Whilst stressful situations and group projects reveal a great deal about your colleagues’ personalities, so too can their typical email reply. Are they the first to respond no matter what time of day or night? Do they favour a quick comeback, with little more than the subject line unless absolutely necessary? Do they use emojis as though they’re texting a friend, abuse the urgent button or never seem to respond to the latest thread? Email response habits can be revealing. Here are a few email personality types you may have encountered in your office.
The leave no one behind ambassador
Why send an email to one person when you can include the whole office (whether the subject matter requires it or not)? This individual feels strongly about the old adage “the more, the merrier,” perhaps taking it a little too literally. Everyone is copied into this person’s messages, which means that more often than not, you’re stuck skimming the email looking for your name or content that’s relevant to you and your job.
Remember: email is not a group chat or popularity contest and there are much better ways to ensure everyone feels included in moments of critical decision-making.
The social butterfly
A bit like the leave no one behind ambassador, the social butterfly likes to keep everyone updated with their comings and goings and personal preferences. Their “I’m out at a dentist appointment this afternoon” update or their “I’ll take the chicken sandwich for our working lunch” email might be relevant to a specific individual or team, but copying in all staff – not necessary. Likewise, when it comes to wrangling the troops for Friday lunch or weekend drinks, best to keep it off company email.
The moody ex
When you can avoid emailing this person altogether, you do. Things may be civil in person, but email? Well… let’s just say it depends on the day. Sometimes you’re graced with a detailed response, other times an all caps subject line sets the tone for the rest of the email. You never quite know what mood this person will be in until you receive a reply and then, unfortunately, it may be a little too late.
The selective listener
You’ve taken the time to construct a well-thought out, painstakingly organised email with specific questions. The time devoted to its careful construction will undoubtedly be well received (perhaps even admired) and solicit an equally thorough response. Or so you thought.
The selective listener has other plans. She responds in her own time, answering the first of three questions only. Your plan to reduce the number of back and forth emails backfires as you find yourself writing again and again for answers you hoped to receive the first go round.
The aspiring author
Unlike the selective listener, the aspiring author l-o-v-e-s detail. So much so that you find yourself gearing up to read the novel, often employing a rewards based system – read email, eat cookie. The length could be overlooked if the email managed to stay on point but the aspiring author weaves in and out of important information, describing everything from his creative process to his latest vacation. Meanwhile, the information you actually need is peppered throughout the message, and the process of unearthing it all is a scavenger-hunt-style event that leaves you annoyed and exhausted. The cookie, thankfully, eases the pain.
The last word-er
You never have to wonder if the last word-er has received your email because she always replies. It doesn’t matter if you’ve already spoken in person about the email or if a response isn’t required – she will follow up and have the last word. Always. Whether it be a case of one-upmanship or overwhelming politeness (“Great!” “You’re welcome!”), on your end, it’s simple. Delete the email and move on.
Do you have a go-to way of responding to email? What does it reveal about your email personality?
Published - January 15, 2017