Email is a universal plague, though some people make it feel more of a plague than others. And since we've already seen that phrases such as "trusting you are well" and
"picking your brain" are guarantees for annoying your recipient, we at Fast Company figured we'd, ahem, "reach out" to our readers to find the other habits that cause email aggravation.
So please find a dozen of our community's most-loathed annoyances below, as culled from a few epic Facebook and Twitter conversations. If you have even more misgivings about how people misuse their missives, let us know in the comments.
1) Your email doesn't help people contact you.
The moment you send an email, it becomes someone else's reference point. This is why you should take care when you write searchable subject lines. It's also why you need to have your info obvious.
As Iza Zbonikowska told us:
No phone number in email signature. Drives me nuts in business correspondence.
2) Your sign-off is over-doing it.
Kate McElroy thinks your sign-off is trying too hard:
3) You is not doing it good, the grammar.
And so you get sloppy. With, as Taylor B O'Neal tells us on Facebook, misused ellipses. . . .
4) Your email thread is getting ridiculously long.
By virtue of the fact that you keep replying to the same emails, breeding threads that have been unspooling since 2001.
5) You’re doing your reasoning within the email, rather than before you write it.
Think through your thoughts. Then boil them down to five sentences.
6) Your sign-off is a little too tender.
Jakie Canavati wants you to keep it real, rather than romantic, when you sign off:
7) You spend way too much time disclaiming.
But on the opposite end of the spectrum is loading every message with legalistic baggage. Twitterer @fann_c puts the problem of the over-disclaimer perfectly:
8) You keep a quote in your signature.
The thing about email is that you're sending 70 or so of these things a day. So attaching various fun aspects of your identity—like, say, your taste in aphorisms—can blur the line between grateful and grating: "Thanks for the wisdom, person I email several times a day."
9) You're too cute with the way you sign your name.
Please leave out anything emoticon-like. as Matt Warrilow says:
10) You're lazy with your conversation editing.
Be mindful of your forwarding: If you're sending a decade-long transcript of conversation to someone who wasn't involved in said conversation, you need to trim it down to—or at least highlight—the relevant text.
11) You use obscure non-emoticons.
As Wayne Smallman told us on Facebook, a half-assed emoticon is insufferable. His biggest email pet peeve:"People finishing sentences with J, which I'm told is supposed to be a smilie symbol, but not."
12) You don't know when to reply all.
But the biggest source of inbox sorrow is the over-used "reply all," especially if you're just writing "thanks" or "got it." (This is such a big problem that someone is even making a Zach Galifianakis movie about it.)
Remember: Not everyone needs to be emailed about everything you do. That's what Twitter is for.
[Image: Flickr user Andy Rennie]