27 Email Pet Peeves that Tick People Off as Much as Spam

As the founder of inboxFX, a leading email stationery service providers,

Junk Mail Concept by Agne Kveselyte
Junk Mail Concept by Agne Kveselyte

my life revolves around email. The good, inboxFX; the bad, junk mail and the ugly, spam.

I just read a great article about email Pet Peeves by Peggy Duncan, a personal productivity expert. Check out her book, Conquer Email Overload with Better Habits, Etiquette, and Outlook 2003 to develop skills that will help you manage email overload.

Before I share Peggy’s list I have a personal pet peeve and that is people who have to send that one last email after an email conversation is over.  Is it really necessary to say thank you a second time? In an effort to reduce the volume of distractions in a day I have started adding NNTR to the end of an email with the explanation beside it “No Need To Respond”.

I have edited some of these and added my comments in italics so for the complete list please visit Peggy’s website by clicking here.

  1. Sending or responding to all to CYA (cover your butt). Stop sending to all if all do not have a need to know.
  2. People trying to solve complex issues using email. If it needs more than 3 responses pick up the phone!
  3. Dirty (messy) email messages.  Peggy is referring to carets (>>>), or pages and pages of email addresses that weren’t protected using a blind copy feature. Is it too much to ask for the sender to clean dirty emails before sending it? Would you send a letter out on your company stationery like that?
  4. Subject lines that don’t match the message. Don’t pull up an old message, hit Reply, and send me a message that has nothing to do with the previous one. At the very least, change the subject line!
  5. Last-minute cancellations. Cancelling a meeting at the last minute and letting me know via email. I show up, “Oh, didn’t you get my e-mail?” When did you send it? I left my office two hours ago, and now my whole day is shot.
  6. Procrastinators. People who wait until the last minute to ask you to do something as if you had nothing else to do. You know the work was in a pile on their desk, and while they were digging for something else, they found it, and sent you an email message, marking it urgent. Then when the deadline isn’t met, it’s not their fault because they “gave it to you.”
  7. People who call you instead of checking their email. You’ve done your job, and sent an email message to people with information they need. They end up calling you asking for the info because, “I’m too busy to check email. Please always call me with the information or at least call me to let me know you sent it.”  Closely related to this one is people who’ll send you a message, then they call you or come by your desk asking if you received it!
  8. No response. You send a legitimate email message to someone who has requested information. The message clearly needs a response, but nothing happens. If you’re too busy to hit Reply to say “No,” you need to examine how you’re working. Why did you make me waste your time and mine?
  9. One-liners. “thanks,” “Oh, OK.” My goodness! You sent an email message to 25 people, and 15 of them sent you a one-liner. Next time, put “No Reply Necessary” at the top.
  10. Underlines. Don’t underline anything in a message (or on a Web page) that’s not a hyperlink. I always move the mouse toward it thinking it’ll take me somewhere.
  11. Someone replying to my message without the previous message below it or attached to it. I forgot what I asked them.
  12. Smileys, emoticons. If you wouldn’t put a smiley face or emoticon on your business correspondence, you shouldn’t put it in an email message.
  13. Plaxo. Those emails from you asking me to update my contact information.
  14. Senseless Autoresponders. How about the one that says “Thank you for your email message. I will respond to you as soon as I can.”
  15. Words from grown, business people using shortcuts such as “4 u” (instead of “for you”), “Gr8” (for great) in business-related email. Are you lazy, or just can’t type or spell?
  16. Read receipt. As if you’re checking up on me to see if I open your message. I don’t know why people waste time doing this because most people probably have this feature turned off in their email software.
  17. Too many attachments. You should get permission before sending someone an email message with more than two attachments. Instead of sending 5 PDFs, consider combining them into one document.
  18. Attachment and no body. If you send an email message about an event and no explanation in the body, especially if it’s a large file and would drain my ink supply if I printed it. If the details are in the body of the email, I don’t need the attachment. I don’t need to see how creative you were with your flyer. I just need the info.
  19. Abuse of my email address. I register for an event, then every week, I’m getting notices of deals, webinars, teleseminars, etc.
  20. Recipient names not private. No bcc and pages of email addresses in the message.
  21. Passing on hoaxes instead of checking them out first. Check it our first at http://www.sarc.com.
  22. Who are you? People I met briefly some time ago sending me an email message without reminding me who they are.
  23. Messages without signature lines. Your email signature is a great way to let people know more about you, especially when your email address is something like 189bx@xxx.com.
  24. Adding me to your email list. I just met you, barely remember you, and I’m already on your distribution list for your newsletter, thoughts for the day, and news you think I want to know.
  25. Bad grammar and punctuation. You can’t hide behind an administrative assistant to clean up your act, so go take some classes and learn how to write and spell. Some messages are so bad, it’s like reading a foreign language, and it wastes my time trying to figure out your mess.
  26. Work email abuse. People sending me non-work-related email from their job. I don’t want my name and email address showing up in company reports.
  27. Unprofessional email IDs. People who send a business email message using addresses such as cutesuzy@xx.com; beingblessed@xx.com; hardliquor@xx.com.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Ha ha 🙂 ;-).

    You have covered all but one of my biggest pet peeves in email correspondence. The reader reading into the “tone” of the email and coming to incorrect conclusions. (Include here the “I think that he/she is mad at me,” “Yikes, someone is having a bad day!” etc). If you are concerned that someone is hostile/upset in an email, I would pick up the phone or meet up with them in person rather than jumping to conclusions.


    PS – This is the first time I have ever written out “L8r” although I am guilty of a smiley face or wink from time to time.

  2. Sam Wise says:

    Some people write everything in the subject line. Are you kidding me???? This is the WORST thing anyone could do! Writing everything in the bloody subject line, leaving the body of the email blank! This not just irks and irritates me, but angers me beyond my limit! Those who don’t know how to email should bloody keep their thick heads out of it and stick to pen and paper. Shame on you!

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