New message in mailbox. Macro screen viewIn today’s workplace, email has replaced the heretofore ubiquitous office memo as the primary form of inter- and intra-office communications. But so quickly do these modern message bearers collect in our inboxes that it is often the case that we hastily answer them in an attempt to juggle all of our other daily responsibilities. What is not often considered is how easy it is to transform a five-second email into a rude or annoying message that can affect your office relationships. If you find yourself a perpetuator of any of the following irritating email habits fear not, there are a handful of simple strategies to avoid them in your future exchanges.

I. Using your emails like text messages:

Whoever you are in the chain of command, it is important to remember that emails and texting are not the same thing. Using an email subject line to convey a message only conveys one thing loud and clear: the recipient isn’t worth your time. It’s annoying, potentially insulting and not worth the fifteen seconds you saved by doing it. Instead, keep your subject line to a couple of words and take a few extra seconds to type out a complete sentence or two.

II. Emphasizing important text by bolding, capitalizing, or otherwise accenting the words:

Though you may be doing it simply as a way to catch the eye of the reader, using all caps or highlighting demands or instructions carries an air of condescension. The extra attention given to specific text is abrasive and unnecessary. Instead, use bullet points or less offensive formatting such as italicizing to point out important details. Make your email subject line informative and keep your messages as concise as possible so the chance of reading over information is kept to a minimum.

III. Always using “reply all”:

As with the extra added emphasis on important text, replying to all recipients when emailing a coworker back with assistance or corrections can seem condescending, or even aggressive, especially if one of the recipients is a manager or executive. In effect, it’s like criticizing the person right in front of their boss. When you are replying to a sender with suggestions, helpful hints, or constructive criticism, start a different thread, or even make a call or desk visit, so that you avoid making him or her look incompetent or incapable.

IV. Ignoring polite salutations in the name of brevity:

When you are rushed, email etiquette can seem an unnecessary formality, especially if you already have an email signature. But leaving out your name at the end of an email is sloppy and rude. It’s like exiting a face-to-face conversation by walking away without a “see ya later.” You can simply add a “thanks” to your signature and have it auto-populated every time you send a message. This means virtually no additional work for you, and a more polite and professional appearance for your emails.

So, instead of eschewing politeness and risking offense while you are powering through your inbox, take a few additional seconds to make sure your emails are professional. Always keep in mind that emails are not like texting and can reflect negatively on you should you use them as such. With the above quick fixes, you can avoid some common workplace blunders and risking a mark on your reputation.


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