Many women love to use exclamation points, and it’s not because we’re all SPEAKING AT A LOUD VOLUME!!!
According to the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, women use the exclamation point way more frequently than men do, but we do it for good reasons — mainly to convey friendliness and emphasize statements of fact. Deborah Tannen, a professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, reiterated this idea when she told the Huffington Post:
"[Exclamations] no longer necessarily show emphasis, because for many women, they are the most common, or neutral, way of ending sentences. Leaving them out indicates negative intentions, while including them simply shows an expected level of enthusiasm."
In other words, leaving exclamation marks out makes us feel like ice-cold bitches, and don't even get us started on using a period instead.
In order to examine our own feminine proclivities for the exclamation mark, we decided to go three long days without them. We became a horde of ice-cold bitches.
No exclamation points for 72 hours. Period. Not in emails, texts, Gchat, or other forms of written communication.
We agreed that if our significant others, after reading a number of our ice-cold communiqués, asked us, "Are you mad at me?" we were allowed to tell them (and only them) about the challenge. We weren't looking to end anyone's relationship.
We also agreed to tally the number of exclamation points accidentally used in the three-day test period.
And...we all failed. Here are the exclamation point ban violators, in order of smallest failure to biggest.
Somewhat to our surprise, we found that it was overall easier to abstain from exclamation points in our personal lives than in our professional ones. It may be that, as women in the workplace, we feel increased pressure to appear friendly, accommodating, and grateful.
In our personal lives, we are more able to modify our language, perhaps because we trust the people who know us well to be able to read our mood and tone through other cues.
Do we plan to use exclamation points any less frequently going forward?