The words we use to express ourselves at work continue to evolve. And no channel is the repository of so many of our daily missives than email. To find out exactly what has changed about the way we use that (oft-loathed) communication, Grammarly polled more than 3,400 members of its global community. Their findings reveal some surprises.
Reports of the demise of email are greatly exaggerated. Thirty-six percent of respondents said they spend over three hours a day emailing. Our parents may never have dreamed that emojis and GIFs would ever wind their way into correspondence, but pre-email memos and letters exuded formality. Perhaps that’s why only 1 in 10 email users over 55 ever heard that their tone is too informal compared to one in six under 35.
Formality, or lack thereof, and friendliness is a hard balance to strike in written communication, and it’s making us insecure. The majority (93%) admit to making email faux pas. This may be why more than half of respondents said they read their email drafts between two and four times before sending, and nearly a third said they used the “unsend” function to take back an email they weren’t confident about.
Despite people’s best efforts, tone can still be misinterpreted. Only 18% of women said they received feedback that their tone was too harsh versus 23% of men, 38% of nonbinary people, and 44% of gender nonconforming people. No wonder people add images to lighten their tone. Only 9% of respondents reported sending a GIF at work whose meaning was misunderstood by the recipient.
As for exclamation points, the sentiment is mixed: As many as 35% of respondents said using two is appropriate while 23% say as many as necessary.
In other words, it’s probably okay to use them, but do it with caution!!