Emails. We’ve had them for 36 years, but we’re basically no closer to deciphering the etiquette of sending them.
A quick straw poll on Twitter confirms what I’ve suspected all along – that NOBODY KNOWS THE RULES. Every day, electronically, we are sending each other more mixed messages than a carrier pigeon stew. Are you a ‘best’ person? A ‘many thanks’? Some consider an email without a greeting the ultimate rudeness, others mean it as a cheery informality; one person’s jovial intro is another person’s slap in the face.
Some sign-offs leave us wondering what we did wrong, others with a creepy feeling that we can’t quite put our finger on. Or as journalist Nell Frizzell puts it, ‘Being wished “warm regards”, feels like somebody’s shaking my hand, looking me right in the eye, and gently pissing down my leg.’
Meanwhile Debrett’s, purveyors of archaic nonsense since 1769, this week released their official statement on blind cc’ing: ‘blind copying should be used discerningly as it is deceptive to the primary recipient,’ they warn. ‘Instead, the email should be forwarded on to the third party, with a short note explaining any confidentiality, after its distribution’. Better yet, have your butler source a suitable gif.
So in an attempt to pool this knowledge and keep us all high and dry, here is my definitive guide to emailing like a total douchebag.
1. Reply all
Hey, sometimes it’s hard to know who an email needs to go to. Leaving people out just because a conversation isn’t actually relevant to them could look like low-level cyber bullying. They might enjoy your joke about Jan from HR’s holiday chocolates, why deny them? And if you don’t CC in everybody when you reply to say ‘Ok will do!’ or ‘Cheers, Bob’ then people might not know you ever said it, and how rude would that look?
If a tree falls in the forest and doesn’t land in everybody’s inbox, will it ever get promoted? Just something to think about.
2. Choose a zany subject line
Inboxes are dry, dark places, like the underside of a toaster, so try to bring a little joy to people’s inbox with hilarious subject lines, CAPS and **lots** of punctuation!!!!1!
Try using obscure subject lines that give no clue as to their contents (choose from a list of Captain Beefheart song titles if you need inspiration) – they’ll be driven mad with gleeful curiosity and definitely, definitely read your email. Or for advanced level douchebaggery, add a ‘Re:’ to the front of your subject. This cleverly tricks the reader into thinking it relates to a conversation they may already be involved with, and makes them all the more likely to respond warmly and with enthusiasm. Genius!
3. Mark it ‘high priority’
It’s well known these days that if an email isn’t marked ‘high priority’, it simply vaporises into the ether somewhere between your server and their inbox. If it’s not marked with a little red exclamation mark, how will they ever know to prioritise your press release over making toast and playing Candy Crush in the loo?
Besides, people love a sense of urgency. It helps them pretend they’re a neurosurgeon or bomb disposal expert with the FBI, rather than running a quantity surveyors in Cheam.
4. Get their name wrong
The ease of this step will depend on the fanciness of the recipient’s name – so get creative! ‘Lauren’ turns easily into ‘Laura’, but could also become ‘Lorraine’, ‘Lana’ or ‘Nathaniel’ with the right sloppy fingerwork. If you’re struggling with this, try using their surname as a first name or calling them after your guinea pig instead.
Alternatively, use their real name but don’t put ‘Hi’ or any other greeting in front of it. Just ‘Lauren,’ then straight into your message. It should look nice and stern, as though you’re about to scold them for eating all the teacakes or putting an old tissue through the wash.
5. Be super friendly
Sure, you’ve actually never met them, but you’re LinkedIn buddies now and that assumes a certain level of intimacy. Try asking them how their weekend was, and commiserating with them on the fact it is Monday/ wishing them a happy Friday. Everyone hates Monday and loves Fridays, so you will instantly have something in common.
6. Just use one word, and no punctuation – it’ll make you look warm and informal
7. Sign off like a pro
This means using a combination of dusty, formal words never otherwise found together, like ‘All warm’, ‘Very regards’ or ‘Thankest Me’. This is an excellent way to unsettle people at the end of an otherwise casual email.
To indicate that you are very busy and important as well as unfalteringly polite, it is a good idea to abbreviate your sign-off. Try ‘rgds’, ‘thx’ or the ever-enigmatic ‘p’.
8. Pucker up
You may use your discretion where kisses are concerned, as long as you follow this one basic rule: whatever your correspondent has done, do the opposite. If they have used a kiss, do not use a kiss. If they have not used a kiss, use three. If they have used two kisses, send a hamper of fine cheeses to their desk.
You are now ready to email like a douchebag! Happy correspondence. If you have enjoyed this tutorial, please see our advanced level course: How to follow-up on emails like a moron. Thx.
Main image: Pixabay
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