Emails remain a basic tool of business communication, despite the rise of messaging services such as WhatsApp and Telegram. This means you still need to take care when writing emails, and be careful not to commit certain faux pas so as not to incur the wrath of your colleagues or managers.
The email marketing agency EmailTooltester surveyed nearly 1,000 American employees to find out which email habits irritate them most at work. It turns out that a quarter of respondents say they get annoyed when they receive an email in which their first or last name is misspelt.
Yet, 15% of them admit to having already made this mistake in the course of their career.
Respondents are more divided over the use of emojis in emails: 21.6% of those polled find these symbols unsuitable for the professional world, although there are differences of opinion across age groups. Members of Generation Z tolerate them more than workers aged between 35 and 44 years old, 26.4% of whom find them irritating.
But be careful not to overuse emojis, even when communicating with younger co-workers. A study published in 2017 in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science explains that the presence of these symbols in work emails can damage the professional credibility of people who use them in this context.
Indeed, they tend to be perceived as less competent than their colleagues who opt for a more serious style of writing.
Respecting social codes
Generally, employees take a dim view of anything overly personal or familiar in work-related emails. Nearly 20% of those surveyed dislike the use of nicknames in this type of email, and 18% cringe when they see a meme in the body of the text.
Many employees dislike the use of exclamation marks (17.3%) and unpersonalised greetings (15.7%) in written exchanges. Caution is also called for when it comes to puns and witticisms, as these can be open to misinterpretation.
When writing work emails, it’s best to keep things serious, concise and courteous. It’s important to respect social codes when writing professional emails, and to avoid the pitfall of overfamiliarity.
As such, take the time to write out your message properly and make sure you’re addressing it to the right person. There’s no need to copy your line manager in on every email you send, as this may raise questions and, in the worst-case scenario, make them suspicious.
Emails may be indispensable at work, but they’re not always necessary: every year, 40% of employees spend the equivalent of three weeks or even a month sorting through their work inbox and sending emails, according to research by LiveCareer.
So ask yourself how useful your message is before you send it, and don’t hesitate to schedule a telephone or face-to-face meeting with your contacts if you think your message might be better conveyed verbally.