We’ve all been there: Furrowed or exaggerated brows, staring at an email message that reads just a little too aggressively. A curt response to a group email, a dismissive reply to an important message, a string of capital phrases. Ah, email. It can stir up unnecessary workplace drama thanks to subliminal jabs and passive aggressive phrases that get in the way of real work.
While we can all recall of the slights of others, could you actually be an unknowing email aggressor? For a gut-check, here’s a list of aggressive email behaviors and phrases that you may have used once or twice.
1. Repeated Reply-Alls
Being cc’d on a chain of emails with 10 people attached can not only be annoying but it can also be a tale-tell sign of passive aggressiveness. Beware of doing this because it can come off as being, one, pretentious as though you’re trying to show the entire team your accomplishments; two, it can prolong a conversation that should really be handled off-line; and three, it can appear as though you’re insensitive to the workloads of others. Nip this behavior in the bud.
2. “I don’t mean to bother you, but…”
If you’ve typed this in emails, chances are you’ve already “bothered” the recipient of the email. Or, this cliché can be a pet peeve to the person on the other end. If you are sending this to a colleague, don’t. Whatever you’re asking is probably associated with their job, and in all likelihood, you’re not bothering them — you’re simply diminishing your own power or authority. Sorry to nag…but this language has to stop.
3. CC’ing the Boss Unnecessarily
Much like running to the teacher to tell on a kid during sixth-grade recess, unnecessarily cc’ing the boss on an email exchange between you and a colleague under the guise of “transparency” can be aggressive. Don’t be the office tattle-tale.
4. Sending “Urgent” Emails that Are Not Urgent
Like yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater or crying wolf, sending an email with ‘urgent’ in the subject line when it’s not an urgent matter is just downright wrong. Furthermore, it causes unnecessary panic for colleagues. Reserve this subject line for only the most urgent matters. Otherwise, like the boy who cried wolf, no one will believe you when there really is a crisis to respond to.
5. Writing in ALL CAPS
Are you yelling?! Because that’s what using all caps looks (or sounds) like to the person receiving your email. Use correct language protocols in emails, like capitalizing the first letter of the first word in a sentence. Turn your caps lock off, and while you’re at it, quit typing with no punctuation. Business emails are not text messages — it’s not an ‘anything goes’ situation. Oh, and before we forget, nix the ellipses, the series of exclamation points and the emojis — they’re sending the message that you’re not professional.