What are the most obnoxious things co-workers do when they email? Are you the one they talk about in the break room? Here are some pet peeves and what you can do to avoid annoying the world:
1. Thoughtless responses
If, for instance, a co-worker asks if April 1 at 1p is a convenient time to meet, please (please, please) don’t email back: No. Offer an alternative time. Be kind to them. Save yourself the back-forth that wastes time and elevates blood pressure!
If you don’t understand what they want (even if it’s because they wrote a poor email), please don’t punish them and yourself, by responding: don’t know what you want. Instead, choose an option likely to improve your relationship and your reputation. Help them. Write back something like: “Sophie, Can you clarify what you mean by “……”? Thanks!” Alternately, just pick up the phone to find out.
2. Hitting reply to all
You receive an email and you’re on a list with a million (or five) others. Don’t hit reply to all. Consider if everyone really needs to know what you think. If you’re adding substantial information – really important stuff that will save the earth or their day – go for it. Otherwise, please, be kind. Pick and choose who you’ll reply to. Yes, it takes you a second more. So what?
3. Being too brief
Brief is great goal. Just be sure you’re conveying both the intent and the content your reader needs to give you good result. When brief writing borders on blunt, be smart. Add more information to help your reader want to read and respond to you.
A way too casual message like “Here you go” when attached to a proposal is blunt (and poor selling).
A short response like “Do it” from a department manager to a staff member who wrote a very long, very detailed email asking for assistance with a business issue she was struggling with, isn’t just blunt, it’s unkind.
A brief response like “Whichever” to a co-worker’s recommendation and request for your opinion isn’t going to win friends and influence people.
You get it. In each case, productivity is harmed (particularly ironic because some people claim to keep email short to boost it). When writing in a blunt fashion, your reader wastes time trying to figure out what was intended and loses more time following-up for clarification. And if poor productivity isn’t bad enough, when email writers don’t care enough to send their very best, profits and morale also plummet.
Bottom line. Save time, increase productivity and be perceived as the professional you are by writing to show respect for your reader.