Workplace Etiquette: Emails

I’m hoping that if this post stops just one terrible email from going out, it could prevent just one stressed out employee from finally losing their marbles and stabbing their colleague through the neck with a Bic pen.

Copying half the company into your email
This should be avoided for many reasons. First of all, it could give the impression that you are incapable of discerning the appropriate audience for your communication. Or that you don’t value people’s time. Also, people could start ignoring your emails assuming that they’re irrelevant if you are a habitual over-CC-er. Yep, that’s a thing. Personally, the worst thing is when I’m suddenly copied into an email chain where I’ve had little or no prior involvement in the topic being discussed. Do you want me to action something? If I don’t respond am I taken to have been consulted? I’ll also sneak the good old ‘Reply-all’ into the category of ‘think before you hit that’, alongside people who go to night clubs regularly but don’t ever dance.

Signing off with kisses and/or hugs
I would argue that this is fine for your friends including colleagues that are your friends outside of work. But even then, only if the email is completely non-work related. In any other situation, it’s questionable. I think the threshold test should be; Is it work related? If no, proceed to whether you would actually kiss and/or hug that friend in real life.  If yes, x and o away (within reason, yep, I just had to make that qualification, don’t mind me).

201009021410Having a confusing or bizarre out-of-office message
If there are so many typos in your out-of-office message and the words are strung together in such an incoherent way that it screams DRUNK TEXT, that’s probably not what you want. And I don’t mean to sound like an unfeeling corporate robot set out to eliminate all signs of a personality, but your out-of-office shouldn’t be the sounding board for what you perceive to be a hilarious joke or one-liner. The most recent one that I was confronted with was ”Always be yourself, unless you can be Beyonce, then always be Beyonce.” Thanks for the tip I guess, somebody’s sure is in holiday mode.

Being the principal of a law firm and not warning your employee who is tasked with checking your emails, that one of the clients you are chummy with sends you stills of 60’s porn under the subject header ‘come to my tennis party’
I don’t think I need to elaborate on this one.

Blindly letting LinkedIn send a connection request to ALL of your contacts
This has happened to me inadvertently and it is a nightmare. There are likely to be many people that you don’t know very well at all, having dealt with them only briefly in passing. The reason it’s awful is that LinkedIn continues to send that person annoying reminders that they haven’t accepted your request, which makes you seem kinda needy. In this situation, I think you have to go to your ‘sent invitations’ section and delete every request individually to prevent any further reminders being sent (If you are wondering, the third reminder is along the lines of ‘Why don’t you love meeee?‘). Another consideration is that if the invitee goes to accept your request and finds you have revoked it, that could be an awkward situation too.

Using bad grammar all of the time
There’s a time and a place for it. I thought it was absolutely hilarious when the GM at a previous job responded to my very serious email to him, with ‘OMG!’. We all make mistakes, I’m probably making a thousand grammatical errors on this blog… but if you use ‘u’ instead of ‘you’ and ‘thanx’ instead of ‘thanks’ all the time, it comes across as a little lazy. Thanx is a saving of just one letter! One letter!

Not having an appropriate objective
There should be a clear objective to the email, whether it is to inform, to seek a response, to arrange a meeting. The clincher is that the person receiving your email should also get a sense of that objective. Sometimes the intentions or context that you have in your own mind don’t translate to what you’re typing. Other times, the intention of the email is not that well meaning. For example, resist the urge to shoot off a passive-aggressive reply to somebody else’s email, no matter how offensive they were. ‘Never argue with an idiot, they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.’ The same applies to an email fight, nobody is a winner.

Swearing, bitching, gossiping 
Putting aside the fact that it’s just plain unnecessary, if you’re engaging in this kind of behaviour from your work computer, it’s most likely those emails are backed up regardless of whether you delete them from your sent box. There have been legal cases where the discovery process has uncovered employees referring to their customers and/or business partners using derogatory terms. I know of a corporation where it is common practice to transfer an employees’ emails over to their manager for a period of time after they have left the company. If you wouldn’t be comfortable expressing an opinion loudly in the office, it’s probably not a good idea to put it in writing.

These are just my observations.  I hope they come across as generally common sense and I’m not being an email kill-joy.

That Career Girl


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