August 5, 2011
The biggest email mistakes workers make
A fun Forbes article on 10 of the most common email gaffes in the workplace has been making the internet rounds.
[Flickr photo by paul_irish]
Three email abusers mentioned in the article rank high on my own email peeve list. They are:
The Tattletale. In the midst of a heated digital debate with a coworker, you cc a manager so they, too, can see what a jerk your colleague is. Yes, it's a classic hide-covering move. But it's also the height of passive aggression. Better to try resolving the conflict with your coworker on your own and save calling in the big guns until questions arise that no one else can answer.
Chicken Little. For these workers, the sky is always falling. Every other email leaving their inbox has a subject line in all caps blaring "URGENT!" or "FIRE DRILL!" no matter how insignificant the topic, even if they've only misplaced their stapler. As a bonus, these people are also quite fond of high-priority email flags.
The Closer. It's not enough for this person to send an email and wait for you to respond at your earliest convenience. Within 10 seconds of their message hitting your inbox, they'll call or IM to make sure you've read their email, no matter how low-priority their question.
To Forbes' list of email offenders, I'll add four of my own top peeves:
The Spamophobe. Every so often I'll email a freelancer or independent contractor for the first time only to instantly receive an auto-generated message asking me to fill out a form to prove that I'm not a spambot. I get that people want to cut down on spam. But if a person I'm trying to do business with requires me to jump through extra hoops to reach them, I'm likely to take my business elsewhere.
The Txtr. I don't care if you're stuck in an airport and the only keyboard you have handy is the one on your smartphone. Sending new prospects a business pitch written entirely in text message speak is a recipe for deletion. Trust me, ending a message with "lmk what u think, k?" isn't going to win you any new business.
The Endless Vacationer. You know how you got back from vacation last week? It doesn't look good that you have yet to turn off the automatic out-of-office response that says you'd be returning from Fiji four business days ago. Makes me think your mind is still somewhere in the Pacific.
The Technicolor Artist. It may have been cute to write emails in flowery white fonts against deep purple backgrounds in the nineties. After all, email was still a relatively new mode of business communication then. But in the twenty-first century, no one's buying what you're selling. Chances are they can't even read your offer.
How about you? What email gaffes drive you crazy at work?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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