people can be really annoying with email

Email has made our jobs a lot easier — but it’s introduced some new bumps into office life as well. I recorded a piece for the BBC about how email has made work life a little trickier — including reply-all offenders and the people who send you an email and then show up at your desk a minute later asking, “Have you seen my email?”

It’s about three minutes long and you can listen here.

{ 175 comments… read them below }

  1. Lena Clare

    I never get why people answer just one question out of three!

    Or those who respond to an email full of information about x, y, and z, asking “can you tell me what to do about x, y, and z?”

    Not reading I guess.

    1. Angwyshaunce

      This drives me nuts, when someone answers the first question in an email and just ignores the rest. Happens all too frequently.

      1. peachie

        I hate that! At this point, I bold, italicize, highlight, bullet point, and otherwise text format my emails so much that I sometimes worry about it coming across as condescending, but…

        1. Asenath

          Sometimes I even send more than one email, with one question in each. Not the best solution, but really, there are so many people who don’t read even a list of two or three bullet points.

        2. The Other Dawn

          There’s someone who does this in my new office, although she goes way overboard. She makes the font bigger, uses different colors, bolds certain words or sentences, highlights, etc. I have to admit, I do find it condescending at times. Also, her message tends to get diluted because it’s so busy, and because she does all of these things in one email, I can’t tell what’s important and what’s not. I find when I read one of her emails, I just skim it.

          I think it can be effective when used sparingly, but not when every other sentence is a size 24 font in bolded red.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Some folks don’t digest text well I’ve learned. Sometimes they’re minds just skim an email, find nothing important to them and move on or just pick out the one question at the end because it’s all that jumped out at them.

      I had this happen the other day with a vendor. I sent them a PDF of an order saying “see, we entered all the information that was requested in your form that was submitted.” The response was just a “list” of information they need to enter the order into their system. So I used the highlight feature, screenshotted it and put it in the email saying “Here you go, this is where all that information is. So now where do we go from here?”

      They didn’t even then acknowledge that they had goofed and gave me some weird script response. Like when you call tech-support for your computer and say “Hi, so this is happening. I already rebooted and tried that, what’s next?” and they say “Have you rebooted, you have to reboot before we can do anything for you.” “I did reboot it.” “I need you to reboot it right now, are you next to your device?”

      1. SaffyTaffy

        I remember being really shocked when I met this vendor I had only spoken to over email, and he was a perfectly normal and eloquent human being. Emailing with him was full of “yes” responses to open-ended questions, replies to ask for info that was already in the short message, and a severe flatness in tone. I’ve decided that he must just not be a text guy.

        But I should say, that tech support thing? You wouldn’t believe how often people lie about rebooting. Or, rather, how often once you tell them to do it in front of you, it suddenly works.

        1. Admin in Arkansas

          Was coming to say this. As a former Tech Coord I for a large telecommunications company, we are required by policy for that to be the first step in our troubleshooting, because if you get half way through a series of steps and then perform a reboot, there’s no way of knowing if it was the steps that rectified the problem or the reboot, and if it was the latter you could very well call in again and be annoyed that you have to do a bunch of steps all over again.
          Plus, it takes no time at all to perform a simple reboot. If it does take a good bit of time, your phone has other issues.
          Hilarious and quasi-related were the people that were flabbergasted when I informed them that we cannot perform troubleshooting on a problematic phone if you are currently making a phone call from it. C: “Oh yes we can! I finally got a person and I’m gonna get some service! Whats the first step?”
          T: “Power the device off and then back on.”
          C: “Ok one sec….*click*”

          1. Bryce

            I had an issue on one phone where when I left my home’s wifi it didn’t pick up the cell network (had it set for wifi calling to save minutes). This was on my way out the door for a long trip and I was worried about being stuck. I head into the local provider in a panic.
            “Okay, I power cycled it and it seems to be working now.”
            “Whew, that’s great. How do I power cycle it should the problem arise again?”
            *anticipatory cringe* “Um… that just means turn it off and on again.”
            “Oh. Right. Wow, usually I’d have thought to try that first but I guess I went straight into panic mode. Thanks.”

          2. Gatomon

            I disagree, rebooting should be done only after other solutions have been ruled out. It clears any diagnostic logs that didn’t get sent to the syslog server (on applicable gear) and can mask hardware and software issues. It’s generally the last step we recommend at the ISP I work at. It’s too easy, especially for Tier 1, to just tell the customer to reboot and close the ticket instead of solving the problem. We’ve seen it lead to a lot of unhappy customers – some continue to call in and never get escalated to tier 2 or higher and others just stop calling in and stew in their hatred of us for the poor service.

            Where it really gets my goat is on our core network gear. Techs go out and reboot things without clearing it with us and it just wastes time and adds to confusion when troubleshooting. If I think there is a software bug and a reboot is warranted, I want to combo that with an upgrade to the latest software version to reduce overall downtime and hopefully prevent the bug from reoccurring. And if I need to go to the vendor about the issue, I have zilch for them to go on if I’ve just rebooted the device.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch

          Sales/account reps are notoriously bad at email I’ve learned years ago, that’s for sure! I blame it on their workload as well, they’re frequently on the go and have to skim/multi-task when it comes to emails.

          This is also why many of mine tend to get an email and then just show up at the door to discuss it, despite it really not being that big of deal. It also is their “thing” since they’re taught that face time is going to keep their customers happiest [not this millennial who prefers you to stay behind the screen but whatever, sure come in and oh great you brought donuts!]

          People…lie about rebooting. FML, of course it’s some jackhole like that who makes it hard on the rest of us who are suddenly lumped in with this kind of nonsense. It makes me rage even harder only because I only ever call tech support when I’ve exhausted all my efforts but yeah, it makes sense given the BS I found out my dad tried asking support about years ago. I saw some chat transcripts of him trying to talk to internet provider support about the fact the computer was just malfunctioning and had nothing to do with the GD provider, it was awful.

        3. Deejay

          One former workplace of mine did tech support for a chain of shops. We’d often have the following exchange:

          Shop staff: My keyboard’s not working
          Tech support: Please make sure it’s plugged in
          SS: Yes, it is
          TS: Sorry to have to ask this, but can you double-check to be absolutely certain it’s firmly in?
          SS: Yes, it is
          TS: Okay, we’ll send you a new keyboard

          When the keyboard arrived, we’d often have an angry shop manager on the phone asking us why it never occurred to us to ask if the original keyboard was plugged in before sending out a new one.

          1. Tom

            To which i would probably reply “has it ever occurred to you to instruct your people to listen to our questions and act accordingly, because as you can hear in the recorded call (if you have it, of course, otherwise ticket log with name of employee, and time you spoke to employee) / see in the ticket that John Doe confirmed, twice, it was plugged in – where he obviously did not check, wasting your time, my time and company money”. (yes, i can do that in my job – i realize not all can)

          2. Al who is that Al

            The way round that one is to ask them to pick up the keyboard and move 3 feet backwards. If they can, its usually unplugged.

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

      I’ve learned to be very concise and to the point with my emails and some people still don’t read and absorb the whole thing. The amount of times certain people ask a question when the answer is right in front of their face is ridiculous. In fact this morning I sent an email to my team with a screen shot of the tickets that we’ve included in our release at the end of the week to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Our developer responded and said, “ticket 123 is part of this release”. Ticket 123 was the first one in the screen shot I sent. Some people are just hopeless and it take multiple emails to get stuff done when one should suffice. Very frustrating.

      1. Amethystmoon

        I have recently come to believe that reading and comprehending e-mails is essentially a super power these days.

      2. Deejay

        My favourite email exchange went like this:

        Other person: We should meet. When’s good for you?
        Me: I can do any day except Thursday
        Other person: How about Thursday?

        Now if he’d said “Thursday’s the only day I can do”, I’d have understood and tried to rearrrange my schedule to make Thursday possible. But this was simply not reading what was right in front of him.

    4. I Go OnAnonAnonAnon

      I just had a 12-email exchange in order to schedule one 30-minute phone call, because every time I sent a (brief and clear!) email with 3 questions that needed to be answered (date, time, phone number), I got back either just “Thanks!” or a response to 1-2, but never all 3, questions. Twelve emails over more than a week to book one call!

          1. Asenath

            I swear I have a similar problem with emails. People look at the “from” and think “Oh, that’s just Asenath nagging again” and ignore it. But nagging is a big part of my job, as in “get this done and keep after the X (I mean a group of people and not a curse, although there are times is could be either ) until you get an answer from them all.

        1. I Go OnAnonAnonAnon

          Tried that, too, and got voice mail. Left my three questions (date, time, number). Got no reply.

        2. Nanani

          And play phone tag with them answer question 1 in voice mail but never 2 or 3?
          Plus you might need it in writing for later reference anyway.

          1. Asenath

            Some people I work with (or try to) don’t have voicemail. You get messages saying “We are in the office from 9:00 -12:00 and 1:00-4:00. Please call between these times. This machine does not record messages”. And you check the time, and you are in the allowed time, but they STILL aren’t answering.

      1. CatMom

        OMG THIS. With clients. “I can do Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday at X:00.” “Yes, thank you.” ???????

        Sometimes I think it’s an attempted power move.

    5. M. Albertine

      My technique for addressing this is something like the following format:

      Three Action Items:
      1) Update contact information to malbertine@company.com
      2) Please re-send invoice #569721 to above email address
      3) Please send a copy of the completed contract agreement to tptb@company.com

      It has not completely solved the problem, but laying it out in bullet points does seem to help.

    6. Michael Valentine

      I’m do both admin and tech support work. I have learned I often need to send one sentence/question emails, and for certain folks who do most everything on their phones? If it’s short enough, I put the message in the subject line. I also try to make the question one with a yes/no answer.

      If I can’t be that succinct, I will bold what should be answered. Or I’ll ask one question at a time. Get an answer, send another question. It’s so annoying, but it’s the only way I can get the information I need sometimes!

      1. Michael Valentine

        Let me add that I have a list of folks I try to call instead. Cuts out all the back and forth! These are internal folks, mainly, although I have a couple clients who I encourage to call me so we can sort out details.

      2. Willow

        I used to have to do that with a boss – if I had three points, I had to send three emails, because he would just stop reading after the first point if I sent only one email.

    7. OtterB

      I confess I do this sometimes. It’s more likely to happen when one of the several questions requires a more in-depth answer and I go off and look things up and edit a paragraph or two to make my response as clear as I can, and shoot it off before I answer the others.

      Then, like the email that says “document attached” followed by the email saying “oops, now the document is attached,” I often realize my own mistake and send a followup email saying, “Oops, forgot to answer your other question, here’s the answer.”

    8. Seeking Second Childhood

      My personal pet peeve is when my question is “A or B (and here are details)”
      And they answer “Yes.”

    9. sum of two normal distributions

      Holy mackerel does the responding to one question out of three annoy me. There is one offender (X) in my office that I have to actually meet with or call to ask any more than one question (this is literally the suggestion my manager gave after explaining how it’s slowing my work down when it takes X three emails with follow-ups (!!) to answer three questions).

      Calling doesn’t usually bother me but we don’t work jobs where we are always at our desks so emailing is really the most effective way to communicate.

  2. That Girl From Quinn's House

    My favorite scenario: *just walks in after 45 minute commute.*
    Coworker: Do you have the dinosaur eggs ready!?
    Me: What?
    Coworker: There was an email, the dinosaur eggs have to be ready!!
    Me: What? When did this happen! Nobody told me!
    Coworker: Oh, ten minutes ago, you didn’t see it yet?
    Me: No, I don’t check my email while I’m driving!
    *checks email, dinosaur eggs are due in six months*

    1. Boop

      Oh my goodness I have coworker EXACTLY like this!! What do you in these types of cases?

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

        Be direct and factual. “I just walked in and have a 45 minute commute. You can assume that any emails that are sent in the hour before I get here have not yet been seen by me.” Rinse and repeat.

        1. Mockingjay

          “You do know that it is against the law in this state to text or email while driving? I can be cited for distracted driving.”

          1. Amethystmoon

            My state just passed a law like that, but it doesn’t take effect for another month. I wish it would have taken effect earlier.

    2. Jamie

      I see you’ve worked with my former co-worker. Had to create a rule just for her that if my purse is still on my shoulder and I haven’t yet sat down the only true emergencies are fire and a server down.

      1. Glengarry

        And my former coworker, as well! Had to implement that exact rule – wait until I’ve taken my coat off, put my bag away and sat down in my chair. Then Thunderbirds are GO!

        If I had wanted to be mean I could have dra-a-a-a-a-wn out the actions, because so many times she would be twitching and fiddling and sighing as she desperately waited for me to be ready.

    3. Errol

      And my personal favorite (for setting purposes, my office front door opens into the main reception area where you have to walk through to walk down the hall to my office)
      Me – walks through the front door in the morning
      Boss “do you have that stuff from the email yesterday ready? i needed it yesterday before you left” as I’m 2 steps into the office from outside
      Me – “What email are you talking about?”
      Boss “oh, the one I’m sending you right now.” phone in his hand makes the email sending noise

      the hardest of eye rolls.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        That’s a close cousin to what a working group across the globe has done frequently… PersonA sends an urgent email at 6pm (after I leave for the day and my hours are posted in Skype & MSOutlook). PersonB on the distribution list sends me several dunning emails because I haven’t answered by 5:30am my time zone. This has more than once this has led to them trying to schedule a meeting with me before the building is even open in the morning. (I suggested they tell senior management to authorize my department for telecommute… that’s a price I’d happily pay to be allowed to TC again regularly!)

        1. Willow

          Yeah, my boss has “spoken to me” several times that I am unreachable. You mean by the East Coast folks because I come in too late for them, or the West Coast folks because I left too early for them? And he won’t tell me who is upset so I could address it directly with that person, like adults.

    4. Eukomos

      Oh man, that’s my life, except instead of a coworker it’s my boss, so when she says do it now we do it now. So we’re now fully three months ahead of schedule and are therefore contacting people in other departments about things that they won’t be able to make a decision on for another three months. Which makes my boss freak out and cancel projects that we totally have the capacity to do, we just have to wait for the appropriate time to do them. *sigh*

    5. cncx

      i work in IT and this happens EVERY SINGLE TIME
      or, my personal favorite having gotten back from vacation, getting people walking up to my desk talking about stuff that i wasn’t involved in and not in the email chain for, which happened today

  3. TypityTypeType

    At a former job, cc’ing a boss was known among us admins as “hostile-copying.” As in, “He actually hostile-copied the department head about re-ordering copy paper.” It was the cause of much eye-rolling.

    1. Jerk Store

      I’ve been in admin-related roles, and the best example was when a coworker CCed a supervisor I didn’t even report to. If you’re going to try to get me in trouble, maybe check the org chart to make it worth your while?

      Or, in your example. I like to able to reply and say, “Yeah, there’s four full boxes of paper in the same place we always keep it. I have attached the supply room diagram I send out quarterly for your reference”

      1. Little Tin Goddess

        Ive had agents CC their bosses as well as my boss, trying to get me in trouble when the issue was with them and I could prove it to my boss.

        Ive aslo had people at the same insurance agency email me with a request to update X. I update X and 20 minutes later, I get another email with everyone copied under the sun saying I requested Y to be done. I update Y, email her back and say Ive done Y but you never requested Y to be done, you requested X to be done, which was done the first time you asked.

        Talked to my boss about it and he starts laughing and could clearly see that the mistake was hers, not mine. I told him I wasn’t a mind reader and I obly do what they ask me to do. If they don’t ask me, it doesnt work out well for them.

        1. Environmental Compliance

          In a prior life in a county health department, I once had a contractor cc in their client (the homeowner) in on a very snappy email to me about how I’m taking too long to issue a permit and how dare I delay their client’s new house!!1!

          They did not like it when I also cc’d in the homeowner in a response back with an attachment of why the permit was rejected 3 weeks ago for xyz, with the original email sent to the contractor, and a statement saying we are still waiting on information xyz & abc prior to permit issuance, as was stated in the previous email. “Why did you cc Homeowner???!!!” Well, you did, so I figured you wanted them to be updated too.

          It was 100% a bullying tactic used by a couple of the contractors I had to work with until they realized it wasn’t going to get them anywhere.

    2. Janet Snakehole

      I’m worried I may be a little bit guilty of this… usually not with malicious intent (I hope), but Person X hasn’t yet done Thing Q, and I cannot move forward without it.

      What are the guidelines for when it might actually be helpful/necessary to CC other people?

      1. Jerk Store

        If person X hasn’t acknowledged your email, I think it’s okay to follow up and CC their manager, but not on the first request. Unless it’s something like they are supposed to email you a list of numbers every Monday morning or something.

        When I have a legit reason to CC a manager, I include why in my email. “I’m looping in Fergus so he knows what I am working on” “I’m CCing Jane in case Lucinda to swamped with the sales report to process this.”

      2. Seeking Second Childhood

        I have one person who is a bottleneck on paying vendors… and I have some vendors who have been waiting for payment for over six months. After many emails on the subject I started copying his manager… I should have started months ago, because this is getting us somewhere. But each email he goes only one step closer to closing out the account.

      3. Amethystmoon

        Depends on the job. In a previous job, we were forced to copy supervisors when there were issues with outside people not doing things they were supposed to do. It was always electronic paperwork.

      4. Kendra

        Also, if there’s a chance the person might be out on leave for an extended period of time, and they haven’t set up an out-of-office alert letting you know who to contact instead, I think it’s totally appropriate to cc their manager, who is presumably in charge of assigning their work while they’re gone. There’s nothing quite like thinking you’re being ignored by someone who’s actually been in a serious car accident or something!

      5. Asenath

        I confess that I do sometimes copy someone higher in the food chain when my initial target has simply not responded for a length of time and I want it on record that I did my bit by trying to reach them. I use the method sparingly, but when I do, it often works.

        More often, I copy peers on certain tasks which we all contribute to, and which rapidly get out of control if it isn’t perfectly clear just which parts of the job which people have done. This is particularly important, because some of the students try an end run – “Well, I’m supposed to contact Susan who will contact Asenath who will do whatever weird things she does, but just to be sure, I’m going to send exactly the same request to Susan, Asenath, Sam, Jack, Araminta and westcoastrep at work.com, whoever that is. That’ll ensure my request gets to the head of the line”.

      6. Not So NewReader

        Had this one happen to me recently. I am working on Big Fire Problem and everyone can see I am dealing with Big Fire. Except for one person, who is very concerned about Small Issue. When I don’t answer her about Small Issue, she pulls in other people to “make” me answer her. I had no answers for her because until Big Fire was resolved, no one was available to help her. But by some magic, I am in the wrong, somehow.

        Most smaller groups I have worked with tend to know when one person is seriously buried and they leave that buried person alone so they can dig out.

        There is nothing wrong with checking with people to see if there might be a reason a certain person is not responding. Especially if the person has been responsive in the past. In my case, it was pretty apparent that I was tied up with a much more serious issue, except of course to that one particular person.

        1. Tom

          Some people.
          I have one of those stories.
          A helpful salesmanager used his personal home PC to complete a presentation and some information for our field engineers. He saved it on a USB drive so in the meeting they could share it.
          He was unaware though that his home PC had a virus on it – which triggered replication via ALL usb devices with some storage.
          So, a day after the 40 people engineer meeting and the additional 25 people ‘hey you should have this info too meeting’ – i was up to my eyebrows in a virusoutbreak. (fun times).
          So, in comes Newbie (started 2 weeks before) with a (normally) reasonable request to get program X added to his PC as that would be useful for upcoming project “patience” which was starting in 5 weeks or so.
          I told him ‘normally yes, but now i`m battling a virusoutbreak that cripples our field engineers – so please wait till that`s over’
          Newbie frowns, but walks away.
          10 minutes later – department manager walks in “can you give Newbie program X” – to which I replied “I told him ‘not yet’ as i`m dealing with a virus outbreak’ Manager nods, and walks away.
          15 mins later – the trainer/mentor of Newbie calls – same question. I responded, somewhat annoyed that ‘no, the virus isn`t eradicated yet, please be patient, as i told you already twice before’. *click*
          Then another 30 minutes later the office manager walks in – saying ‘Newbie said you refused to help him with installing program X’ – to which i somewhat went sarcastic and said ‘well, if he would have the capacity to listen and comprehend – he has been told, 3 times already by me, by Manager and by Mentor that ‘no, not yet’ due to this virus. So , you choose – either let the engineers sit doing nothing as their equipment is crippled, or he waits until i`m done – and given that i`m at PC 38 of 65 that`ll take about 1 more day. If i get one more question about his program X – i`ll disable his account -and refuse to support him anymore.

          4 days later Newbie was fired for taking lunch sandwiches from the table of a client meeeting, before the client had sat down for lunch. I cannot say i was sad about that development – that was in this job the ONLY one that got under my skin and caused me to really loose my temper.

    3. MOAS

      Funny story. When I first started out, a senior acc responsible for reviewing my work would CC my boss on what I had done wrong on the return. I was freaking out all the time and thought she was trying to get me in trouble.

      Fast forward 2-3 years, I started reviewing, and in my “training” period, *I* would bcc my boss… not to get anyone in trouble, but to show him the kind of questions I was asking, what I was pointing out..basically reviewing my review process and making sure I was doing it correctly.

      So, sometimes it depends. Now that I am a manager, sometimes I will CC my grandboss on a group email so that everyone is aware…..

      1. TechWorker

        It’s common in my company to cc the whole team (currently ~8 people including the manager and second line) not *all* the time but much of the time. This is so everyone has a vague idea of what’s going on/it’s easier for people to pick things up if someone is ill or on holiday. When people email us too it’s invariably more useful if they email the whole team – otherwise what happens is they decide to email either the manager (fine but annoying as means they then have more email/have to farm out simple questions that someone else could quickly handle) or the last person they spoke to on the team at random (who’s rarely the person they actually want). I don’t see this as particularly terrible but maybe it’s company culture!

    4. Leela

      This can come back to bite people so hard! I was sent a *furious* e-mail from someone who CC’ed my manager and it really came off like she was trying to get me in trouble. I couldn’t even tell what she was upset about; it was literally the first time we’d ever spoken and I had no context. I replied asking for more details and she just kept doubling down and eventually it came out that she had sent an e-mail to the wrong e-mail address trying to get me to do something that she thought was my jurisdiction (but isn’t). Because she’d insisted in CCing my manager (who is also hers) she just really ended up embarrassing herself when it all came out because the manager saw not only her unprofessional demeanor but also that it was all caused by her own mistakes. She apologized to the manager but not to me, I only know because he told me. She did eventually apologize for “the confusion” but never for her behavior.

      1. Errol

        I used to get this ALL the time, usually from the same three people. They would CC in my boss and all that jazz, and be livid I didn’t do something.

        Turns out they ALWAYS wanted Jane Lynch in logistics, not Jane Fonda in a whole other division without access to anything they were asking for.

        Usually I’d get the original email, notice the mistake ‘Reply All’ so there was more of a chance someone would get that they sent it to the wrong Jane. Then a few times at the crunch point, I’d get obscene and/or furious emails about not doing the thing with my boss, our accountant and our business director (why them too) cc’d in. It was always such a pleasure to attach the email from months ago being like “as per my email DATE 3 MONTHS AGO, you are looking for Jane Lynch at Alpaca Group. I am Jane Fonda at Llamas Inc. ” Never once got an apology, but my boss always did find it absolutely hilarious.

    5. LuJessMin

      At my previous job, the measurement group would never answer my emails. My manager would have to send an email to them, copying me on it, to get the information I needed. They were always quick to respond to him.

  4. kc89

    god people can be so bad on e-mail

    my co-worker recently sent a very clear question to HR and got back “thanks!”

    but…her question…

  5. Miss May

    Oh my– I just got done with something like that. I literally asked someone to contact a IT for me (I’m not allowed to– “chain of command”) and this person didn’t do it. When asked, they said that they assumed I would contact IT!

  6. ALM2019

    I have a coworker who has a much earlier shift than the rest of us, which means an email can go through quite a few replies before she gets in the next day to see it. She’ll reply to each email in the chain separately, even to questions which have already been answered the day before. I was on the phone with her early one morning as she was asking me a question about a topic 2-3 emails into a chain that was about 10 emails along. I said “maybe if you go to the LAST email and read the whole thing you’ll see it’s all answered there, and you can read all of them at one shot!” She wasn’t too happy with me that day.

    1. No Green No Haze

      Long email chains are in fact the devil, though.

      I’ve got a couple of supervisors who, instead of sorting out for themselves what information our department needs, add us to the world’s longest email chain covering every stage and iteration of the project. Say we’re in charge of the Llama Quinceañera, we get every back-and-forth about the llama’s birth, boarding school, potential course electives and sniffles, decisions from the weeks-ago planning stage right up to the minute. It’s maddening.

      1. Leela

        the worst! I hate having to scour an enormous e-mail chain for the one or two tiny details that I need. God help me if I need to revisit it later for anything and have to do it again, it’s such a frustrating waste of time.

    2. Glengarry

      My old boss was like this. Our offices were next to each other with a connecting door, and she’d be reading all her emails after being away and would constantly be shouting things like “why hasn’t [task] been done yet?” “we need to send [information] to [person]”, etc.

      And I’d be shouting back:

      “Keep reading your emails – you’ll see everything has been taken care of”
      “KEEP reading your emails – you’ll see EVERYTHING has been taken care of”
      “KEEP READING YOUR EMAILS GODDAMMIT!!!”

  7. RandomU...

    Timely topic is timely… here’s a paraphrased email conversation I had today:

    EMAIL:
    Them: blah blah blah… for a couple of paragraphs on a current challenge that cuts across teams… I heard you had a meeting with my employee. I need your requirements and can you send me tell me all of the gaps? Can we meet to discuss?
    Me: Yeah, it wasn’t a bid deal, we had an informal discussion yesterday. Sure toss something on our calendar or tell me when you can talk today.
    Them: Ok, but before we talk can you give me a summary of the struggles and the blah blah blah…
    Me: Is there a problem? I assume you’ve chatted with your employee. I’m open to discussing, not sure why we are doing the back and forth email thing.
    Them: lol.. I’m trying to find to find out if there is a problem… blah blah blah. I’ll schedule a meeting.

    During meeting:

    Them: BLAH Problem!
    Me: Woah… guy’s new and doesn’t know how this works. I gave him some tips and we talked about how he and I will work together on this going forward and how our parts intertwine. Same conversation you and I had 6months ago when you did this for the first time.
    Them: Blahhhhhhhh
    Me: sigh…

    There’s obviously a back story to this (and this is about the 4th time we’ve had this same conversation in the past 2 years). Is it fireworks time yet?

    1. RandomU...

      ETA: I should have said what really bothered me about the email exchange. No, I’m not going to put everything in the email that we are going to talk about it the meeting. If I do that, then why bother meeting?

  8. Ali G

    My previous boss was a micromanager and also wasn’t very confident in her role. She wanted to me to copy her on almost every email I sent. Even though I thought it was ridiculous, I did it. Then she would ask me questions about mundane things, well below her level, because she didn’t know about them (she didn’t need to know about them – they were just day-to-day things). So I would answer her questions and explain things to her, wasting so much time in the process. Then she would act like I shouldn’t have copied her in the first place, so I would stop copying her on those types of emails. Then someone would mention something from one of those emails and she would FREAK OUT that she hadn’t received that email.
    I do not work for her anymore for this and many other reasons.

    1. RandomU...

      I think that’s the number 1 sign of a bad boss. I’ve only asked to be copied on my employees emails when it’s a big problem that I want to keep tabs on, if they are sending an email to my boss or higher in case I get questions on the subject, or anything they need help with.

      I hate my own email, I certainly don’t need anyone else’s!

      1. Ali G

        It was definitely true in this case! She was the worst boss I ever had in so many ways.

    2. MOAS

      I’m a manager. Sometimes I ask about day to day, minor things, or like how the software works or something. But I kinda prefer not to know? But others insist on telling me the day to day things b/c if I say I don’t need to know, I’m being too arrogant and high adn might. *shrugs*

  9. Jerk Store

    My work email pet peeves:

    – (I mentioned this already) Coming back from being on PTO and responding to emails before reading all of them or turning on conversations.

    – replying-all to an email about a colleague hitting a goal or getting promoted with just, “Congrats!” – just send it to the person you’re congratulating.

    – putting the whole message in the subject line

    – I have a fairly common name that can be spelled different ways – I’ll say Sara for example. My email address is sara dot last name @ companyname and my name is in my email signature; coworkers reply to my email with “Thanks, Sarah!” or spelled wrong then right in the same response. Or my favorite, “I can’t find Sarah Lastname in the Outlook directory!” “That’s because it’s under Sara Lastname.”

    1. Lena Clare

      I have a very unusual (and long) 1st and last name. Despite the fact that my email address is first name dot last name, people write the shortened form of my name – even in an email chain where others have called me the correct name.

      It’s so rude! Like, you can’t be bothered typing out an extra 4 letters?!

      Also, related but not to email, I frequently have to phone 1 colleague who **always** mispronounces my name. I say “hi it’s Rejeena” and she’ll say “hi Rejina!” So annoying. Lol.

      1. sometimeswhy

        I have an easily misspelled name that people’s brains seize up on. Like in the middle of me spelling it letter by letter out loud so they can write it down their whole left hemisphere just INSISTS on applying order to it and derails their fingers. It’s simultaneously irritating and amusing.

        I tend to be a little more lenient with my irritation when I know or suspect someone responded on mobile since there are at least three different autocorrections that different devices and OSs will cough up depending on the phase of the moon.

        1. Lena Clare

          Oh yes predictive text is a curse sometimes!
          My name once auto corrected to “Whatever”, in an email to my boss written on my mobile.
          So…”here’s that info you wanted. Whatever”

          I didn’t notice it till the next day, yikes, when I had to go and apologise profusely.

    2. SDSmith82

      The name misspelling is one of my biggest pet peeves. It’s spelled all the way out in my email, and yet, people take it upon themselves to misspell it ALL THE TIME.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

        It makes me roll my eyes every time. My name is Michele, with one L, and if I had a dollar for every time someone spelled it with 2 Ls when it’s right in front of their face, I could pay off the national debt.

      2. kitryan

        Yep, my name’s all over my emails, I’ve been here for nearly 6 years, it’s spelled w/an ‘a’ not an ‘e’.

      3. OtterB

        For a while I had a friend that I often carpooled with to a weekly hobby thing and a frequent work collaborator whose names were pronounced the same but spelled differently. Usually I would manage to address the correct one as Sara/Sarah but sometimes if I’d been having an extended email discussion with one, I’d continue typing the name that way when I addressed the other. Then I’d be apologetic when I noticed it later.

      4. BRR

        I can tolerate every now and then (my name is a slightly different spelling than the norm) but I had a coworker who did it every.single.email. And they were almost all replies to corrections I was having to point out to her because her data entry was incredibly sloppy and it was severely impacting a ton of things (their manager sucked).

      5. Errol

        I have a name that’s got a similar male name (think Robert / Roberta) and I always get multiple people who assume I’m obviously a guy who goes by Bob not a woman, probably as I work in a male dominated position. It drives me bonkers and they always get so snotty when I try and correct them. “Hey, it’s actually Roberta. I’m a woman, not a Bob”. Or I get Roberto, but I just roll with that one because close enough.

        1. Al who is that Al

          Having a Scottish mum she named me Alistair. When we moved to Scotland the place was full of ’em ! And there are many spellings, but still it IS in my email address and at work I’m Alistair, so go on, have a go, type whats in front of you….

    3. a

      >putting the whole message in the subject line

      I work with someone who will put the topic in the subject line and then something vague like “What do I do about this?” in the body, leading to many times I’ve almost written back “What the hell are you talking about?”

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        I have my own domain, with a friend who also has their own domain. We can do conversations by putting the entire conversation in the email address!

        To: HeyWhatsUp.AreYouBusyFriday @ TheirDomain.com

    4. Environmental Compliance

      I have a coworker that I’m already at BEC stage with that likes to respond all to group update-type emails with “gotcha”….several days after the email was sent. It irrationally annoys the hell out of me. The email doesn’t even require a response, it’s literally a “we made 934893 widgets today out of our goal of 1000000” type of update.

      1. Jerk Store

        I had a coworker had a habit of providing unsolicited, purposely loaded verbal commentary on every email that she received. I’d be sitting there working, and hear her say out of nowhere in the next cubicle, “I see the Chicago office is having an eventful day.” “Well, I guess we’re not taking an early lunch today.” It was the work version of vague-booking and it was so annoying.

    5. Sara

      I’m a real Sara and I feel this pain so much. mY signature, my emails EVERYTHIGN has Sara.

      I still get sarah. =(

      1. Sara

        Want to add — if I have a good relationship w/ the person or a bad one. I’ll respond back misspelling their name as well.

        “Thanks Jon/John, Carolyn/Caroline”

        1. Kendra

          I used to have a coworker named “Maizie,” and the usual misspelling people would do on her name was “Maize,” so we’d jokingly call her “Corn” whenever it happened in a group email (yes, we’re all huge nerds).

      2. LQ

        Yup. I try VERY hard to tell myself “This person likely has someone in their life that they love very much who looms much larger in their mind than me who is Sarah.” (Because even if it isn’t always true, and sometimes it is, it makes me not end up at BEC with them over it.)

      3. Auntie Social

        My name is Gala—I get Gail, Gayle, and even Gloria. I even say “Gala—like a party!” Still spelled wrong.
        Once I was at a large firm and a package addressed to “a**hole” was delivered to my boss. He was mad as anything. I took the package and said I’d take it to the front desk to find out who it belonged to. “No, it’s mine. . . .”

        1. Not So NewReader

          wth???
          I hope you called the sender, or better yet your boss called the sender.

    6. Peachywithasideofkeen

      Number 2 is my pet peeve. I work on two teams and one team is full of reply all-ers. One day our manager sent out a congrats email about one of the team members achieving a goal. Not only did everyone reply all “congrats/way to go/great job/etc.” but the member it was about reply all-ed EVERY TIME to say “Thanks.” I nearly died that day.

      1. bleh

        They do it *on purpose* to show how collegial they are to others. The point is never to actually congratulate. Bonus points if they undercut your achievement in their “congrats” message in some way. I’m looking at you former colleagues.

  10. RandomU...

    I kind of miss a good old fashioned “Reply All” party.

    They just don’t happen anymore. That used to be quite entertaining.

    1. Zona the Great

      I live for those days when they happen in my very large state agency. It’s pure gold.

  11. SDSmith82

    My biggest pet peeve is the whole “no rush” thing and then follow up emails within 1 hour. No rush implies I can deal with it within the business day not within an hour.

    Tied with that is when I tell someone that I’m not the contact, loop in the correct contact and then no one takes me off the chain so I keep getting the emails for the next 6 months.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

      Not to mention, sending an email instead of making a phone call or stopping by personally generally means it’s not urgent and can wait. It’s obnoxious.

    2. Amethystmoon

      I had a co-worker who would send e-mails and expect a response within 15 minutes later. It was very irritating. Plus, they were always regarding non-urgent things or questions that he could have looked up in the documentation.

    3. Receptionist/Rocket Scientist

      In my office of about 100 people, “no rush” means “reply within 15 minutes.”

      “As soon as possible” = “911, I need an instant reply to this email. I should have picked up the phone and called you like a normal goddamn person, but instead I sent an email to your incredibly clogged inbox.”

      I hate our email culture so much.

  12. Pam

    My pet peeve is the person who gets my emailed question about a policy and gets on the phone to answer it. I wanted it in writing, for later reference- that’s why I wrote it!

    1. Environmental Compliance

      That’s when I send an email back with a summary of the answer and ask to make sure my understanding is correct after the phone conversation.

    2. kitryan

      Yeah, my boss’s only criticism of my work has been that I should have more conversations in person or by phone instead of email. However, my job is basically 1) receive and review form for order 2) ask questions of submitter and others to make form be correct 3) PDF all documentation of decisions/approvals to create packet for the order, including a corrected form 4) put order in system. Thus, if we do not do all of the stuff via email, I have to send these emails that say, ‘as we discussed, you approve x, y, and z on this order’ so that I have documentation for the packet. So instead of just emailing and receiving an answer, I have to track the person down, ask them the questions, and write up the answers and send them and my team the email, so the get the email anyway, they just also got to talk to me? Which I think is a fun experience, but I’m not sure everyone else thinks so, no matter how pleasant I am.

  13. NicoleK

    My BEC coworker is the queen of terrible email etiquette:

    1. Her subject lines can contain anywhere between 6-40 words
    2. She is a chronic abuser of reply all
    3. She copies people on emails unnecessarily
    4. She send long rambling nonsensical emails. You still don’t understand what she needs after reading her email
    5. She’ll email you, then run up to your desk and ask if you’ve received it
    6. She thank you in person, then email you to thank you
    7. She sends your welcome email
    8. She’ll ask you to send her back emails that she originated because she is tech challenge and can’t locate things
    9. She’ll start 2-3 email chains about the same issue

    1. Kelly L.

      OMG, the running up to your desk.

      “…I just sent an email…” OMG WAIT FOR IT TO ARRIVE AND FOR ME TO READ IT OMG

      1. RandomU...

        This happens a lot in my office, although it’s usually in IM or text.

        Honestly it’s the only way sometimes to make sure an important email gets noticed right away. Although it’s usually a heads up “Hey. Incoming email Urgent/Critical about the PaperClip order!”

        Or it’s used as a heads up with backstory. “So.. I just copied you on an email that you haven’t had a chance to read yet. Don’t worry about most of it. I just need you to respond to Y question with that information you gave me last week. I’ll take care of the rest”

        1. Kelly L.

          Yeah, I especially do it with Sensitive Backstory That Should Not Be Written Down. Because if I don’t, some doofus in my department will forward that on to exactly the wrong person. But when it’s just “Hi did you read my email???”…yeah.

      2. ceiswyn

        One of my ex-bosses used to do this.

        He would send me an email, then walk across to me to repeat exactly the same question. Often multiple times, with unnecessary explanations. Frequently interrupting me in the middle of writing the answer.

        How he did not end up under my back patio I still don’t know.

    2. NicoleK

      10. I forgot one. She also loves to use Gentle Reminder, Gentle FYI, Gentle FYI Reminder

  14. NicoleK

    Oh it’s worse. Sometimes, she’ll email. Run to your desk. And want a response or action taken on it. Right then and there.

    1. LuJessMin

      I had a coworker that did that – send an email THEN call to ask if I had seen the email. Grrr…

      I don’t miss the corporate world at all.

  15. Res Admin

    And all of this is why my boss gets bullet point emails.

    Asking her to read paragraphs is pointless–won’t happen.

    And it is more important to have the time sensitivity listed in the subject line than anything else…otherwise it may take weeks to read it.

  16. MOAS

    This is a huge pet peeve for me.

    I or my team member send out an email daily to other staffers that task A was given to them that day. It’s a short, 3-5 line email that clearly states why task A was given to them and that it is temporary.

    In the end, we put in very clear, bold letters –

    If this is a time conflict work with your team. [it is standard and expected that team members will assist with task A]

    Managers, please ensure that your staff member is working today and that task A is handled. [I am a manager so I have equal footing to say this to them].

    what happens?

    “You keep putting “task A” on me and I cant do it!”

    “joe was out so A wasn’t taken care of.”

    blink.

    As a fully grown working adult, it’s your responsibility to read emails sent to you during your working hours.

    1. Not So NewReader

      I can see the wheels falling off at, “If there is a time conflict work with your team.” This can lead to everyone thinking that someone else is taking care of Task A. I never had much luck with this, I end up attaching a name to the task and it is up to that person to either do it or get someone to do it. If the task is not done, then that person needs to let me know it’s not done. Someone has to follow the task on its trail, I think, or people just tend to drop the task off somewhere.

  17. Kendra

    One of my coworkers hits the “High Importance” button on every. single. email. she sends. Along with consistently cc’ing 5-10 people who don’t need to be involved, it’s enough to make me want to scream every time I see her name in my inbox.

    1. BRR

      I had a coworker who did the high importance thing and I asked once asked why it was high importance to make sure I wasn’t missing something. Their response was that that was their default importance level. To their credit they turned it off after but ugh. It reminded me of Michael Scott adding 911 to all of his pages.

    2. Catsaber

      I worked with someone like that, who did “high importance” and also read receipts. Now before people go on a tirade about read receipts – like all other email functions, they have their uses when used APPROPRIATELY. This person did not. So EVERYTHING she sent out was “high importance” and she wanted to make sure you read her “thanks!” emails.

      I think maybe she had been burned one too many times by people claiming they never got emails from her.

      1. Kendra

        Oh, yeah, we used to have one of those, too, but she’s retired now. To be fair to her, she was our grant writer, a lot of her stuff was very time-sensitive, and she was usually juggling 5-6 major projects at any given time, so she did legitimately need to know who’d seen her messages and who she needed to follow up with a different way, but still. I can’t imagine how annoying it was to have to wade through all of those read receipts!

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Many years ago, I had one client who marked every.single.voicemail with “urgent” status.

      He knew darn well that it was just me and only me that would ever check those messages, that I always got back usually within 30 minutes, since it only went to voicemail if I was on the other line, then I’d hangup and check to see if anyone had called while I was on the line. But nope. Always urgent.

      It was never urgent. Ever. It was always for a quote. That he could have also emailed and got just as fast of a turnaround for. He was a one-person online retailer for our items. So he knew how to use email and how things worked but nope, he just was so high strung it had to be urgent and he always talked super fast and breathlessly dramatic.

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people

      I have one of those too ! I am pretty sure that she feels that anything important enough to send using an Expensive Piece of Fancy Equipment like a computer is automatically of high importance. (She also is somewhat fuzzy on the nuances of scanning something and emailing it versus faxing it and calls her scanned attachments “faxes”, so I suspect that she’s generally not really a tech person.)

      I also have a different co-worker who physically stops by my desk and expects me to stop whatever I’m doing, including scheduled one-on-one meetings with other people, to deal with whatever she needs. I am choosing not to train that second person in how to mark email importance settings.

      I think some people are just not good at figuring out the overall shape of a day/week/month/job description, and whatever they are working on at the moment is of High Importance or else they wouldn’t be working on it…

  18. MOAS

    On a lighter note about emails….embarrassing typos!

    Subject line: feeling sick. Except instead of sick it was… well you know how the S and D are next to each other on a keyboard?..yeah.

    Subject line: clock in problems
    Missed the L.

    1. Ali G

      ok those are funny!
      I once was sending a follow up email to a rather high ranking employee of an outside company. Instead of writing out “Following Up on X”, I wrote FU on X.
      It did not occur to me until I saw the subject line in my own email box (he replied right away – ha!) that I basically said F You to this person.

      1. AGirlHasNoScreenName

        F *slash* U. F/U. “Follow-up” gets used a lot at my job, and that’s how we deal with the abbreviation.

        1. Zephy

          At OldJob I would have to enter followup notes detailing phone conversations in client records. The keyboard shortcut to mark the note type as FOLLOWUP was to type “FU” in that box. It made me chuckle every time, especially if the client had been unpleasant during our conversation.

    2. But you don’t have an accent...

      The nicest person I’ve ever met missed the ‘o’ in the word “count” once to a client group of all women.

      He didn’t notice until I pointed it out and he immediately apologized to them. Luckily they also thought it was the funniest typo ever.

    3. jDC

      I told someone “I will drop shit that to you”. Luckily we communicated constantly and pretty casually so she laughed. She actually called me laughing and I hadn’t even noticed yet.

    4. Minty

      I used to work in a hospital. The head of HR accidentally missed the ‘f’ out of an email entitled ‘Tonight’s shift’ in an email to the senior directors and CEO. I enjoyed that one!

  19. Kendra

    I’m the default email recipient for our local government website. We have it set up that way because on our old site, messages would be sent by citizens to various other department heads who would then claim they’d never gotten them, or who’d be out on vacation (or had left for another job) and their subordinates weren’t checking their email. Now, any messages that get sent to the site’s contact form also get copied over to me, and if necessary I can route them to somebody else to take care of them.

    When they’re responding, all of my coworkers (except one; he’s my favorite) just hit the Reply button, and then their return emails come back to me, instead of going to the person who sent the message through the site in the first place. This is just mildly annoying when it’s, say, someone inquiring about the zoning for a particular piece of land, but a few times it’s been something sent by our police department or magistrate court that I’ve felt pretty uncomfortable knowing about. (It’s all been public record stuff, so it’s not illegal or even necessarily unethical for them to send it to me, but that doesn’t mean I want to know!) I wish people – especially ones sending sensitive information! – would pay more attention to where their emails are going.

    1. Asenath

      In Outlook, you can direct replies to a certain email. So when Sarah sends me an email and asks me to forward it to Group B, and have them respond to her, I finally used that option. I still sometimes get the responses, in spite of Outlook settings, and the first sentence of my email reading “Please read the question below and RESPOND TO SARAH”

    1. Kendra

      We’ve actually skirted some legal trouble because of that stupid button. It turns out, the way our state’s Open Meeting Law is written, if anyone sends a message whose recipients include at least a quorum of our town council (4 out of 7), and anyone hits the “Reply All” button, they’re suddenly holding an un-advertised Council meeting, which is a pretty major no-no. We’ve all learned to love the bcc function, and every new councilmember has it drilled into them that they should never hit Reply-All on anything, ever.

    2. Myfawny Thomas

      In my office, I have to send out several weekly reports to groups of about 50 people. Every single one of them hits reply-all to tell me “thanks for the update!” It makes me want to scream.

      For a while, I didn’t hit reply-all to say thank you to people – I just thanked the sender of Useful Stuff personally when it seemed appropriate to me. My boss actually had a chat with me where she expressed concern that I wasn’t thanking my team members. She asked me to start hitting reply-all when I sent out “thanks for letting me know!” emails. I cringe every time.

  20. Amethystmoon

    Lately at work there have been certain people at another division who, instead of reading what we send them, send 4-5 e-mails all asking about the same thing. No, sending multiple e-mails about the same issue is not going to get it resolved any faster, it will just create confusion. Also, it doesn’t help that they ask multiple questions about different subjects in a single e-mail and use incorrect terminology.

  21. SaltyPicasso

    I had a job once where I was also the IT person, and my coworkers would come to me with their computer and printer problems.
    My boss would regularly huff in to my office and complain that her printer wasn’t working. So I would go and fix her printer, and then she would print out an email that I’d sent her and come to my office to talk to me about it.
    If only there was an easier way that you could reply to an email…

    1. Kendra

      Ah, yes, the boss who prints out all of their email; I definitely don’t miss that!

      1. Pippa

        I had an elderly colleague who printed *and filed* all of his emails. His small office had several large filing cabinets full of, apparently, every email he’d ever received.

    2. The Other Dawn

      Yup, I had one of these, too. It was the EVP and he would print out the email I sent him and bring it to me, put it on my desk and say, “I got your email. The answer is XYZ.” Me, “OK, thanks. Could you reply to the email saying that? I need a paper trail.” Compliance and all that…

  22. LQ

    I have someone who insists on changing every single subject line to include what is the point of the email and a little bit it’s nice to get the whole thing in the subject, but mostly I hate it because when I’m getting 15 emails a day from her I really REALLY want it to be threaded since it is all one actual thread and please stop making it so you get your own new fancy line instead of being threaded with everything else. Plus so much harder to find the reply that then didn’t get a reply all that should have or that someone responded to the wrong last email in the chain, etc.

    But I can’t tell if this is really horrible practice, a horrible process (10000% true), or a horrible emailer problem or which combo of the above.

    1. Zephy

      If your problem emailer is doing this of her own accord and this isn’t how your organization (or her organization) actually expects one to use the subject line, then I think she’s the problem. I guarantee you she doesn’t realize what she’s doing when she changes the subject line and thus breaks your conversation into 15 different threads, but I further guarantee you that no one will ever be able to explain it to her in a way that will stick, nor will she ever care.

  23. a

    People who e-mail on Saturday, and then Monday morning at 8:15 a.m. follow up with “I still have not received a response to my query.” There is NO faster way to make me want to take my sweet time…

    1. jDC

      How about emailing you then texting you two seconds later to tell you they emailed you then calling you. I once was in the restroom and flat out told my boss to leave me alone when he did this. God forbid I was doing something else for two seconds.

    2. TechWorker

      The same with time zones. We’re in Europe and lots of the people we interact with are such that there’s little overlap with our working day. We’ll get one email at say 1am our time, and then a follow up being. ‘Can someone look at this asap!!’ at ~9am when we’re just getting into the office. We‘re not in an industry where out of response is expected for their type of query. CALM DOWN GUYS.

  24. Asenath

    I like generic email boxes – like office at work.com because you don’t waste time trying to find the email address of the unknown current incumbent of the position when the last one leaves, and, in my case, because part of my job is shared with another person and it’s really convenient having all the related correspondence in one place when the inevitable questions arise over what was done when. I have gotten complaints because “we don’t know who is emailing us, if it’s you or Aramanth, because you use the same email address.” Um, we actually sign all our emails (unlike some people here who use joint email addresses). Right at the bottom see, in the official sig format required by our employer? Of course, some people still confuse our names anyway since they start with the same letter. Alas, our parents didn’t think of that problem when choosing our names!

    1. Jessen

      Oh we had such a problem with those though at my last job. See, people would get a message from the generic inbox and then reply directly to the person who emailed them instead of the generic inbox. Only we handled a lot of time sensitive tasks. There was someone watching the generic inbox at all times, but (obviously) people’s personal boxes were only monitored when that person was working. So we’d end up with furious replies from people who’d needed something within the hour and had emailed someone who wasn’t working right then.

      1. Asenath

        As in “No, I can’t help you with X which you sent to Co-worker’s personal email address. If you’d sent it to the generic email address, I would of course have addressed it.” Been there, done that.

        I got really rigid about refusing to answer emails sent to my personal email address – bouncing them with notices like “please re-send to office at work.com” and always forwarding any such email so I never ever responded from my personal email. A lot of people didn’t bother doing that, but then a lot of people weren’t as annoyed as I was about having related documentation scattered over two (or more!) email accounts.

      2. Amethystmoon

        Yeah, I’ve had that as well. Even if you try and train people to respond to the generic inbox, they don’t. Also I would tell them if they need something urgently to text me or call me because e-mails can get stuck in the servers here, and they would still e-mail but I might not get the e-mail until a couple of hours later.

  25. Mimi B

    So the “Reply All” And “never reading emails” phenomenon is across the board, and not just my company. I feel a bit better.

    Only a bit.

    1. jDC

      And my old boss who claimed to never be able to find emails so made you resend them, and had clients do so, every single time. I’d go to his computer and easily pull the email up every time he just didn’t want to look.

  26. Paralegal Part Deux

    My biggest annoyance with emails is asking “do you want me to do x or y” and getting “yes” back.

  27. The New Wanderer

    I work for a big company and I have a very common name (first and last). I get many an email meant for someone else, either with the same name or the sender used auto fill and got me by accident. Not a big deal usually, but it’s annoying to figure out if I’m the real recipient or not, and I dread that feeling of why do I have no clue what’s being discussed??

    1. Really anon for this one...

      I’ve gotten emails (and phone calls) intended for our owner/CEO, including company financials and a co-worker calling to announce his resignation. That person is still working with me years later so the boss must have said and done the right things.

      He goes by an abbreviated version of our first name while I go by the full version at work. Love that ‘any letter’ sorts before a space for autofill….

      My favorite was an audiophile site trying to sell $5000 a unit speaker cable connectors…

    2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people

      I have this issue too. My first name isn’t particularly common, but my last name is, and there are lots of names kind of similar to my first name.

      Imagine that I’m “Joan Smith”, so I routinely get emails for “Joann Smith” and “Jane Smith” (and they get mine). (The format for emails at my job is x number of letters from your last name + first initial, add more letters as needed to get something not taken yet, so I have the equivalent of smithjo@job, and get emails intended for smithj@ and smithjoa@ if people are guessing emails based on names rather than using the directory as well as the people who just pick the wrong J. Smith from the list.)

  28. Fluff

    A while back there was this “email charter” that gave me these gifts. I highly recommend them (sorry for repeat if this was already up there in comments).

    NNTR in subject line = no need to reply
    EOM in subject line = end of message (if your message is short and can be stuck in the subject line). I think my boss loves me only because of these. :-)
    “Subject: tea meeting tonight – yes, I’m coming EOM NNTR”

    And if I send to a group, I use BCC with a comment “Blind copy to the group to avoid the email rabbit-reproduction. Please reply to me, Thanks.”

    I actually have these as part of my signature.

    Fluff, director of Tea Pot steam
    Consider these email gifts:
    NNTR = no need to reply
    EOM = end of message
    (and maybe a blurb about work cup because my job is ok with that and it has just been awesome)

  29. TechWorker

    The list of annoying things missed my biggest gripe – the people who don’t bother to check whether there’s another reply on the email (have they heard of threading?! Outlook always warns me if the one I’m replying to isn’t the last) and so split the thread into two or more chains of discussion.

    There’s one very senior guy where I work who regularly does this and sometimes replies multiple times to different bits of the same chain. He’s in so much of a hurry that he’ll shoot off a response to something downthread – that already has an answer later on – then reply at random to later ones too. It’s like he’s not able to summarise his own thoughts meaning every time I reply I have to be like ‘so, adding back in all responses and summarising the thread…’

    He also did this once on a thread where he sent two emails ~1 minute apart. The first was a response to something early on and was along the lines of ‘what the hell is this?! This is definitely wrong!’ And the second was in response to a later mail where another senior ish person had asked more questions then accepted the answers. That one said ‘sounds great, good work everybody!’ ….. I was glad they were sent in that order :D

  30. AnonymousArts

    I work at a place where about 60 people will be emailed to ask who owns what charges on a company credit card. The last time, the person said they were only looking for one charge for a fancy hotel in town.

    Someone replied all (which included the VP) saying, “If I could have an affair, that’s where I would go, but I’m too tired to have an affair.”

  31. sum of two normal distributions

    I know this is for how people can be annoying with email but the opposite is true for my coworker. Nothing can be an email with her – we always have to meet in person or a call. It drives me insane as she is long-winded and a one line email will turn into a 45 minute discussion where she repeats herself over and over even after it’s clear; she always sprinkles in a few complaints and unneeded color commentary as well.

    However, when she does send an email, she is the classic “Hey, just sent you an email! Let’s discuss it in person now.” Why send the email then!

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