I'm all about communication. To me, any attempt at communication is better than nothing at all. But, having said that, there are a few ways of emailing that can grate on the recipient. Here are four of them:
The doctoral candidate
This group is the polar opposite of the Gen Y'ers who are accustomed to texting with word shortcuts like "u" for "you." Though admirable for their need for absolute clarity, the Doctoral Candidates send the kind of email you dread opening. Their emails include greetings and salutations, the complete history of the issue at hand, and a request for a reply that stops just short of a self-addressed stamped envelope.
I know I sound like a real tool dissing the politeness of such emails, but, as it is with everyone else on the planet right now, my time is tight. If your email requires CliffsNotes, I'm likely not going to welcome it.
The stream-of-consciousness emailer
You know this kind of email. It's the I-guess-he-knew-what-he-was-saying-but-I have-no-idea-what-he's-talking-about kind. This is the person who is so intent on getting down the thoughts that flitter through his brain that he doesn't take into account how the recipient will perceive the message. I don't mind the occasional run-on sentence, but if your emails require the employment of a secret decoder ring, then you might want to flesh them out a bit. And say what you will about proper punctuation, but a missing or misplaced comma can make a big difference in meaning. (There's a big difference between "Let's eat, Grampaw!" and "Let's eat Grampaw!")
The out-of-context puzzler
My job requires that I communicate with about 50 freelance contributors and roughly 100 billion PR people. At least once a day I get an email from someone that simply says, "Do you still need that?" or "What did you think about that issue?" I don't care if I had a petabyte memory chip lodged in my head, there's no way I can remember the context of every message I get without a little background reminder.
The emotive emailerHave you ever gotten an email that is so full of formatting (!) that you're EMOTIONALLY exhausted by the time you finish reading it?!! Or ones that contain keyboard emoticons that you've never seen or heard of? I'm really not up on the art of keyboard hieroglyphics, so I'm likely to interpret a laughing emoticon as a screaming one. And that can make a big difference. Also, I think human beings should be given a finite number of exclamation points to use in their lifetime and no more.
Do you have a kind of email type that irks you? If so, then share.
Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.