Saturday, December 22, 2012

Poor email etiquette

This is a topic that is pretty close to my heart. I sincerely believe that written communication says a lot about the professionalism and competency of an individual. So when I see shoddy, poorly drafted mails, my blood boils! After all, you either make or break with the impression you create with your communication!

Spellings -  Some people think words like informations and feedbacks actually exist. I request them to please run the spell checker. Similar to furnitures does not exist, informations too does not. Worse, a few talk about "2 informations"! God save them! 

Salutations - A "Good morning" is valid only in the mornings and the same applies to a "Good afternoon". If you are writing a mail that is addressed to people operating in a different timezone, please refrain from using salutations like this. 

Formatting - Beginning a sentence in lowercase, confusing , with . with ; and ending up with all sorts of possible wrong usage, frequently employing U, B or I, inter capitalization, half finished sentences, this list can go on...Avoid these mistakes and make others' lives bearable.

Commonly used phrases - "PFA" , "Please find the attachment", "OOO", "ASAP", "Hello together", "Hello both" and so many other equally funny, wrong, irrelevant phrases and abbreviations have seeped into the usage of some people. It would be better if one consciously weeds them out.

To and CC Fields - This is meant to be used very judiciously. If there are people who ought to take some action on the message one is sending, they ought to be in the 'To' field. Or this field should be used to include people with whom some information (that adds value) has to be shared. In Cc, one includes people who ought to be in the "know" but from whom no action is required. Without this basic knowledge, people misuse these fields and randomly include every tom, dick and harry in these fields. Before sending any mail, if only these men and women pause and recheck the recipients in these 2 fields!

Subject relevance- Some people have the habit of writing the email subject after drafting the mail. I don't advocate this because it is better to start composing a message after defining its boundary and scope. 

Writing for an audience - Before clicking 'send', many people hardly pause to check whether everyone marked in the to field would understand the message or not. Someone might need more details to grasp a message whereas somebody else might not. 

Paragraph size -  A mail in a professional context is not a poem and neither is it a fictional account of an interesting story.  So, if you are someone who is verbose, please break, structure and organize the information you intend to convey in logical parts.

Signatures - E mail signature is meant to convey one's role along with a standard sign off phrase. But I wonder why people again write their email address in their signatures. It is also not very prudent to have a 2 para signature that tells a recipient where they work, what the exact address is, what the mission statement and vision statement of their organization is! A few extremely polite people sign off with "Thanks and best regards". They would have drafted an escalation mail. Now, go figure out why they do it!

Out of Office messages - These messages sometimes start with "Thank you for your mail". I have never been able to figure out why someone should be thanked for sending me spam, junk, trash and rubbish! Or why should I thank someone without knowing any reason. If you are someone who starts your out of office message with a "Thank you for your mail", I beg you, please don't! One other point is about blindly copying the same out of office message for people within and outside one's organization. Another annoying observation is a set of options that people tick off. It reads something like "I am out of office"
    1.  On vacation
    2. On business travel
    3. In a workshop
    4. Blah
    5. Blah
Now who needs all these options? Why should someone be stressed to the point of being  forced to read through a long rubbish list like this?

Managing by email - Email is the most potent weapon in the hands of someone who does not know how to manage his team. He instructs all his team members to make sure that he is copied in all the mails they send so that he knows what is happening, who is doing what, who is working, who is not working, who is procrastinating, who is escalating and who is following up! Well, these managers are insecure individuals who don't know the meaning of the words accountability and trust. 

I am sure many of you would be able to add to this list. Please feel free to do so in the comments section.


Surabhi said...

Totally agree!!
The regularity spelling mistakes or short forms in emails incrementally reduces respect for the sender.
A few more irritating ones...
"please revert/awaiting revert" - the most commonly used wrong phrase at all levels. Senior most people, of course, do not have to mention it as action/response is expected because they have posted a view.

The Apostrophe Apocalypse
It is used sparingly anywhere & everywhere that one completely gives up on humanity as a race to progress in future. I am sure you know what I mean because even examples are a painful eyesore even to record in a journal!

I have a different view on the "Thanks of your email." in out of office mailers. For those who do not get any junk mails & most mails are of relevance to work/business, it signifies a nicety. Thanks to the latest Outlook version, if any of your recipients have set an Out of Office, it appears above the To: space even before one shoots the mail.

Aishwarya V said...

Excellent! For the first time I laughed while reading your blog:)

My experience with emails:
1. If you ask a bunch of questions in bullets you get the reply in a long paragraph. You have to search for the reply to each question within that essay
2. Whenever I get a mail with 2-3 people in the To list I simply keep quiet. I assume the remaining 2 will take the necessary action :)

Shiva said...

@Surabhi, Love the way you have come up with 'Apostrophe Apocalypse' :) "Await" is misused, yes.

On thanking in out of office replies, I guess there are other ways to be nice...

@Aishwarya, Thank you thank you :)

Agree that we rarely get replies to the point...

Prathiba said...

Siva, that was hilarious! I couldn't stop laughing.

While it was funny to read about the goof-ups here,this is the only time it has ever been funny. I do wish people would take better care of the stuff they tap out into their email program.

Shiva said...


:) I also sincerely hope that the tribe that cares increases in number!

selvazx said...

Nice post.
Not many use the Bcc (Blind carbon copy) field also. The "To" & "Cc" recipients will not know that a copy has been sent to the "Bcc" recipient[s], that may be useful on many occasions.

selvazx said...
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