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Annoying Habits On Email

Do you get annoyed when reading emails in your inbox? Do you feel frustrated when the writer rambles on and doesn’t get to the point? Do you feel confused when the writer doesn’t use paragraphs? Do you have to read messages several times to decipher what the reader is trying to say? If so, you’re not alone!

Every day we all encounter many annoyances in our emails – and yet we rarely say anything about them to the sender. Instead, we let the errors and etiquette blunders build up until they become a real bone of contention. So, the question is – how can you avoid people thinking the same thoughts about your emails?

Here are a few commonly-expressed annoyances that we must all take note of:

  • Capitals. The word alone may be sufficient to describe this common source of annoyance. I’m sure that you will have received an email at some point, with the key points highlighted in capitals, yet it’s a mistake that people make time and time again. Here’s an example:“I look forward to receiving your proposal by THURSDAY. As mentioned before, this project is VERY URGENT”.

    It is quite clear that the proposal is urgent and required by Thursday, so there really is no need to capitalise the key words. Anyone with a little common sense will be able to decipher the request without any obvious prompts. Capitalising words can appear to be condescending too.

  • Underlining. Have you ever seen some text underlined in an email and then put your cursor over it because you thought it was a link? Me too! Never underline anything on email. If you want to emphasise something, use bold or italics.
  • One paragraph messages. Emails that are written in one large paragraph are difficult and frustrating to read. It’s hard to focus and pick out the main points. Readers have to go over the message again and again to take in the various points and figure out how they are expected to respond.
  • Information overload. Email is great for messages, but it’s not good for a 2,000 word project brief. Unless you want the reader to acquire RSI from repeated scrolling, lengthy documents should be sent on a separate attachment, displayed appropriately.
  • Wrong words. In recent years, just about every kind of email software has a spell check option, so there really is no excuse for bad spelling and grammar. Common irritants include using there instead of their, your instead of you’re, loose instead of lose and its instead of it’s (or vice versa). I’m sure you’ve seen lots more.
  • Text language. The place for SMS-acronyms is in text messages, not in emails. It’s unprofessional and can be misunderstood.
  • Is email the best option? Be honest. How many times do you send an email when you know it would be better to pick up the phone? I’m sure we are all guilty of this. It is often better, and will save time too, to pick up the telephone and talk, rather than trying to describe in-depth events or issues in an email. And you’ll probably avoid a lot of email ding-dong and get your answer much quicker!

These are just a few examples of annoying and irritating email habits to avoid, but no doubt you will have encountered many more. The key is to check your emails carefully before you send them. Would you be happy to receive them? If not, – pause, re-think and rewrite!

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© Shirley Taylor.
Shirley is a high-energy, high-content speaker who is passionate about motivating individuals to make a real difference in our automated world. With inspiring stories and a fun style, she engages audiences quickly, and encourages them to embrace high-touch as well as high-tech so they can connect with heart.

Shirley has been a trusted member of the professional speaking and training community for many years, and has received several awards for her services in leadership. She served as Asia Professional Speakers Singapore President 2011-12 and as Global Speakers Federation President 2017-18. She has spoken in almost 20 countries all over the world.

Author of 12 books published by international publishers, Shirley has established herself as a leading authority in workplace communication, business writing, and email. Her international bestseller Model Business Letters, Emails & Other Business Documents 7th edition has sold over half a million copies worldwide and been translated into 17 languages.

If you would like Shirley to speak at your next event, visit shirleytaylor.com.

** The website link to shirleytaylor.com must be clickable to receive permission to reprint the article.