Here’s an Email to Justify My Existence…

“Stay tuned for another email on this topic!”

Nuvola-like mail internet
Nuvola-like mail internet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you ever find yourself thinking, “Gee, I don’t get enough email these days.” Me neither. Yet, it seems as though any time someone wants you to pay attention to something that they’re doing, they send out not only emails telling you about it, but also emails notifying you about upcoming emails.

I tune into TV series if I want additional suspense in my life. How many of those do I actually watch? Approximately zero, unless I’m coerced by someone else into watching them.

Regardless, I don’t want extra emails in my inbox, especially if they’re emails notifying me of upcoming emails. At some point, you’re going to make me train my spam filter to throw away all emails. Oops. Too late.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Offensive Email

No, not offensive email that will get you in trouble with HR, just with the recipients of your emails who already have enough bloat in their inboxes.

This email is all wrong. Don't send it.

What’s the problem?

  1. I think we covered the part about motivational sayings in email signatures previously
  2. The information block in your email signature is excessive. Internally, we know what company you work for. Externally, the title/department information probably won’t mean much.
  3. You’re sending an email for a one word reply. I know acknowledgment is necessary, but coupled with everything else, it’s excessive.
  4. Your one word reply is the same as your valediction or complimentary close:  “Thanks. Thanks,” sounds like “Pizza! Pizza!
  5. You have an image that’s larger than the rest of your excessive signature block and message body combined–and it’s taking up way more space in email [if you’re using Outlook] than it did on the computer you copied it from.

Inbox Trolling

A fun game to play when you have a completely unmanageable inbox is to start replying to long email threads that you were included on but never participated in. It helps if the administrators of your mail system allow messages to stick around for about 3 months–usually long enough to potentially impact a decision, but way too late to do so without tremendous cost.

The key is to remain inconspicuous about your trolling. You must raise legitimate concerns, but not be too adamant about decisions being changed. The best policy is to plant little nagging doubts in everyone’s minds, then walk away.

Start with the oldest threads first, resurrecting them in mid-discussion, then sit back and watch the discussion re-ignite.

Repeat in sequence with newer threads in your inbox once the entertainment value of the current thread dies away.

Email Violating Personalities


Yes, Email is Still the Way to #fail in a Deep, Meaningful Way

However, there are some ways to fail in smaller ways on a daily basis:

  • General etiquette violators
    • bcc: everyone – There are times when bcc: is desirable, e.g., when sending out a broadcast email to a large group to limit the damage of those who are too quick with “Reply to All” button. In this case, however, a person is conducting a business transaction of some sort and not revealing who else is “in the know”. Results in a lot of, “I don’t know if you’ve seen this or not,” email forwards.
    • Thread trimmer – selectively deletes one or two people periodically from a large email chain, confusing every participant on the list.
    • Reply to All abuser – distinguished from the casual Reply to All user by the use of the button in replying to department-wide email distributions.
    • Subtle Humor User – keeps you guessing on whether the person is joking.
    • !???!! – really is enthusiastic and/or concerned.
    • Priorities are out-of-whack – uses high (or even stranger low) priority markers to try to get attention for what is generally little more than an FYI email.
    • Receipt requestor – Good grief, do you really need a read receipt from the 100 people you emailed about the pot luck on Friday?
  • Appearance violators
    • Pastels and Cute Fonts User – Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
    • Script kitty – uses a nearly illegible cursive font for a default font.
    • Noisy Backgrounder – uses a background that obscures the ability to read the text on top.
    • Reverse video – loves light on dark appearance settings, which completely wreck havoc with anyone else’s replies.
  • Signature violators
    • The signature that never ends – Really, if you need to be contacted so badly that you leave your mother-in-law’s home phone, you probably should have a company cell phone.
    • Motivation spreader – Puts motivational sayings in the signature.
    • Massive signature image – Uses an embedded image in the signature that often dwarfs the email body itself.
  • Attachment violators
    • Media mailer – Those who try to attach mp3s and videos and somehow manage to fly under the “attachment size limit” radar. Unaware that audio and video actually take up a lot of storage space.
    • Sender of abnormally large documents – Someone who manages to send “office” documents that somehow violate the normal proportions and end up hitting the attachment size limit after about 10 pages.
    • Image embedder – Someone who doesn’t realize that Outlook converts embedded images to the most inefficient format possible. May use PowerPoint as an email formatting tool.

Email is Still the Way to #Fail in a Deep, Meaningful Way

Twitter is for Explosive Fails

I have to admit, if you’re going to fail spectacularly, email is no longer the best option.

At this point in time, Twitter is the best option:

The upside of failing on Twitter is that everyone following Twitter news seems to have such a short attention span, that…  oh look a cute kitten.

Email is for Deep, Meaningful Fails

Still, if you want to fail on a deep, personal level, email is still the way to go. Email allows you the space to make you think that your sarcasm or bad humor is getting across, unlike Twitter, which limits you to 140 characters.

More importantly, unlike phone conversations and face-to-face meetings [assuming no external recording devices are used], email always leaves a somewhat permanent record of your poor judgment.

Some tips on making your email failure a meaningful experience:

  • When someone sends an email asking for confirmation before proceeding, be sure to respond in a font 4 times the size of all prior correspondence.
  • …ALL CAPS helps as well.
  • Be sure to add sarcasm to your response, but be careful not to indicate sarcasm in any way.  Your readers should be able to recognize the sarcasm unless they are complete idiots, in which case, they deserve to take the response the wrong way.
  • Be sure to use non-neutral and high contrast foreground [lime green]/background[fire engine red] colors in your response, in order to simulate a migraine in the person reading your response.
  • Be sure to reply to all whenever you’re angry.  This increases the likelihood that someone will respond quickly.
  • Whatever you do, don’t hesitate to use email when you’re emotional. Talking on the phone or in person can only show weakness.  In email, everyone’s a WARRIOR.

Exclamation points necessary!!

Once upon a time, in what people used to call “grammar school”, the exclamation point was a thing of mystery. It was generally something that seemed to never have a use in writing, with the exception of after an interjection or a strongly emphasized command.

The Wikipedia article on the exclamation mark quotes F. Scott Fitzgerald:

Cut out all those exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own jokes.

So, when did exclamation points go from “to be used as sparingly as capsaicin extract in chili” to “like salt on french fries?” It seems as though any reply of gratitude via email, text, or instant message requires at least one exclamation point if you’re grateful, and two if it was a big help. Don’t underemphasize your gratitude with a period. It may come out as a forced “thank you”, similar to the way your parents made you thank an aunt for an ugly sweater.

Some people even extend this required emphasis by put things in ALL CAPS.

Maybe we should suspend coffee service to the office for a while.


Keep your motivational sayings to yourself and not in my email.

I appreciate that you love your job, or that you at least have a daily affirmation that you repeat to tell yourself that you do.

Do you know who reads your motivational saying when you use it in your signature line?  Hint:  It’s not you.

Yes, that’s right.  Everyone else reads your motivational saying.  It gets attached to every request for help.  It gets attached to every reminder to fill out my bureaucratic paperwork.  It gets attached to every admonition that you send out.

Now I know why you enjoy your job.  You’re making us miserable with being a bureaucratic task master.

Think about the perception of that email signature.

Stop sending powerpoint slides exported to bitmaps via email.

(Amazon affiliate link)

I feel like I’m playing a game of digital whack-a-mole with my email.  My inbox keeps bumping up against its quota.

I then spend X amount of time weeding out my inbox, archiving folders, etc., to get the email that is on the server down to 40% of my quota.  I then leave for lunch, only to find another 5% of my quota eaten up by 3 broadcast messages.

Did you know you can export a PowerPoint slide to a bitmap image?  Did you know you can copy and paste that same image into an email?  Did you know you can paste the same stuff into a calendar invite that you can put into an email?

Well, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.  Sure, my inbox quota is tiny by modern computing standards, but this is all the more reason not to attach large images in an email.

Of course, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Unless it’s a picture of 50 words on a PowerPoint slide.  And 50 words in light green on a white background is probably worth less than 50 words.

One more thing: If you send important things like agenda updates or such which are embedded in this exported PowerPoint slide, Outlook will not find them.  It doesn’t know how to read the text in an image.