Email Pet Peeves

By Francesca DeLuca

I was born about two decades before email became universally accepted in the early 1990s. Pre-email, work conversations were face-to-face (scheduled or unscheduled meetings) or on the telephone (more than a two-minute conversation). Documentation was sent through regular mail, Federal Express or UPS. And if you did use Federal Express or UPS, chances were there was no pickup from your work location, so you were inconvenienced by getting in your car to go to your local print shop to send those documents.

Now, we all simply open our email account, and send and read emails throughout the day, and the afternoon, and the evening. We live in an “immediate” world, where information is at our fingertips when we want it. We do not need to wait for the mailman to deliver written correspondence from your Aunt Sally in Florida. Aunt Sally, presuming she has email, can correspond with you as often as she wishes, and through a variety of communications (including Facetime or Skype).

Since email continues to be such a large part of our lives, and takes up so much of our day, I wanted to share some pet peeves.

“Did you read my email?” Nothing makes me nuttier than a co-worker who shows up at my desk and demands, “Did you read my email?” I happen to have email open all day, and I’m reading and responding to email regularly. Many say that I am so quick to respond.

When asked this question, I try not to grit my teeth, pause to a count of 2, smile, and say, “Why, no, I have not. When did you send it?” To which the co-worker usually responds, “Five minutes ago!”

Does not proofread (or re-read) email before hitting send. We all have received email with misspellings and run on sentences.

Many years ago, a co-worker wrote a detailed email about a sales product and its upcoming release. Where he intended to state “ducks-in-a-row” in his last paragraph, he instead wrote “d*cks-in-a-row.” Whoops! Spell check might have caught the faux pas. Or even a quick re-read before hitting send. One of his co-workers read his full email and caught the mistake, laughing it off. It could have cost him his job if his boss had realized what was written.

Lengthy emails. Let’s face it, we all have a short attention span. When you receive long emails, the likelihood is that you will speed-read it, if the author is lucky, or only read the first paragraph or two, and move on to your next task. Perhaps a conversation would be better than a 3-page email. Or a short email with an attachment.

ALL CAPS directives. We’ve all had that one person (co-worker or not) who feels that their communication is more important than anyone else’s. They write in ALL CAPS. Perhaps they do not realize that writing in all caps is the same as shouting. I’m betting that most of them do know this. And they do not care.

Sending email beyond the intended audience. The email may be intended for three co-workers, and the email author decides to carbon copy the boss, and the boss’ boss, as if show their bosses how important their message really is. Oftentimes, however, the original email causes friction with the co-workers. Is the boss on this email because there is a perceived issue? Should they also be including the boss(es) on their response?

Lack of response. How many times have you put in an email request to which you may never receive a reply? My planner is filled with notations to follow up 2-4 days after an initial email request. Why? Most of us receive too much email. It is easy to “lose” email correspondence. Some folks just plain ignore email, perhaps with the belief that it will just “poof” and go away.

“Thank you!” Oh, brother. We’ve all received “Thank you!” or “Thanks” email responses from co-workers.
Come on, I know you have. It becomes an endless loop of emails. You send information to your co-worker, and because they are thrilled or excited or happy (pick your emotion), they hit respond with that “Thanks!” response. While the response is not “wrong,” it becomes another short email in our already lengthy email queue. It is almost the equivalent of having sent a present to your uncle, who then sends you a letter or an email thanking you for your thoughtful gift. Do you then send an email or letter back thanking him for thanking you?

Expectation to respond on the weekend or late evening. When did it become okay for co-workers or bosses to expect that you work outside your working hours?
I’m being serious. I have had bosses who generally correspond first thing in the morning, or late at night, and their expectation may be that you respond immediately. Wait, what? And what about clients who expect 24-hour service (when your business is not a 24-hour business)? A healthy dose of civility and respect is required here. If your hours are, let’s say, 9 am to 5 pm, an email received at 7:30 pm, should wait until the next morning. Likewise, if a client is emailing on Sunday afternoon at 4, and your business is open Monday to Friday, the client should expect a response on Monday, not Sunday at 4:05 pm.

Some additional pet peeves: Folks who use overuse exclamation points, as if I didn’t “get” the emphasis the first time. The overuse of emojis. Highlighting of every other word. Broken hyperlinks. Responding to an email with a question that was answered in the original email. Lack of an email signature. Or if there is an email signature with a street address, no phone number is included. Chain-letter emails.

I could continue….and I suspect that our readers have many of their own pet peeves…..


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