• Greg Baker


 The topic doesn’t matter.  Even a simple comment regarding that latest (and cutest) cat video causes you to cringe.  This has got to be some extreme, literary superpower.  No human could possibly write so many offensive emails about such inane topics!

Of course, I’m not talking about any one person.  We are all guilty of sending that poorly written email.  It’s that email that sounds good when we send it, but doesn’t sound so great when your boss reads it back to you.  A poor word choice, an ambiguous phrasing, a failed attempt at humor – all of these items lead the reader to wonder, “What the heck were they thinking?”  And before you know it, a simple email thread turns hostile.

What makes an email sound rude?  While everyone has their own pet peeves, most emails considered snarky or abusive contain similar language.

  1.     ALL CAPS – This is perhaps the most widely known method to escalate a written message.  It’s very simple – “ALL CAPS” = “yelling”.  SO DON’T YELL!

  2. Unnecessary Punctuation – An exclamation point is used for emphasis.  However, multiple exclamation points do not add more emphasis.  They simply make you look like a troll.

  3. Multiple personality words – The meaning of many words depend on a context not present in an email.  For example, the word “fine” could mean two different things: 1) That sounds good, or 2) That’s a horrible idea, but I’ll go along since I think you’re a butthead, and I want to watch you suffer.  Likewise for “Thanks”

  4. But, actually… – Whether written or spoken, these two words tend to emphasize a single item:  I’m right, and you’re wrong.  If that’s the message you are trying to convey, then they might be the right choice.  Most of the time, you’ll want to try a different phrasing.

  5. Demands – Engineers are notorious for placing demands in email.  Their training requires specificity, and their dry, yet charming, personalities hinder their ability to catch the snarkiness.  Please don’t hold it against your engineering team.  They just want to be loved!  😉

This list is by no means comprehensive.  A quick search of the Internet reveals hundreds of different sites dedicated to improving your email etiquette.  Go ahead and burn an hour or two on self-improvement.  It will go a long way to warming up your online personality.

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