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Babe, those exclamation marks in emails don’t pass the vibe check!

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Editor’s Note: ‘Happy Hour’ is an HR Dive column from Reporter Ginger Christ. Follow along as she dives into some of the offbeat news in the HR space.

I’m as guilty as anyone in filling my emails with a few too many exclamation marks.

However, lucky for me, a recent survey by EmailTooltester found overuse of exclamation marks is only the fifth most annoying thing people can do in emails. Office workers were more annoyed by misspelled names, emojis, pet names (like “babe” or “doll”) and memes. 

While griping about email etiquette missteps, however, workers also admitted to being offenders. Twenty-four percent of those surveyed said having their name misspelled is annoying, yet 15% said they’ve regularly mangled someone’s name in the past year. Similarly, 22% of workers found including smiley faces or emojis in emails to be a faux pas, but 29% said they had done so throughout the past 12 months, per the survey.

I wanted to see how the survey results stacked up against what our readers think, so I posed the question to my circles on social media. It’s fair to say people had a lot of complaints. When workers spend roughly 15% of their time handling emails, as Microsoft estimated in its 2023 annual report on work trends, there’s bound to be some aggravation. 

Workers complained about marking all emails as urgent, requesting read receipts (I fully support outlawing this), ranting, not including links or attachments when needed and the dreaded reply all. 

Others raised issue with those who expect immediate replies, not acknowledging that everyone doesn’t work 9-5 hours; copying someone’s boss, typing in all caps, using unconventional fonts and colors and being overly familiar or using nicknames. 

Some disliked typos or other misspelled words and inarticulate language. 

It’s a little unnerving thinking every time I hit send after a potentially overly-friendly “Hey, XX!” introduction, I might be causing someone’s eyebrows to furrow in distaste. But I’m (not really) sorry, my exclamation marks and I aren’t going anywhere. 

XOXO!

Ginger



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