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Stop stealing my time with your poor email etiquette


If you’re anything like me,
you’re absolutely tired of spending too much of your day sifting through pointless emails. Email is not an effective chat program, bulletin board, water cooler, and the reply-all is just plain abused. And don’t get me started on the URGENT flag that you attach to every single email you send. In the hopes that at least one person will share this with a friend, and save themselves an extra 5 minutes a day, I share with you my list of “How not to email”.

How not to email:

1. Announcements with everyone in the TO: field
Avoid the company wide email blast where you jam everyone in the TO: field.  This leads to the reply-all bad behavior, and often makes someone look like an ass.  Please send the email to yourself, and BCC: the rest of the company.

2. FYI people included in the TO: field|
The next mistake is when you want to email someone directly, but also make someone else aware of your email.  Please use the CC: Field for those people.  CC means carbon copy.  If your email is meant directly for one person, reconsider who else you’re adding to the TO: field and if anything, move them down to the CC.

3. Always BCC’ing to CYA
You probably need to rethink things if every time you send an email, you’re Blind Carbon Copying your boss or their boss.  Also, this leads to the “I didn’t realize I was blind copied-reply”.  Also, your boss has probably started to ignore your emails by now because of this.

4. Marking every email as urgent
Come on already!  You’re crying wolf if more than 20% of your emails are marked urgent.  If I consistently see that little red exclamation point from you, it makes me want to delete your email before reading it.

5. The Blog post email
I know that you have a lot to say, but you should be conscious of everyone’s attention span and time.  If I’m trying to quickly get through my unread emails, there’s a chance that the length of your email alone will mean I’ll try to read it later, and it will get lost somewhere far far down in my INBOX.

6. The Reply-all should be used with caution
Do you really need to litter everyone’s email INBOX with a “Thanks Julie!” message?  If you want to thank her, then thank her personally – not shouting it out to the rest of us.

 7. Replying to an email where you were CC’d
Enough already from the peanut gallery.  I really don’t need to see a thread of 8 emails that have no substance other than small talk. If you were properly CC’d on the email, is someone looking for your response or opinion?

8. Replying to an email where you were BCC’d
Hold on their buckaroo!  When you reply to an email you were Blind Carbon Copied on, that means the original sender didn’t want everyone else to know they were telling you too.  You could be destroying some serious trust.

9.  The overly complicated answer
 Can’t you just answer my question in less words?  I don’t need a 10 minute monologue when a one sentence answer could have gotten the job done.

I stopped here because I could feel my blood pressure starting to rise.  I’m sure you guys can add to this list of What Not To Do.

Great email read: http://blog.showboatmedia.com.au/2011/12/email-why-you-need-to-stop-using-it/

  • http://notes.tomhenrich.com Tom Henrich

    “Replying to an email where you were CC’d”
    This one I have to disagree with. Maybe it’s different in other offices, but in my company the CC field really just means “I’m not *necessarily* looking for a direct response from these people, but it’s likely they’ll need to know about this and/or have feedback.”It’s not intended as a “you’re only getting this so you can see it, now shut up” field.

    • Anonymous

      Great point, Tom.  Maybe what I should have said was “If you were properly CC’d on the email, someone may be looking for your response or opinion – not comments on how the Packers had an awesome victory yesterday”

  • Michele Repischak

    I feel as though you are speaking right to me and my HR Announcements in #1.  Lesson learned.

    • Anonymous

      Oh Michele, I’m not speaking to anyone directly.  We all have to be reminded about etiquette at times, and I thought this was more fun to do a “How Not To”.  Btw – I love your HR Announcements :)

  • http://www.mesmo.co.uk monica seeley

    Great post on how to annoy with poor email etiquette.  I would add, stop all the trivia like ‘thanks’, has anyone seen my Milwaukee coffe mug.   Keep it short and concise, no more than half a screen and maximum five questions/points.   Greet me and sign off professionally. 

    I have an email charter ‘The Nine Ps of Email Best Practice’ which many have found useful.  Feel free to download it from http://www.mesmo.co.uk/knowledge.aspx. 

    There is also a ‘Quality of Email’ checklist on the same webpage – http://www.mesmo.co.uk/knowledge.aspx

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  • jimmie42456

    Email is the most important media for communicate. so we need to know the proper use of this.If we can do this we never send etiquette email of others. It can change our thinking of contact with this.