Lost in Email Translation

In the professional world, emails have become a way of life. However, this does not excuse one from using email as a sole communicator. There are ‘unofficial’ email etiquette rules. There are definitive times where email is simply unprofessional and unacceptable. There are times where it is completely acceptable and simply easier to communicate through a quick electronic message than it is to phone wait on hold for ages, just to communicate a quick message.

Don’t be these people.

The over communicative emailer:

The one person in the department who carbon copies everyone on every single email message they send out. Not only is it overly communicative, it is annoying and unnecessary. Your co-workers may hold you in open or passive aggressive contempt. We get it, you want everyone on the same page. But there’s a difference in same page, and overly communicative. This will lead to ‘a boy who cried wolf’ mentality, your co-workers will slowly (or quickly, depending on their patience level) responding to or even reading your emails because they’re usually garbage or unrequired information.

The under communicative emailer:

The one who uses ambiguous, misleading subject, or no subject line at all. The one who sends an empty email body with only a subject line is no better. Not only does it take more time to decipher the meaning, but it can prevent the recipient from even glancing at the email. This also applies to the ‘question/answer’ emailer. When a coworker asks you a question and you don’t readily know the answer. Don’t respond with ‘I don’t know, let me get back to you.’ This is completely superficial information. If you don’t have something to say, it is really alright to say nothing at all, or to wait until you do have something valuable to add to the conversation. UNLESS it is a time sensitive response and you are relaying when you will have an answer.

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The unprofessional emailer:

You know the one. This emailer doesn’t have a signature to let recipients know how to contact them otherwise. This emailer commonly uses shorthand and bad grammar to communicate. There is a time and a place for shorthand, it is not in a company email.  This also applies to the 2am responder. No one minds a work email in the early evening, most of us work off the clock and after office hours, it is just the nature of the beast. We all understand burning that midnight oil, but, just because you are, doesn’t mean the recipient is. So, for the love of all that is holy (and by that I mean vacation days, the weekend and payday) don’t repeatedly send 2 am/weekend emails, unless it is absolutely necessary. We spend enough time at work.

The ‘I emailed them’ emailer:

I am going to write this with imagined deep eye contact. AN. EMAIL. IS. NOT. AN. END. ALL. It is under no circumstances acceptable to tell your boss/superior that you have emailed a client/vendor/etc. and are awaiting a response. If it is time sensitive or important, PICK UP THE PHONE. Emails are not the sole solution to workplace communication. Sure it gives you a paper trail and causes you to not have to small talk or overly verbally communicate to someone you don’t like. But, just as you ignored the 92nd email Janice sent about her cat’s birthday party, a client/vendor may do the same to you about an appointment/installation/pick up/etc. Emails are not an excuse to be lazy. Stop it.

Instead, be this person.

The perfect emailer:

The one who is detailed, direct and professional. This emailer uses proper salutations, titles, correct grammar, punctuation and appropriate (work related) humor. They rarely send emails after 10pm, they don’t overuse the urgent flag, and sparingly send cat memes.  They only use their professional email and never include you in an endless carbon copy email chain, unless necessary.  They know when to pick up the phone and when to send an email.

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