Wednesday, January 21, 2015

8 Annoying Email Habits At Work

Trawling through heaps of emails each day is a pain. Worse still, the office is replete with people having insufferable idiosyncrasies that make you want to rip your computer off the sockets and smash it against the wall (or even better, against their faces). Don't be one of them. You're better than that. Avoid these habits at once, at all cost...

A typical day at work

Picture taken from Time

1. Poor Formatting: Keep emails short. If not, keep it interesting. Don't ramble on without structure and focus. It's not an essay-writing competition. Almost all email platforms support the usual Microsoft Word tools - underline, bold, italics, bullet points, and so on. Use them well. Make every word count.

2. Unintelligible Titles: A dire omen that machines are taking over the world. No human would ever compose nonsensical titles like "FW: RE:  KB15N Adjustment For Jan'14 - MY05002681 HLL TCC EmergencyExp [600-01-31996840]". Humans remember and search things by subject description, not reference numbers. Perhaps the IT and Finance departments are actually staffed by bots. The way they talk in real life, I would not be surprised.

3. Endless Correspondence Chain: The good thing about emails is that you can keep a chain of previous emails. The bad thing is that no one bothers to cut out unnecessary links in the chain, ("Sorry, forgot to attach file. Resending now") and months-old outdated information. Endless chains build up needless clutter in paper and bytes, which devour precious storage space in cabinets and computers. Don't be lazy - scroll down before hitting "Reply", and delete the fluff and redundant.

4. Confidentiality Notice: You know, that disclaimer in tiny fonts right at the bottom of the email, reminding the reader that the email is confidential (aren't all emails are, by nature?) and, if the reader isn't the intended recipient, to delete, withhold disclosure and notify the sender that it has been wrongly delivered. How pointless. Anyone who isn't naturally inclined to do all that is likely not going to do it, out of laziness or malice, with or without the disclaimer.

5. "Don't Print, Save Paper" Notice: Another one of those tiny bottom disclaimers. Look, no one enjoys printing endless sheets of email for fun, okay? It's a long walk to the printer, and it's a nightmare of blackened hands when the paper gets stuck. In fact, adding that silly line only lengthens the email chain and use up more paper when it's required to be printed and filed, hence hurting the environment even more.

Knock it off, self-righteous bastards!

6. Bare Attachment: All the email says: "Please find attached herewith our self-explanatory letter dated xx.xx.xx for your attention and record". Seriously, that's all? So what if you're emailing on someone else's behalf (secretaries being the main culprits)? Can you not give a teaser of what the letter says? Or at the very least, copy and paste the letter's contents into the email body? Instead, thanks to these lazy buggers, we're made to spent an extra mouse click and wait in suspense while the attachment loads (especially on mobile).

7. Blind Forwarding: A and B privately discusses a matter in a long email exchange. B expresses concerns of C's abilities. Eventually, A and B decide to engage C for help. A requests help from C by - yes, you guessed it right - forwarding the entire email chain to C. Way to go, Asshole!

8. Constant Reminders: Title tag: [URGENT]. Priority: High. Look, chill the fuck out, will you? We got the message the first time, and we're working on it. It's not a ticking time bomb. Nobody's going to die just yet. (And even if we are defusing a time bomb and millions are going to die if we don't, having someone constantly yelling 'gentle' and 'kind' reminders over our shoulders isn't exactly helping.)

Those are just a few examples of bad email habits at work. Human naivety knows no bounds. As much as technology is designed to make our lives easier, trust humans to always find a way to annoy the hell out of each other.


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