The first time I sent an email was in 1995. I was a freshman in college at Shippensburg University and had to go to the campus computer lab and “telnet to the arc.” Remember those days? Anyway, the point is email has been around for nearly 20 years. Therefore you would think that 21st century professionals and job seekers would know how to send a proper email.
This recent Harvard Business Review Ideacast from February 28, 2013 also offers advice on business and email writing and is worth listening to.
8 TOP WAYS TO ANNOY YOUR EMAIL RECIPIENTS
Use all caps
Most of us probably know this, but RECEIVING AN EMAIL THAT IS WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS IS VERY ANNOYING. I was on the receiving end of an all caps email a few months ago and it literally hurt my eyes. So, I deleted it.
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If you don’t know a person, well personally, then do not start your email with “Hey, So-in-so.” This is particularly true if you are a job seeker sending an email to a recruiter or hiring manager. “Don’t ‘hey’ me,” as my mom used to say.
Neglect a greeting
The only thing worse than hey, in my opinion, is no greeting at all. If you are initiating a conversation via email with someone, don’t just plow right into it. Offer up a hello, good afternoon or at least kick it off with their name.
Exclaim too much
Don’t you just love when people use lots of exclamations! It makes reading emails so much more fun! Especially when you use more than one!!!! Everything is so exciting today! Ugh, stop it.
Leave the subject blank
The subject field is there for a reason. Don’t write weird Christian Greyish subjects or just include FW: or RE:, write meaningful subjects that provide context to the body of the email. Otherwise, who the heck is going to want to read your email when there are 300 more in their inbox?
Write with errors
Most people are not strong writers. Even some writers are not strong writers. Want to really annoy your readers? Use your, you’re, there, they’re and their incorrectly. And then everyone is an editor and will point out your poor grammar.
Send it with high importance
Everything’s a fire to put out in some workplaces or so some people make it seem. Stop sending every piddling email with high importance. You remember what happened to the boy who cried wolf, don’t you?
Converse via CC
Having a bona fide, back and forth conversation via email with 10 people in the carbon copy field is a great way to annoy the masses. Email is not instant message. Take it offline and have a one-on-one phone call or in-person meeting.
Now, I am by no means the perfect email author. Regrettably, I once sent a nasty-gram that over used the underlining feature and included some excessive bolding; it was not my finest moment. But since then, I feel like I have made marked improvements in my email communication. One popular pet peeve that I will not let go of, even if it makes you cringe, is the use of emoticons. I happen to like them. 🙂
On a personal note: I’d like to send a big “thank you” to my friends on Facebook for chiming in during my recent crowd-sourcing for email pet peeves. You continue to be a source of information and inspiration to me! ~ Shannon
What are your email horror stories?
What are some things you’ve opened in an email and thought…. you have got to be kidding me!?!