Monday, February 13, 2012

Rude emails - do you write them?

Emails are one of those things that sometimes just come across all wrong.

When I started work with my first law firm I was petrified of meeting some of the lawyers after I got emails from them.

At the time I was writing away with manners and kindness, as was the norm at my previous job where people made extra effort in any communication.

I was sending emails like this:

Dear Jane
I would love to arrange a time to meet with you to discuss how I can assist you with blah blah. I understand you are extremely busy with whodunit and was wondering if perhaps Tuesday would suit when your diary indicates you are free.
Kind regards

I would receive an email like this:


No hello, no regards. I thought they were all rather rude and scary.

Eight years later and my emails would now be like this:

Please let me know when you are free to discuss blah blah,

If I am on my phone and sending the email it would be:

let me now (sic) when your (sic) free

Which is really bad, because the person receiving it is probably still at their desk, reading normal emails on a big screen and getting my rude emails. Which of course I don't mean to be rude, but typing with one hand and trying to multitask means somethings gotta give, and sometimes it's email etiquette.

I have started wondering if I just fell into the email culture of the firm and expected the world to follow, but maybe they haven't. Maybe they see my emails as poor form.

So tell me, where is the world at with emails? Should we be making more effort, or should I be? Do you find abrupt emails rude?

Image from Pinterest


  1. I feel quite strongly about how e-mails are written because it is so difficult to get the 'tone of voice' across.

    I tend to write like you used to write - the same as if I was talking to someone and when I get a tersely worded or abrupt e-mail back, I often wonder if I have offended in some way and go back and re-read my mail to see what I said that could have brought on this reply. Sometimes it is just me being too sensitive - sometimes it is just how people reply to mails - not only my mail.

    It is so hard to convey emotion in an e-mail and that is something that I get a bit upset about - when someone sends me something in capitals -to me they are shouting at me - to others they have just left their caps lock key on - it is just how it is.

    I do think you pick up the culture of the bulk of e-mails that you receive so maybe it is a case of horses for courses - when typing internal e-mails it is OK to be short and to the point but to others maybe you need to fluff it out a little !

    Have a great week !

    1. I totally understand this, I used to feel very sensitive about the replies too and that is why I am re thinking the emails I will be sending...attempting to anyway.

      I agree too, emails outside need more fluff, which is really not so much fluff as good manners.

  2. interesting

    I used to be like you in the beginning but I have noticed how it has I am much more direct...I make sure the 'sent from phone' bit is at the bottom so people know I am out and about and to expect typos and a brief message etc

  3. I am a square. I still write proper-ish emails, as if they were letters. Same with text and Twitter - cannot abide being short/perceived as rude/abrupt/text speak. I am a Pollyanna.


  4. I'm not good at writing things I don't want or need to say, so I tend to be pretty blunt. I don't think anyone's taken offence - yet!

  5. Given that my job is Social Media, I should probably be paper-free and think in code, but a handwritten letter, card or postcard is still one of my favourite things to receive and I think I send all my e-mails like they are letters. I even punctuate texts correctly and only resort to abbreviating words when I'm over my Twitter character allowance.
    And I NEVER have any kind of disagreement over email or text. Always sounds much harsher than you mean it. If you wouldn't say it, don't send it.
    The only time I'm direct is when I receive a direct communication from someone else and it can be quite a relief to be brief - can see how the habit starts...

  6. I think it depends on who you're emailing. If it's a new contact, I would definitely err on the side of politeness. If it's a regular contact or friend, brief is OK.

    1. This is my thinking as well, Dorothy! First email a bit more polite and formal, brief is saved for friends and the 15th reply in a chain of emails back and forth!

  7. It really depends who I am emailing to be honest.

    If it is purely work business then I keep it formal and use correct grammar etc. If it is not work related I barely use capitals... I am lazy.

  8. I'm with Lucy....Pollyanna old school for me!

  9. I am still crazy polite, can't help myself. I'm okay with the terse response - but am still baffled by the no-response. How do you respond when you send an email but there's no response? It's weird - feels like calling someone on the phone and they pick up and don't speak...

  10. I use emails for work as little as possible. I think that if emails were invented before the telephone, we would all be going, WOW they invented something new where you can actually speak to the person without having to type another mail that will sit there screaming for attention. A phone -wow

  11. Replies
    1. What I meant to say is...

      Dear Clairey
      How was your weekend? Mine was all sunshine and housework!!

      I couldn't imagine intentionally sending a rude, abrupt sort of email. I am too much waffle and chit-chat. It probably drives my more succinct colleagues nuts, but there you go.

      Kind regards

  12. I too am of the Pollyanna ilk and was known in my workplace for my diplomatic emails. I have been on the end of many rather abrupt ones and didnt like how they read (or felt!) so always made an effort to not fall into the same mould.

    I can sympathise about the time poor issue and sadly when that happens I dont seem to respond in a timely manner - which is no doubt worse than a blunt reply :)

    1. and this is the dilemma, do I wait til I am home and write a decent reply, or just rush off the answer, bluntly. I guess it is a bit of both.

  13. It depends who the email is too, I have noticed myself getting lazy and abbreviating too much, so trying harder at that. I do prefer to talk to people on the phone even face to face works too :)

  14. Great discussion! I remember way, way back in the day at school,being taught how to write a letter - where to position the address of the addressee, when to end with ‘yours faithfully’ or "yours sincerely,etc. I agree with Jen R, that it does depend on who the email is addressed to, but certainly from business emails we should all give more care and attention to how we greet the recipients of our emails as well as considering other mistakes we may make with email etiquette.

  15. I really wish I could be quick with my emails and texts, but just can't help punctuating. I'm a sucker for correct spelling and grammar, and must admit to proof reading most before I send!!!
    I don't mind receiving a quick reply, but can't make myself do it.
    Maybe just a little bit obsessive?

  16. I get some pretty rude ones on esty like this:

    this? ( and then the link)

    and that is it!!


    I want (insert list of obscure tiny towns )

    thats it

    No please , no thank you no may I no could i?? Most people are very lovely but I am constantly amazed at how rude people can be- i feel like replying I am not a robot! Instead I reply in an overly polite way. I mean my name is at the top of the screen...

    Great post Claire.

  17. Ot all depends on the person I am emailing.
    Work ones I use a more formal tone, but even that depends on who I am emailing.

    The more I know a person, the blunter I am, I have been known to send friends emails like,
    yep that's good,
    me x

    I also try to reply in a tone similar to the one sent me. It's tricky though.. as is actually remembering to reply promptly at times!

  18. I always err on the side of politeness. It's easy to misread a tone in an email. I always say please and thank you, always Regards or Cheers.
    Call me old fashioned.

  19. I went from super friendly chatty Uni girl to mum & oil barroness in a heart beat - working with me, who didn't express milk in their lunch hours, i am so sure they thought i was a bimbo (blonde & big boobs didn't help, nor did the way i skipped around the fuel farm & work flippy dresses) & i'd send to the point, but friendly emails - Claire, sometimes they'd yell "NO" from their office, not evern a 'reply'. It was a bit crushing for 24 year old moi. I did learn, in a small office with men - we'd yell from office to office, often throw things (like promotional stock) & you KNEW when someone didn't win a tender or lost a contract (all millions of dollars).
    The lesson i learnt the hardest & fastest, was that big oil executives - you could do all the hard & they didn't say "thank you" they all said "Ok", sorry, i even told the MD that "Ok is not the same as thank you, i wouldn't accept it from my 2 year old" & he crumbled & said "thank you Jennie". Ha!! So most of my rude emails were actual face to face contronting one word answers in the flesh. In the end, i left 8 months pregnant with twins & NO ONE was going to argue with me, best way to bring out kindness - the potential to make the only girl in the office cry at any moment, or worse, give birth, i was finally treated like the Queen i should have been. Hmmm . . . good training for parenting 4 children, i don't take crap or short answers or mutters from them either, not even the high schooler!!
    Back to lawyers, if you are sending one word answers & billing in 6 minute increments, ONE WORD AWAY, i'm sure your clients don't mind at all!! Love Posie

  20. Ooppss, that first was meant to read "working with men" as i was very agreeable to work with, just as 'me'!! See being verbose has not served me well. I should add i married a soldier, he can not only answer in one word, but acronyms, even to me, i mean, who sends their wife a reply to 'can you pick up milk' with 'ack' meaning he acknowledges my request?? I mean, who, outside a war zone on an old radio set, communicates like that?? Love Posie

  21. I'm polite in an aggressove way, lol. If i'm communicating with some idiot who keeps asking the same questions then i'm direct and I re-state what I wrote in previous email:

    Dear Idiot

    As per my last two emails, yes you can attend...

    Smart Ass

    If it's someone of high rank, I'm polite.

    when I need to save my arse I email cos then I have records when idiots makr mistakes. Lol

  22. you worry way to much, blokes just like to the point, girls different story. Its just like when a review gets written thats 50 pages long and there is a summary, everyone reads the summary and moves on beacause their more interested in golf and football. Not boring work reviews.
    Little Bro

  23. No I don't find them that rude. I always try to at least address the recipient by name and sign off with regards from me. Call me a people pleaser, but I would not like to be thought of as rude.

  24. I still make the effort to write emails as I would a letter. I can't even bring myself to use txt language when sending a text message!

  25. Great post. Ask Kelly Exeter about this. She reckons we should all aim for one-word emails - and delete answers immediately. Makes sense. My inbox is a mess. Thanks for Rewinding.

  26. I think it just depends on the issue. I was a paralegal before I was a teacher, and the emails were hurried. Now that I'm a teacher and my emails entail communicating with parents about their children I take the time to be positive and polite.

  27. I try to write my emails like I would a letter, unless there is a email conversation taking place. And now that I have unlimited text messages, people usually get paragraphs from me instead of short succinct abbreviations.
    I'm trying to remember the last time I got a hand written letter, and can't. I have received lovely thank you cards from people in the mail, and that was lovely. Nice to receive something other then a bill in the post!

  28. That's funny, I did an online e-mail writing course as my writing was to blunt, now I have to find a balance between to little or to much information while being direct, it helped to get my point across. xxx


Commenting brings amazing luck, you must try it and see how you go!