The internet age has spawned huge numbers of incidents where people have sent emails that have inadvertently offended the recipient because the sender was not sensitive enough to the absence in written messages of the important cues that accompany the spoken word, where facial expressions and tone of voice and inflexions can provide helpful clues to the speaker’s benign intent.
Emoticons are one option as a partial substitute but some people (and I am one of them) find it uncomfortable to use them. Besides, it requires the sender to already be aware that the words might be misconstrued. But how does one guard against unwittingly sending off an email that might trigger irritation or anger even though one had no intention whatsoever of doing so?
What technology taketh away, it also giveth and it turns out that there is now software called Tone Check that can be embedded in your mail client that monitors your email as you are typing it and rates it for tone, thus warning you in real time if you are in danger of heading into the red zone.
The creator of the software was interviewed on the radio show On the Media explaining how it works.
The comic strip xkcd previously had another suggestion for dealing with this same problem.