99 Problems but Email Ain’t One

Dear 3040 and Beyond:

I’m a new grad at a big firm and I think I’ve messed things up with my co-workers. They’ve been acting weird around me and my only office friend says I’ve been offending people in my emails. From my boss to my peers, it looks like I’ve made everyone mad. The thing is, I have no idea what kinds of stuff I could say in email that would piss people off! I’m a nice person and I haven’t had many problems like this before. Can you help?


In Hot Water

Dear In Hot Water,

Never fear, we can fix this mess in no time. The thing with emails, texts, and all pieces of writing in general is that people don’t always know you’re intention or tone.

People convey our messages when we talk to each other in person not only by dialogue, but also by our tone of voice. You can immediately tell if someone is irritated, joking, or being sarcastic by the way they talk. The lack of physical presence in emails creates a disconnect for people reading and interpreting them.


In an article by a leadership developer Connie Dieken, she speaks about the warmth we need to add to emails. Acknowledge your coworker’s presence when writing an email by using their name in the beginning. Additionally, acknowledge when they’ve doing something to help you and be sure to give thanks when needed. Being polite and considerate is a way to bring warmth to emails.

Be Professional

As you previously mentioned, you’re at a big firm. Keep your emails professional by not making jokes or trying sarcasm out. People either will not understand what you’re trying to say or take it as a lack of professionalism. This is a corporate job and you need to treat it as such. Don’t use any cuss words or slang. You’re coworkers might not have heard certain slang words and may even be offended by them. There’s a time and a place for those, and the office is neither. Reread each line in your email and ask yourself if people could interpret them differently.

Moody Moody

In an article titled, “Don’t Type at Me Like That” it addresses the reasoning for people misinterpreting emails. The advice it gives is to not assume everyone is in the same mood as you when you write the email. This is completely true, if your boss is having a bad day and receives an email with a million questions from you, it might seem as if you’re attacking him/her when really, you’re just trying to do your job proficiently.

Keep it Concise 

You should be keeping your emails short, sweet, and to the point. Make sure that you only say what you need to stay. Don’t get off track or add personal antidotes. If you go through your emails with a fined tooth comb, there shouldn’t be a lot of room for misinterpretation.

Bad News Bears 

Don’t give bad news in emails ever. In an article by INC.com, it was pointed out that while emails need to be professional, there is a certain informality about them. This makes telling bad news show a lack of respect and professionalism. (I know, so many rules to be professional!) Also, keep in mind, emails can’t be erased like conversations, and if somebody gets bad news from you, they may interpret it worse than you intend. Face-to-face confrontations are better for bad news.

Don’t Annoy Them7060643f6ca8f27fa9ac3314f203bcb1

It’s easy to worry if somebody got your email about the meeting change or their responsibilities on the next project. Don’t worry, they are professionals, and so are you. Focus on your job and they’ll focus on theirs. Don’t email them again unless you are genuinely following up on something. Additionally, don’t give them one word answers like ‘k’, ‘ok’, or ‘yeah.’ Don’t waste your time and don’t waste their time with an email like that.

Finally, I think it would help you a lot to read my last advice letter on emailing here. I laid out some email advice for another corporate job. Soon you’ll be just like Jay-Z!




Published by

Zoe Golden

I'm a junior at Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado, Boulder. I'm studying accounting and aspiring to be a CPA.

7 thoughts on “99 Problems but Email Ain’t One

  1. Hi Zoe!I think your article is by far the best one I have read on this topic. Your break down of the changes people should make to their writing is flawless. I loved your use of humor especially. Articles- particularly ones offering advice- tend to get a little preachy. However your use of humor really breaks up this article and made me want to keep reading. I mean, who doesn’t love a pop culture reference? In addition I thought the articles you included really supported your main points. They weren’t simply inserted but rather served as an extension of your main argument. I really feel like your article is extremely user friendly and the sections make it easy to reference. This is the exact kind of writing I would love to see in a work email. Way to go for practicing what your preach and writing an informative, and captivating article.

  2. Zoe! I thought your post was really funny and you did a great job of letting your voice show through in your writing. I’m guilty of failing to acknowledge the recipient in my emails occasionally, especially if I am in a hurry to get the info out there. This is something that all members of our generation can afford to improve upon. I think that because texting has become second nature, many of us treat emails exactly like a text, where one word or abbreviated answers are acceptable. The fact of the matter is that emails are their own medium, and they should be treated accordingly. Great post!

  3. Zoe! I loved your humor in this post! Jay-Z Rocks! I really enjoyed your section on moodiness. It is easy to assume that everyone is in the same state of mind as you, however that is not the case most of the time. It is such a good thing to be aware that someone may be having a bad day. By taking a “lighter approach” on emails could do the trick. I also loved how you mentioned the point of keeping emails short, sweet and to the point. I myself have mentioned similar advise because no one wants to read a wall of text.

  4. I enjoyed reading this post. The title was good as it helped your post stand out from others. Also the way you broke your post down into 6 sub headers made everything really easy to digest. Your incorporation of the articles was done seamlessly and none of them felt forced. I also liked the Jay-Z meme as well as referencing him in the last paragraph to actually play out the meaning from the title. I thought “acknowledge” was your best piece of advice as this is a concept that’s all to easy to forget about. Overall, good work with this post!

  5. Firstly i really liked the title of the blog post it really brought the article to my attention! I liked how you incorporated so many different ways to keep emails professional. The short quick paragraphs were really effective and concise in getting the readers to understand exactly what to do with no fillers. I like how you kept it humorous while still completing the post because these are quite a fun activity to do for the class. It also showcases a different way to write emails not everything has to be so Dear and sincerely you can have little fun with it just make sure what you are sending is relevant information which i think you did so well here! Overall i really think this was a great post and i liked the attitude you went through while writing it it kept it positive funny and yet quality!

  6. Hi Zoe,

    The way you laid out this post made it very reader friendly and easy to read. It flowed naturally and never overwhelmed the reader at any points. Additionally, your headings enhanced your message and made it easy for the reader to understand what they should take away from your post. As for the writing itself, I thought you did a great job of keeping a friendly and helpful tone throughout the post. The Jay-Z references in the title, post, and meme helped accomplish this through humor and creating a common reference point for most millennials. Finally, I thought you made some really great points in the advice you gave. Keep up the great work!

    Nate Roadman

  7. Hi Zoe!
    I liked how you immediately said “we can fix this mess.” It makes it seem like they aren’t facing these problems alone, and that you are going to do everything you can to help. I really like how you broke the post up into short sections that focus in on one specific point. It makes it really easy to read and understand. Your article in the “Moody Moody” section is really great addition for extra information. Also, linking your reader to another one of your posts is awesome, especially if the reader feels like they have a connection to your advice. Good job!

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