Dragging yourself into work on a Monday morning can be tough enough without having to bog through the dreaded email inbox. After wasting a good 15 to 20 minutes going through hundreds of emails, many of us realize only two or three are actually relevant to our work day. The others run the gamut of junk mail, forwards (people still send those?), chitchat from Bob in accounting, pictures of a baby you don’t know from Becky in sales, and company form letters that apply to some other department. You may be the victim of this email madness, but you also just might be the culprit! Here are some of the worst workplace email offenses to avoid so you don’t become an office email pest.
- Abusing the "Reply All" button. Nothing clogs up a work email inbox faster than a long chain of emails that begin when someone decides to reply to everyone in the company — for no good reason. An action such as this can prompt others to respond in kind using "reply all," causing a snowball effect. In no time, a conversation that is better suited for a group of five people, or even a single department, is filling up inboxes throughout the company and may even be slowing down servers. Think twice any time you’re considering hitting "reply all" and ask yourself if everyone — from upper management to the tech desk to the janitorial staff — really needs to hear what you have to say.
- Sending "funny" forwards and chain emails. The time for clever forwards and chain letters with cheesy glitter graphics of angels has long past even for your private email accounts, let alone your work email accounts. No one is going to die or have seven years of bad luck if you don’t forward that chain email. While many forwards were considered cute and charming back when email was first becoming prevalent, now they’re considered to be a nuisance to most people, particularly if you send them on a regular basis.
- Sending too many photos from your personal life. If you just became a parent, you may be so proud and overjoyed that you want to email a photo of your new baby to everyone in the company. This might be acceptable in small doses, but can get excessive if you start sending photos on a regular basis. Or let’s say you just bought a new car. Does everyone in your department really need to be emailed a photo of it? The same is true of photos of the fancy cake you baked or your beloved pets. Bring in printed photos instead, or photos on your smartphone, and show them to the co-workers closest to you, rather than sending them into the ether to people who may not know you or care about your personal life.
- Being the office beggar. It’s annoying to constantly receive emails from different people asking for money or donations for this or that cause. It’s true that many of us have children that are selling candy, cookies, or magazines to raise money for sports teams or trips. It’s also true that many of us have important causes that we fundraise for, but that doesn’t mean the rest of our co-workers want to be hassled about it in emails. Instead of sending out mass emails asking for money, talk with your networks outside of work or ask co-workers in person. Puppy-dog eyes work better in person anyway.
- Using text speech. Let’s face it. You’re not a teenager in high school, and you don’t need to talk like one in your workplace emails. Do you really have to abbreviate every phrase you use? Are all those exclamation marks and smileys really necessary? Often, text shorthand comes across as unprofessional to your colleagues and management team, so be sure to treat workplace email communication differently than personal email communication, even if you’re sending a work email from your phone.
- Not using the "BCC" button in mass emails. Some mass emails are unavoidable, such as when you need to send out an important email to all of your clients at once. If you don’t use the "BCC" button, though, you could be revealing personal email addresses to people who do not need to know them. If any of your contacts collect and use those email addresses inappropriately, you could cause a lot of headaches and may even land yourself in big trouble.
- Not replying to urgent emails. Many of our email inboxes have become so bloated that instead of managing them, we ignore them. Unfortunately, this means important emails get buried under a payload of junk. An entire team could be waiting on your response for hours and you could be blissfully ignorant until they violently barge into your office and ask why you couldn’t find the time for a simple response. Even worse, you could be written up for poor communication.
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