Posted by: kerrywills | June 25, 2010

E-mail etiquette

We are in a culture of heavy e-mail (see my posting on nobody calling). I get about 300 e-mails a day. I have several pet-peeves on what I believe to be poor e-mail etiquette. Here are some examples…

  • “Please find the attached document” – One of my favorites is when people write this on an e-mail about an attachment. It is like I am being invited to look for hidden treasure. I always want to reply by saying “I found it….now what”
  • Thanks – Gratitude is nice but I struggle with how far to take it. A message with nothing more than “thanks” gives me mixed feelings. While one should thank others, it also fills up people’s inbox. Also if I thank someone, do they need to say “you’re welcome?” And then do I have to reply “any time…” How far does it go?
  • Reply to All – Ah yes, the classic “reply to all” message. I love these especially when there are large distributions on copy. This is the person asking for a clarification or with a specific request to the sender but then clicks on “reply to all” so everyone on distribution sees it.
  • Telling People Not to “Reply To All” – Almost as good as the idiot who did “reply to all” are the dozens of people replying to everyone telling them not to reply to everyone. Doesn’t this make them just as guilty…or more guilty since they did it intentionally. And why, after the first one is sent, do others feel inclined to do it more? And where is the “unsubscribe” link so I can get off of this thread?
  • Writing paragraphs – I have absolutely no patience for messages which are several paragraphs deep. A lot of the time I check messages on Blackberry and to scroll through a large message is painful. It is also inefficient as, most times, the key message is buried somewhere within the text. If things need that much explaining, please set up a meeting.

Please find the attachment

I am sure that there are other examples of poor e-mail etiquette so please reply with them (or ask me to find them, I am getting good at that)….


  1. Kerry,

    How about the multiple “forward” emails, where Sally distributes a photo of her new puppy to people who don’t care, and after seven round of “reply to all”, you get an email with subject line of “Sally’s new puppy” while the content states “Kerry, please investigate and resolve” in the hope that you will decipher what the relevant topic and action items are.

    And you have to love the project managers (no us, of course) who send every email tagged as “high priority” with red flags. If every email is high priority, then none of them are.

  2. Yes…I also love the following:
    * Poor grammar / spelling to the point where you cant understand what they are saying

    * Attaching documents that I have to open up that could have been written in an email – I have a PM that attaches a Word doc of an agenda that all it says in the document is “status”…like you couldnt have just sent that in the email?

    * People copying everyone on something that they need not….why do you have to copy your manager and manager’s manager on everything?

    * Lets discuss calendar invites as well….what happened to the feature where you can tell when a person is blocked? I can understand if its a large group and it is the best time available. But, sometimes i have people schedule meetings 1 on 1 with me and pick a time that is blocked, when other times are open that we can both make.

    * On the converse, people NOT blocking their calendars when taking vacation. So I think I found a good spot…and then they decline and ask you to move the meeting for them….even though it STILL looks like an open time on their calendar!


  3. Hey Kerry,

    I read this the other day and was thinking to myself “I’ve never seen the please find the attached document” (I mean I only have been here for about 6 weeks though) and then I got one this morning and the first thing I though was “Found it!”

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