I’m not a CEO. I’m not a CFO. Heck, I’m not even a manager. But I can tell you this much, your business emails suck. Seriously. What are you – fifteen? I have a lot of personality and I know that but you wouldn’t know I’m a total oddball from the emails I send to extended colleagues and that’s the way it should be.
Need help understanding? Let me break it down for you with some helpful fun facts.
1. Your signature. Are you kidding me with the cutesy graphics? No one you work with needs to see a banner about the upcoming holiday, your favorite LOLcat, or a silly graphic. That hopping smiley face that’s waving? It’s not cute. It’s annoying and childish.
2. CAPS ARE NEVER ACCEPTABLE. NOT EVER. Did you feel that? Did you feel how FUCKING INTENSE CAPS FEELS?! That’s because it is. Chill out. Are you abbreviating something? Cool. Are you not abbreviating something? Then stop shouting at me. It’s uncalled for and quite frankly it’s unnecessary. You mean to tell me that the only way you know how to emphasize a point is by typing in really big letters? Did you not take an English class? Let’s talk about italics. Or – better yet – let’s talk about having a good enough grip on the English language that you know how to emphasize a thought or phrase using the proper words instead of typing features.
3. Ellipses… Are pointless… An ellipsis is “series of marks that usually indicate an intentional omission…can also be used to indicate an unfinished thought or, at the end of a sentence, a trailing off into silence.” SeewhatIdidthere? See how I incorporated one into the quote I used? If you’re quoting – then go right ahead – but you’re not quoting are you? You’re giving directions or answering a question or a plethora of other things that aren’t quoting something. Really, you’re implying something when you type … Typing an ellipsis makes you look frazzled and confused at best; rude and condescending at worst.
4. Full sentences rock. Really? Do I really need to explain this one?
5. One punctuation mark is all that’s necessary. Review #3 for the use of a period. Multiple commas never make sense. Multiple question marks make you look like an impatient ass. And never – under any circumstance – use an exclamation point. Why? See #2. Calm down.
6. The people reading the email are not your friends or your family. They do not need to know the details of your personal life. Didn’t respond to an email quickly? Apologize for the delay and respond. Unless the person on the other end of that email is a close confidant they don’t need to know that you were out because your grandmother died, your wife left you, your dog is in the hospital, you had the runs, whatever. Telling them this when they don’t need that information is just weird. And uncomfortable. You made someone asking you about a business deal squirm in their chair to figure out how to respond to your awkward email. Good job. Oh and if they are a close confidant that you do want to share some detail with? A phone call is much better. Much.
7. Did the business world not get the memo that email forwards are out? Just like DayGlo t-shirts and mullets (were mullets ever really “in”?) it’s time to let them go. Send them from your personal email to your mom and your uncle. Stop sending them to everyone on your business email contact list. You’re not going to win a million dollars, you’re not going to be cursed if you don’t resend it, and some little kid won’t die of a fatal disease just because you didn’t click the button to forward it to everyone you know. If you really love it, send it to yourself at home and use it later. Otherwise, read it and walk away.
The key here is that this isn’t your personal email. You aren’t writing an email to your mom or a personal blog post. When you’re writing emails to coworkers, bosses, businesses you work with, etc. you need to take a step back from yourself for a second and attempt to be someone like you – except way more professional. It doesn’t matter if the company you work for now isn’t the company you dream of working for. Email is fairly permanent and traceable which means if you use it poorly it could come back to haunt you. Trust me, you don’t want there to be physical proof that you’re unprofessional and you’re not going to get any leg up in the professional world until you start typing like you deserve one.