Look through every single email, every text, every Facebook post before you hit send and try to spot the nasty little critters. They usually end in "ed" or "ing" but I've seen people come up with amazing, comically inventive ways of using passive voice. This curse of communication sometimes buries itself deep into an email.
Here's why it slows things down. I'll just use the official definitions from a Google search.
"Kent hit the ball."
"Our troops defeated the enemy."
The first phrase is active voice. It's easy to understand. It's short. The second phrase uses passive voice. Every single high-school freshman in the known universe uses this voice to explain why Hester has so much trouble getting a date in The Scarlet Letter. It sounds a bit more profound, more ornate, more formal-you get an A when you use passive voice, right? If you are actually an English teacher, please send all emails here.
This is a serious problem.
Passive voice is ruining business communication. People are really confused. They spend too much time trying to figure out what you're saying. Solve this one problem using active voice in your written communication and people will understand you.
Here's your chance to experiment. Send me a message using active voice. I promise to respond. If you use passive voice? I promise to make fun of you.
As a bonus, here are some famous quotes mangled by passive voice:
1. "A dream is had by me." Martin Luther King Jr.
2. "Being back will be done by me." The Terminator
3. "Am I being talked to by you?" Taxi Driver
4. "We are made stronger by that which does not kill us." Friedrich Nietzsche
5. "Home is phoned by E.T." E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
6. "The whole world is left blind by an eye for an eye." Mahatma Gandhi
7. "Life is like a box of chocolates. What you're going to get is never known by you." Forrest Gump
8. "The smell of napalm in the morning is loved by me." Apocalypse Now
9. "The shots you don't take are missed 100 percent of the time by you." Wayne Gretzky
10. "The truth can't be handled by you." A Few Good Men
11. "I was had by you at 'Hello.'" Jerry Maguire
12. "My little friend was told 'Hello' by you." - Scarface
13. "The bold are favored by fortune." - Virgil
14. "If it can be dreamed by you, it can be done by you." - Walt Disney