10 Ways to Annoy Your Colleagues with Email

When I go through my email, it’s filled with messages that break every rule of business email etiquette out there. If you want to annoy your co-workers, poor email etiquette is a great way to do it. Learn proper business email etiquette.

Lisa B. Marshall
5-minute read
Episode #197

#4: Send Unsolicited Jokes or Information

I have some family members that forward every piece of information they get in email to everyone they know. I enjoy learning new things all the time, but please, please, please, check your information on Snopes.com before sending it on to me (Snopes is a web site that confirms or denies urban legends). It’s a good idea to check if what you’re sending is true because hoax emails frequently contain viruses. Please research and scan them before you forward anything—if you don’t have time for that, then please don’t send.

#3: Send First Drafts

I’m not quite sure why, but I often receive long stream-of-consciousness emails from people. You know what I’m talking about – the kind that sound like the person is talking impromptu and there are no breaks whatsoever. It’s just the person writing whatever pops into their heard without any regard to grammar, punctuation, or theme. 

Don’t get me wrong – this kind of writing can be very therapeutic and can even help you flesh out your ideas. However, this is your first draft. And you should not send it to anyone yet. If you need to write that way, edit! Then edit again, before you hit send. Be sure your most important point is first and the rest of your important points stand out. Take out any unnecessary words and add punctuation where it is needed. The clearer and more concise your email, the more likely it is that your recipients will read it, understand it, or act on it.

#2: Send a Laundry List

Emails that cover too many topics can be confusing and hard to track later. If you can, try to keep emails to one topic. If you need to cover a few things, keep them short and organized. Use bullet points or numbering to clearly call out the separate issues. If you’ve got more than four topics it’s probably better to send separate emails. 

#1:Use Red Exclamation Points for Everything

Finally, the reason I started this list. Have you ever heard the phrase “Your lack of planning is not my emergency”? If you have a real emergency, call or get a hold the person in person. If email is your only option, start your subject line with “Urgent:” and then use clear words to convey the emergency. For example, “URGENT: Client needs updated proposal by 5 pm today.”

There are so many ways to annoy your coworkers with email. If that’s your goal, I’ve given you plenty of ammunition. But if your goal is clear communication and productive work days, then think about your emails before you send them, and try to avoid these 10 bad habits.

This is Lisa B. Marshall, The Public Speaker.  Passionate about communication; your success is my business. 

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Exclamation Point and Laughing Man images from Shutterstock


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.