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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

149

Close-Reading Your Boss' Brief Emails: A Guide for the Anxious

"What do you do / with a B.A. in English? / What is my life going to be?" -Avenue Q

Yay, thank you!

You are crushing it. Or your boss is 22 years old, but you're probably still crushing it.

Thank you!!

Your boss is very happy with you, but is also in a rush. When bosses are in a rush, they take the time to hit the exclamation mark at least twice. No one knows why. "Things are crazy!!!" "It's a circus here today!!!!!" "I'll be here until nine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Etc.

Thank you!

Business as usual. Well done.

Thanks!

Mildly-positive, but mainly neutral. You are unlikely to be fired in the next six months, but you're also not, like, a rainmaker, or anything.

Thanks.

You should stop reading this website at work. And start eating at your desk. And send three work-related emails a week from your phone prior to eight am or after seven pm.

Ok.

Buy a Suze Orman book, start figuring out how to roll your 401(k) into a Roth IRA.

Okay, thanks.

Can you break your lease? Most people do, it's not actually that big a deal.

Okay.

Roll your 401(k) into a Roth IRA. If that is not the kind of job you have, steal all the pens/ketchup packets. If THAT is not the kind of job you have, walk across the street to the unmarked car and tell the Feds you're interested in entering witness protection.



149 Comments / Post A Comment

cuminafterall

What if your boss writes emails in all caps and never includes a greeting or a sign-off? Or punctuation?

cuminafterall

@cuminafterall Just figured it out! He's a telegram!

fabel

@cuminafterall oh, god-- I had a boss once that did that. OKAY THANKS HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND I WONT BE IN TILL 10 ON MONDAY OK

whateverlolawants

@fabel I enjoy that style. It's so robotic, almost ironic.

City_Dater

@cuminafterall

He is well over 50 and never learned to type. There is a good chance someone prints out the emails for him to read before he sits down to ANSWER YOU WITH THE CAPS LOCK ON.

HeyThatsMyBike

@City_Dater @cuminafterall Wouldn't it be great if he were all,
"HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND STOP
WOULD LOVE TO HAVE THAT REPORT BY MONDAY STOP"

Some of the Emeritus Professors in my department would probably try to do this.

TARDIStime

@HeyThatsMyBike My New Years Resolution: invent the Tweetegram.

Quinn A@twitter

In my office, "thanks" or "thank you" just means that my boss is on his Blackberry instead of in the workplace.

I don't stress about the emails, though, because a) when he's irritated he will actually put "yes, I am pissed" right there in the email, b) I am apparently his favourite employee, and c) I work for the federal government and I have to be grossly negligent on purpose before they'll fire me. (I love that I can be grossly negligent, and if I can prove it was an accident, they'll just retrain me or something. I don't take advantage of it, obviously, but I love it)

[posted from work]

lagreen

@Quinn A@twitter Yay--a fellow fed on thehairpin! I think I'm my boss's favorite employee, but that's not saying much...

Blushingflwr

@Quinn A@twitter One of the higher-ups writes "thx" when she is on her iPhone (our company tends to give out iPhones, not blackberries)

ImASadGiraffe

@Quinn A@twitter @lagreen Fellow Fed here too...my boss is a crazy emailer. Our agency also uses Office Communicator and he creates these "mandatory" daily chats that we all have to join and he spits out stupid questions all day in it, like "How do you change the background in an email" or "Who volunteers to do [insert shitty task here]?"

Related, this job sucks.

mousie housie

@Quinn A@twitter ....aaaannd posts like yours are why unionized/government workers garner minimal sympathy from the public during budget cuts.

Quinn A@twitter

@mousie housie Ugh. Again, I don't take advantage of that particular clause in my contract. I don't know anyone who has taken advantage of it, or anyone who's even benefited from it. And I was clearly not being entirely serious in that post.

(Also, I only post from work when I am not flat-out busy and I work a fuckton of overtime. People who would make assumptions based on one internet post are probably jerks who wouldn't sympathize with union workers under any circumstances)

ImASadGiraffe

@Quinn A@twitter @mousie housie Yeah I also work overtime, a lot of federal holidays, and my salary is less than I make in the private sector for my industry and level of education. I'm glad I can't get fired, but I'm also thankful for any job in this economy.

E
E

@mousie housie as an employee in local government, I think the benefits we have, such as a due process that gives benefit of the doubt to an employee prior to firing them are good things. I think it should be hard for most employers to fire people! Most civil servants had to pass a test, get interviewed, and be on a probation period before being hired. Thats a much more fair system to find meritous employees than "we hired this guy because he knew someone" and for every horrible person that the strict rules about firing someone protect, there's probably at least two other people who got to keep their job even though they have cancer or a baby or took the blame for a mistake made by their boss.

People sure as heck love to think government workers are entitled. But we're actually American workers just like you, and when we say we're thankful to have protections at our job that give us a safety net to do our work in, we aren't mocking people who don't or being entitled. And we're not a monolith of smugness.

A lot of us lost our jobs in this recession, or took pay cuts voluntarily, went on furlough, or because we had hiring freezes did the work of 3 people, and did our work while people continued to call us a bunch of socialist facists pushing the UN's agenda on climate change(actual letters I have recieved).

We government employees are 10% of the American workforce. We're not the people on Wall Street who made money betting on people losing their homes. We're mostly not the people in Congress who turn a blind eye to deregulations that make our food products less safe, our financial markets less secure. Most of us are trying to help other Americans drive on safe roads, have books and internet, be able to get to a hospital in an emergency, keep our forests green.

There is so much about the US government that needs fixing. There are systematic issues all over. But this is a straw man- blaming the many dedicated people who want to help and want good secure jobs for appreciating that as entitled, is absurd.

Quinn A@twitter

@E Yes, thank you. I went through a really rigorous hiring process - two exams, plus an interview that included a typing test, followed by six months of barely-paid training (with exams, where a 79% was a failing grade and could result in your "firing"), plus four more months of paid on-the-job training, followed by a year's probation. At any time up to the end of that year's probation, I could have been fired for no reason with no recourse. I'm grateful for my contract, but I also damn well earned it.

ImASadGiraffe

@Quinn A@twitter Word. First, in order to apply I had to have a college degree with superior academic achievement (at least a 3.0/4.0). I had to pass two exams just to get my application in front of HR, and then had a panel interview with 3 different managers over the course of a day. Then I had training (where you had to get a 75% or better on all exams), plus a year of probation. I feel like I earned my spot in my agency, and I work hard.

bibliostitute

@E I want to hear more about this becoming a g-man process.

MilesofMountains

@mousie housie Nah, my grumblings about public servants are based on a combo of actual dealings with them and sour grapes. A random internet comment isn't exactly a good way to judge an entire group.

E
E

@bibliostitute Well basically most government jobs, and this includes local gov. in bigger cities have a hiring hoop to jump through. You need to figure out where to apply (usually each entity- city/county/federal) etc, has a website where you fill out an annoyingly long form (where you attach a resume and cover letter, but also all kinds of info). Then civil service rules says everyone who fills that form out correctly gets to take a test for the job. So then you go take a test. Everyone who gets above a passing grade then gets an interview. Then it varies, but at my job it was 1st interview with a 3 person peer panel with set questions who scored you and passed you up the chain. Only when you get to your second interview do you talk to a person who has the ability to hire you, and thats when they decide. After that I was on probation for 6 months with a performance review every 2 months until they hired me.

It can take a long time. My coworker got called about 10 months or so after her first interview for her second interview. The good thing is once your form is in, you usually stay on the list for a while so if any openings come up, you can apply. Also the good thing is that if you do the online form, you can use that to apply to a wide variety of jobs inside that system and if you meet the passing grade for any, you will get to take the test and that gives you a shot. For instance my job now is on the opposite coast from where I went to school so I studied a lot of the state regulations I never learned before my test and interviews.

So now that I'm in, its hard to get me back out. But since I think I'm overall a good employee, and I think that I work with about the same or less number of jerks that I've met at private firms, I think it's fair enough. Also a lot of times it's hard to fire people simply because to fire someone you need to document why before you can, and it's management being passive about documenting that keeps people in their seats. When you see aggregious examples of bad employees not being fired, it's often because someone at the top decided to not deal with it.

E
E

@E Oh, so, here's why this is pretty fair. I heard for a round of hires where we had 2 slots open, we had something like 1,000 applicants, of which some 650 made it to the test. From there, something like 150 passed. Then they interviewed EVERYONE who passed. Once they hired their two, if either one had failed probation, they'd have to call up everyone in the second interview batch to get another chance at it.

Comparatively, at a private firm, they'd probably just pick the first 10 they liked for interviews, and throw away all the other resumes. If they then fired both those employees, you'd have to see the job listing, know it was the same job and try again.

bibliostitute

@E Thank you for this! I'm really keen on some parts of the g-man trade, so this was useful for mental preparedness!

TheLetterL

Preach it, Nicole, on the shades of meaning in ok(ay)! Also, what does it mean if any of these are combined with your name? Is the name an intensifier?

whateverlolawants

@TheLetterL Oh man, the name is an intensifier, I think.

TheLetterL

@whateverlolawants Yeah. "Thank you, [TheLetterL}!" sounds awesome. "Okay thanks, [TheLetterL]" would make me nervous.

hahahaha, ja.

My boss is super busy and often doesn't respond to emails the first time, so I'm getting good at reading her silences. Sometimes a non-response means she hasn't had a chance to answer her email yet, sometimes it means the draft I sent her was really awful and she doesn't even know where to begin, and sometimes it means I asked a stupid question and I need to puzzle it out for myself.

Scandyhoovian

Just from the perspective of someone with people working under them, I try really hard to maintain the weird and hairy line of "friendly, but still professional," which can sometimes be hard. I also refuse to send multiple punctuations in a row (!!! or !!?!?!? or ????) in a professional email, and I try really hard not to overdo it with smiley-faces (though I tend to use them as a last resort when I think my email is sounding stupid harsh when all I'm trying to do is get a request in, so I'll drop a smiley behind it, and feel cranky that I had to do it). I almost always end an email with "Thanks," because I hate just signing off with my name.

What I'm really saying is that you may be anxiously reading the emails but your boss may also be anxiously writing them.

TheLetterL

@Scandyhoovian I am also a perpetual "Thanks" sign-off-er. Just my name seems too casual, and while I trot out "Best" or "Regards" sometimes, they don't feel right. But then I end up thanking people for things that don't actually require thanking. Am I thanking them for reading the e-mail, as is their job? Is thanking them for the time they spent reading my e-mail courteous or subservient? BAH!

Also, we are opposites! I will use double punctuation in more casual professional e-mails, but I avoid smiley faces.

cuminafterall

@TheLetterL My co-worker breaks all the rules. She uses tons of exclamation points and smilies. They tend to soften all the expletives she uses, so it evens out, like this: "Your proposal is a pile of horseshit!!! See you at the project meeting this PM :)" This is the kind of email she sends to people who are several levels above us in a different division.

I want to be her when I grow up.

KeLynn

@TheLetterL - I used to sign off all emails with "Thank you" until I felt uncomfortable about it because of what you said - I felt weird thanking them for something that didn't need thanking for, and it felt subservient and not very sure of myself/powerful somehow. So now my standard signature just has my name, and I add a "Thanks" if I'm actually sending people work to do, just to acknowledge that I'm adding to their work pile and thanks for taking on one more task.

supernintendochalmers

@Scandyhoovian Ugh, I really, really hate to use smiley faces too, but sometimes there's just no way around it without coming across really severe. I probably overuse exclamation points to make up for this most of the time.

Verity

@TheLetterL I usually sign off with "Best" because that's what my tutor at university did, and she was so competent at things that I interpreted that as The Right Sign-Off. Sometimes I say "Kind regards" or "Thanks", though.

TheLetterL

@Verity I do like the sound of "Best." I've started avoiding it at work only because the people I e-mail can have widely varying degrees of English fluency, and I worry what an on-line translator would make of it.

I tend to save "Regards" for when I can't bring myself to type "Thank you."

bitzy

@supernintendochalmers I try to avoid the smilies, but for tone, sometimes they are necessary.

My favorite emails are from a construction superintendent I work with a lot. His name is Wade, he dips, wears suspenders because belts don't fit the potbelly, has an ever-visible coin slot, and is a VERY tough looking dude. He is actually very nice as long as you are on his mental list of People Who Get Shit Done (which I am). But he uses ALL of the smilies. :P ;) :D He tries not to be as mean as he seems, which I guess translated to smilies in email, but there it is. It is kind of adorable in a grandpa kind of way.

de Pizan

@Scandyhoovian Yes, as an office manager, I was like this a lot. Early emails saw many smilies because I didn't want to come across too mean or abrasive and I struggled with my tone and how it came across. I spent far too long writing and rewriting emails trying to make it sound just right. Eventually I got over it and left off the smilies, but emails almost always ended with a thanks! If it was ever just thanks. I was so not happy. On the rare occasion where I ended with no thanks at all, look out buddy cause you are hanging by a thread.

cd
cd

"What do you do / with a B.A. in English? / What is my life going to be?" -Avenue Q
you're a secretary. and you pick up a second job as a personal assistant. and you go to school at night for nursing, bc lets face it, what were you thinking with that whole English thing?

I don't read too much into my boss' emails bc I realize he's email illiterate. In person he's a jerk part of the time and then occasionally give me a Dunkin' Donuts gift card like a creepy uncle. Adult life is fucking strange.

parallel-lines

@cd HAHAHA THIS IS MY LIFE STORY TOO! I'm finishing up my prerequisites, god get me out of here now!

special_boots

@cd I have a BA in English from a liberal arts college. And a great job, thank you very much!

#sensitivesubjects

#heardthatsongsomanytimes

cd
cd

@parallel-lines I feel like I've been taking prerequisites foreverrr. I'm in microbio this semester. godspeed to you!

cd
cd

@special_boots I'm just mocking my own silly life. Good for ya though, keep the dream alive :]

special_boots

@cd I know, I know. I've just been serenaded with that song soooooo many times by people who think they're super funny and original and OH I NEVER HEARD THAT ONE BEFORE.

Ahem.

Good luck!

redheaded&crazy

What about thnks or thnk?

... I already know the answer.

*logs off sadly*

dtowngirl

@redheaded&crazie Or, what about: Thx.
*also logs off sadly*

teaandcakeordeath

@redheaded&crazie
I hate 'tks' so much - IT'S NOT A REAL THANK YOU IF YOU SKIP HALF THE LETTERS!

But sometimes if I have to thank someone I'm cross with, then it is perfection.

KeLynn

@teaandcakeordeath in my office it's pretty standard to say "ty" for thanks, and the person responds with "np" for no problem. But the president says "tks" instead of "ty" and somehow that feels more grouchy to me and makes me nervous, even though it's actually another letter and they're both just shortened versions, aHHHHH internet!

redheaded&crazy

@KeLynn ty does kind of bother me as well. Even worse and only tangentially related is "sry" ... if you can't even be bothered to spell it properly, are you really sorry?

KeLynn

@redheaded&crazie oh my gosh, no one has ever said "sry" to me but that sounds rage-inducing. Like "I know I HAVE to say sorry, but I'm not really sorry, so I won't even type 5 letters. In your face!"

sarah girl

@redheaded&crazie I have an email contact who uses "Txs" for thanks. What?! I always read it as "Texas!" in my mind and giggle.

Decca

@KeLynn You get nervous cause it sounds like "ticks". Ticks

sarah girl

@Sarah H. Literally right after this comment I got an email from her that, in its entirety, reads:

"TXS,"

Comma included.

Decca

@Sarah H. bahahahahaha. That's definitely code for something.

iceberg

@redheaded&crazie my first boyfriend used to write "soz" UGGGHHHHH.

redheaded&crazy

@iceberg oh my god. not as SOZ as you gonna be fool!!!! oh man.

Decca

@redheaded&crazie Oh, I use "soz" all the time! Soz babez lol.

redheaded&crazy

@Decca okay I will respect that there can be a time and place when SOZ is appropriate. I have received "sry" mostly from guy friends and boyfriends where the circumstances really call for A) an in-person not by text apology but B) if you MUST at least god damn spell the whole word

HeyThatsMyBike

@Sarah H. She is promoting her INXS tribute band, TXS.

angelinha

@Sarah H. The HR person at my old job used "TXS'S"

LabRat

I once received an email from a notoriously difficult supervisor that only contained two words: "good job". No punctuation, no caps, and still possibly the nicest thing he has ever said to me. I can still find this email at a moment's notice, despite the fact that this was two jobs ago.

TheclaAndTheSeals

@LabRat I have an email saved that only says, "Thanks for your work on this." Given the person it came from, it's the biggest compliment I've ever received.

MilesofMountains

@LabRat I once got "you did a perfectly acceptable job on that report" from a boss that regularly made people cry or storm out of the building in his report reviews. I was over the moon.

wallsdonotfall

...No, really, what's wrong with "Thanks," or "Okay, thanks?" If something is done well, it deserves a thank-you or at least acknowledgement. But why does anyone use emoticons or exclamation points in work emails?

I mean, I understand why--to seem nice, to seem approachable. But that's bullshit, because there's nothing unfriendly about any of these. I'm a close/anxious reader and I think these same things too, but I hate that I do it. Why do we--and ESPECIALLY women--have to be so nice?

TheLetterL

@wallsdonotfall It's partly, I think, because we're talking about e-mails and not an in-person interaction. Communicating tone in e-mail is a problem, especially in a one word e-mail.

Lucienne

@wallsdonotfall I feel you on this. But, I often get misread as being ummmm supercilious? in my interactions with others, when really I am just subdued/reserved, and so in e-mail (to my peers) stuff like exclamation marks are sort of a preventative measure.

frigwiggin

@wallsdonotfall I think those of us who worry about whether it's a period, comma, or exclamation point are the kind of passive-aggressive person who use punctuation in just that way and thus are inclined to read into other people's punctuation choices. I know when I'm crabby at someone for being dumb or putting in a last-minute request LIKE THEY ALWAYS DO but can't say anything because they make more money than me, I change my usual thanks! to a thanks.

Emma Peel

@wallsdonotfall YES THIS.

It took me several weeks into my first terse immediate supervisor (who was also my first male immediate supervisor actually -- this was in my interning, but post-college, days) to realize that no, he didn't hate me, he was just too busy for a bunch of small talk.

Not everything everyone does is all about you. Not every interaction is about you. Chances are they're just not thinking about you at all so much as they are finishing the email. I know this is tongue-in-cheek, but reading snubs into things like emails is socially anxious, of course, but also narcissistic in the way all social anxiety sort of is. (And I am socially anxious! But I've found the best way for me to deal with it is to roll my eyes at myself and say, come on, not everyone is thinking that much or that deeply about you.)

(That said, my boss is not only terse, but uses a huge amount of ellipses... which I only use passive-aggressively... but I'm pretty sure he doesn't mean all of them that way... I hope...)

parallel-lines

I overabuse exclamation marks because I worry people will think I am not sufficiently pleased with their work or grateful for their help. I've been chastised for not giving a thank you response to every single email so now I just do it, even if I don't mean it.

Thanks!

Thanks!

Thank you so much!

No, I really mean it, above and beyond!

I simply could not function without you. I would die! My eyes would pop out of my head like that scene with the zero oxygen planet in Total Recall!

I mean it! You moved that meeting like it was a mountain and no one can move a meeting like you. THANKS FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART AND THEN SOME.

iceberg

@parallel-lines UGH I work with some people who send thank you emails for everything and I find them so irritating! Like, it's just a waste of everyone's time. But it would be so rude to be like *eyeroll* yuo don't have to send thank yous EVERY TIME i do somehing!

parallel-lines

@iceberg I think so, too, but then I started getting snarky comments and it was like, FINE, THANK YOU, HAPPY NOW?

I also probably should put 'I'm sorry' as my email footer--90% of my emails are apologies for my boss's crummy, flaky behavior.

frigwiggin

@parallel-lines I use "thanks!" instead of "sincerely," even though sometimes I stop and am like, "what am I thanking this person for? I'm doing them a favor!" But somehow I can't bring myself to remove it. Sigh.

werewolfbarmitzvah

@parallel-lines I use "thanks" so much that it nearly borders on becoming a tic, and lots of exclamation points because I'm so quiet in the office that gratuitous exclamation points are my only defense against being labeled as the office serial killer. And now I'm paranoid that everyone in the office is secretly mocking me as the "THANKS!" lady.

Lorelei@twitter

@iceberg I am usually on the receiving end of thank-you emails, and I actually appreciate them a lot. Not necessarily because I feel like people are rude for not thanking me, but usually I am sending deliverables to someone and the thank you message is a confirmation that they've received it, all attachments came through, the documents look correct, etc. Not that I get requests to change things on a regular basis (and when I do it's often because a client has a last-minute change rather than a mistake on my part), but I'm paranoid about screwing up, so a positive acknowledgement is a relief. And then naturally I feel like it'd be rude not to send thank you emails to these same people when I'm the one asking them for something.

But I also don't receive many work emails. Like, maybe 3-4 a day typically, and if I'm getting more it's because a project with a high-maintenance client is going badly and nobody is sending thank yous.

Hm, does this mean I shouldn't be thanking my sysadmin every time he helps me? But usually those are IMs not email and not saying thanks on IM just seems like the most callous thing ever. also I ask him for help like once a month maybe.

Be But Little

Oh, dear. This is my job in a nutshell. It doesn't help that I work from home now, so all my communication is via email/text message.

VDRE

I just went through all of my emails from my boss and I realized that he hasn't emailed me directly for months. I send him my stuff on Friday and then I get no response and worry all weekend and on Monday I awkwardly go into his office and say "heyyyy about Friday?" and he says 'oh did you send me an email? I don't remember what it said."

angelinha

@VDRE My old boss was sooo bad at email and on the rare occasion that he brought himself to email me or forward a relevant message from someone else, he'd get up, walk down the hall, come in and TELL ME THAT HE HAD JUST SENT ME AN EMAIL. And then he would tell me what it said.

Slutface

More info on this lease breaking business because I want out of mine! I'm in an apartment complex that I hate hate hate!!!

Reginal T. Squirge

Just Airbnb the fuck out of that place until you make enough money to live somewhere else or they kick you out of your current place.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

My boss is very terse via email, very terse in person, and on the phone he is SO FUNNY. It's like he lets his hair down when he leaves the office. Me too, man.

frigwiggin

I got a "thank you" from my supervisor with four exclamation points yesterday. I emailed her about an optometry appointment. ????

Thank you!!!!

oh! valencia

@frigwiggin She must be in a huge rush.

Megasus

@frigwiggin OR she's freaking out cuz there's lots of stuff to do and doesn't wnat to tell you

frigwiggin

@Megano!

That, or she's just super-duper excited that I'm finally getting glasses again since I broke them five or six months ago and have been flying blind this whole time.

Megasus

@frigwiggin That sucks!

frigwiggin

@Megano! Ehh, I'm just lazy and couldn't make the appointment online because Kaiser's site is borked and I had to CALL, jeez, can you BELIEVE it?! Harrumph.

Bloodrocuted

@frigwiggin There have been a series of slapstick events happening around you that you can't see. She's excited she won't slip in spilled coffee while trying to pick up scattered papers and keep you from walking into the elevator shaft anymore.

Scandyhoovian

four years of college / and plenty of knowledge / have earned me this useless degreeeeeee

She Saved The World, Alot

Ugh. My supervisor, after driving me nuts by throwing me into a clinic I haven't done/been trained for since LAST SEPTEMBER, send me an email at the end of the day that said "YOU DID IT! I AM SO PROUD OF YOU! :) :) :)"

...I'd nearly had a panic attack at my desk that day. I almost put my fist through the computer screen when I saw that email. Don't treat me like I'm in kindergarten, TRAIN ME PROPERLY before you throw me through the ringer.

Es
Es

Hm. I may be sending all my minions into paroxyms of anxiety. I rarely use exclamation marks, and never multiple ones. It's usually 'lovely, ta' or 'lovely, thanks' if they're a non-native speaker and will be confused by 'ta'.

nyikint

@Es I'm a native English speaker and confused by 'ta'! Is it like ta ta, bye bye?

iceberg

@nyikint "Ta" means thank you in British and Aussie English. Easy for kids to learn!

Es
Es

@iceberg Sorry yes, I meant UK-English! I forget this isn't a UK site...

I do ring the changes with a 'cheers' sometimes.

SuperGogo

@Es I love ta. I wish Americans used it too.

iceberg

@SuperGogo I'm raising 3 american babies to say "ta!", plus use it all the time myself anyway (having successfully infected all my coworkers' vocabs with "dodgy",) so hopefully it will spread!

hahahaha, ja.

@Es: All of my non-US collaborators use "cheers," which I think is lovely. I want to start using "cheers" but I'm paranoid people are going to notice and be all "what is up with this silly American?"

Verity

@iceberg On the subject of "easy for kids to learn", "ta" was one of the first words my boyfriend's nephew (Australian mum, English dad, lives in Australia) learned. He liked to play the "ta game" aged about 15 months, where you would hand him something and he would say "ta", and then he'd hand it back and you'd have to say "ta". Entertaining for ages!

lalaladododo

@Es I used to email some folks in the UK for work and I always loved it when I got emails from them that simply said "Cheers"

TARDIStime

@lalaladododo This is so widely used in Australia - I had no idea Americans didn't really do "cheers".
It's definitely worth adopting - very suitable for all occasions.

CrescentMelissa

Honestly the worst is "k" from your boss. As in, I send an email and I worked a zillion hours on the information in this email and here is all the information you asked for plus some additional items that you may need and the response is "k".

P.S. I have his job now.

invisible n

Hey all! Long-time reader/secret lurker (?), first-time commenter! Two things:

1) OH, the English major shout-out, thank you. I still get "so...you wanted to teach?" and the puzzled reaction face when I say "Nope, just liked to write." WHATWILLIDOWITHMYLIFEOHNO. I'm employed, thankfully, but still get the well-meaning (maybe?) but rude interrogations of my Life Decisions.

2) Where do you guys stand on ellipses? I got a recent email from my boss's boss that was a simple "Thanks..." Cue massive anxiety.

Three little dots, but they could mean SO MUCH MOREEEE.

Es
Es

@invisible n I'm a sub-editor, so any ellipses from my team, boss or minions, are deliberate (or they'd better be, anyway). Quite a lot of our writers use them randomly though (which is why we have jobs) - it seems to be when a full stop might seem harsh and a ! might seem a bit OTT.

elbows on the table

@invisible n oh my god this. Thanks, but you hate it? Thanks, but it's awful? Thanks, but it wasn't quite what you expected? Thanks, but I'm not doing well enough and seriously need to step it up? THANKS, BUT YOU'RE JUDGING ME?! Ahh!

edit: ellipses give me huge anxiety issues when they're coming from a supervisor of any sort.

Emma Peel

@invisible n oh god my boss does this and I hate it SO SO SO MUCH.

MarianTheLibrarian

@invisible n There are not enough words in the English language to adequately convey my hatred of ellipses used improperly. Annoying and anxiety-producing!

KeLynn

What about the guy in my office who ends everything with ellipses?

KeLynn: "Hey X, is it OK if I push your project back a day or two? I'm swamped."
X: "that's fine...."

KeLynn: "Hey X, when do you need that report by?"
X: "tomorrow morning..."

He ends EVERYTHING with it, so I know in my head that he's not trying to be snarky/mean, but I always read it as "God, KeLynn, you're so stupid."

Unless, I guess, he always thinks I'm stupid and only does this to me...

nonvolleyball

@KeLynn oh my god, no, that's totally a Thing some people do (a former coworker, & now, my current boss; his justification is that it seems less "severe" than a period, whatever that means). I am a punctuation nerd & it drives me CARAZY because I can't help but read it with a weird trailing-off eyebrow-wiggling Implication of some kind that usually doesn't have any logical connection to the context. but what're you gonna do...

Es
Es

@KeLynn I think that's a classic 'can't use a full stop, can't use an exclamation mark, what the hell do I end this with? panic.

KeLynn: "Hey X, is it OK if I push your project back a day or two? I'm swamped."
X: "that's fine." - sounds abrupt, as if it's not fine at all.
X: "that's fine!" sounds like there's nothing he'd like more in the world than to have his stuff delayed.

KeLynn

@Es Hmmm I guess to me, I take "Thanks fine." more at face value than "That's fine..." - with the latter it feels impatient/annoyed/upset to me.

I guess this is why some people use 10 exclamation points, because no one knows what anyone means on the internet!

fabel

@KeLynn gahh, my brother does this in e-mails? I don't get how "..." is less severe-- to me, it just sounds like you have more to say, but it's not good? or you're trying to be ironic, or sarcastic? "sounds good..." DOES IT? DOES THAT MEAN IT DOESN'T SOUND GOOD

nonvolleyball

@fabel I KNOW. my boss recently wrote back "It looks good..." after I'd emailed him about some recent updates I'd done to a website I maintain. I totally had to talk myself down from a totally unwarranted ledge of "I'M GONNA BE FIRED BY THE END OF THE WEEK!"

cuminafterall

@KeLynn Maybe start ending your emails to him with totally incomprehensible and therefore neutral punctuation, like this*-;~

nonvolleyball

@cuminafterall ‽

KeLynn

@cuminafterall DONE*-;~

Verity

@KeLynn That's ridiculous. I would just be doubting everything they said.

Martita

@KeLynn I don't know how old you all are, but I think of this as an old-school internet thing. Back in the days when the internet was restricted to universities, before AOL and the World Wide Web, everyone did this. We didn't have emoticons--and when they came along, they were sneered at as an "AOL thing"--so people would soften emails with ellipses. I have friends who still do this as a habit. I reluctantly adopted emoticons, although I still kinda hate them.

Emma Peel

@Martita I'm so glad that other people have ellipsis boss communication. It is the most anxiety-producing thing, no lie, even though I know it's just a tic and he uses them the way I use exclamation points!

(Alternate ending to that sentence: the way I use exclamation points...)

Palmetto

@KeLynn One coworker I had often replied with "thanks~". Not as severe as a period but not as excited as an exclamation point. cool beanz~

area@twitter

@KeLynn My current boss occasionally ends her texts with ellipses, and it always makes me nervous when she does. It's like I can hear the sigh of irritation at the end.

happy go lucky scamp

@KeLynn I'm constantly stopping myself from the three ellipses. I don't know why I started, I think I was posting on a lot of forums and it seemed like a good way to separate my points. But now I'm wiser I know that if I write well I don't need punctuation to compensate.
But still... its a habit.

KeLynn

@Palmetto - I saw this today, and thought of this convo when I saw the Snark Mark http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/144712

Was your corworker especially snarky?

Blushingflwr

So many people have mentioned using "thanks" as a closing even when it's not really appropriate. I tend to use "thanks" when I'm asking for something, and "let me know if you have any questions" when I'm providing something. (Alternately, "let me know if I can be of further assistance" "let me know if there's anything else you need" etc.)

iceberg

@Blushingflwr Eh I end everything with thanks. I think of it more as "thanks for your time" or "thanks for reading this email" or something?

TARDIStime

@iceberg "Cheers". The most universal sign-off ever.

CrescentMelissa

@TARDIStime I like "Stay gold" personally, but I can be a jerk.

Blushingflwr

@CrescentMelissa I end my trivia nights with "be excellent to each other". Maybe that should be my new sig line

Verity

Some of the people I work with like to use multiple punctuation marks a lot. I will get emails with two or three question marks at the end of a sentence, and it's really worrying! It makes it sound like they're panicking.

Decca

@Verity How was your weekend???

Verity

@Decca WHY DO YOU NEED TO KNOW SO URGENTLY?

It is very alarming when they do it. I feel like I must have done something wrong!

(My weekend was fine, incidentally.)

EvilAuntiePeril

@Verity I have an Italian colleague who does everything he can to defend the stereotype by using multiple!!! exclamation!!!!! marks!!!!!!!! and ranDOm cAPS on mails. Frequently, I am too emotionally exhausted from reading the subject line to continue to read the main body of the email.

de Pizan

@EvilAuntiePeril My aunt ends every single sentence in an exclamation point. No matter what the subject. Paraphrasing from real emails: "Tina totaled her car again for the third time this year! And Bob tested positive for a random drug test and per probation requirements has to serve more jail time! We'll let you know how long! The doctor found some skin cancer spots on my face and I get them removed next week!"
Seriously, I agree it's exhausting. And sometimes inappropriate?

Lorelei@twitter

My boss is 27 and from southern California, I get a lot of "right on" and "cool." Also he generally seems happy with my work so I don't worry too much about emails from him. IMs from the CEO asking me if I have a minute to come to his office, though...

Reginal T. Squirge

We also need to ban the use of that fucking orange "IMPORTANT" exaclamation mark.

redheaded&crazy

@Reginal T. Squirge the only time this is ever used appropriately is when it indicates I have received an interac e-transfer from somebody. !

theharpoon

My favorite workplace email that I had to print out and file when working as a file clerk at a law firm:

"Are You mad at Me?

GEAUX TIGERS"

from a (partner) lawyer to his paralegal.

owlfacedmothmen

I am the assistant to a fabulous 50-somehing gay man, and last week he sent me a text that said "U are my rock". Killin' it in the secretary biz.

TARDIStime

@owlfacedmothmen PA to a gay man = my dream job. Seriously, I've only ever heard good things (from heterosexual women) about having homosexual men as bosses.
Fresh flowers twice a week!
Surprise chocolate!
Compliments and style advice!

Congrats on your awesomeness @owlfacedmothmen!

owlfacedmothmen

@TARDIStime Hahaha I'm glad I'm living the dream! We do have a ritual where we go in his office and watch the 'honeybadger don't give a shit' video on youtube to get pumped up.

Kira-Lynn@twitter

@owlfacedmothmen Wow, I have worked for gay men for YEARS and it is not like that.

area@twitter

Does anyone else text constantly with their boss or bosses? We spend a lot of time running from place to place in my job, and my boss and coworkers and I probably text each other 10-15 times a day (can you pick this up, this person is late, can you let this guy know we'll be ready in 10 minutes).

The big boss I work for is famous for brevity. It's occasionally maddening to write three paragraphs explaining a complex plan of action to him and get a two-letter response. "ok" On the flip side, if he's writing full sentences to you, that's usually a bad thing.

Lost penguin

I would like to defend the terse texters/ emailers (being one myself). I am really slow at texting, think email is often slack and impersonal and would much prefer to speak to the person if possible. Texts and emails should be information exchange not conversation, that is for later, in the bar.

VerityStandingStill

I have a co-worker who sends emails like this.....Multiple periods between each sentence with no spaces......Every single email I have ever received from this person has been like this....Every single one.....Even when there's an exclamation point!.....or a question mark?......What does it mean?......Thanks....VerityStandingStill

lora.bee

@VerityStandingStill I just laughed out loud.

VerityStandingStill

Hi lora.bee........I'm glad you enjoyed it.....It is funny, but kind of in a sad way?..........Have a great day......Thanks......VerityStandingStill

lora.bee

@VerityStandingStill STILL LAUGHING WHY DO PEOPLE DO THIS

FickleMoon

I sign off everything like that now.
"Hi Mum, home for weekend as depressed with my life. Thanks."
"Oh no, you broke up? Thanks."
"Sorry. Thanks."

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