Let’s Get Worked Up About: Email Pet Peeves

By | 2 years ago

Email. It's the most annoyingly omnipresent element of our working lives. When trying to enjoy the holidays, a nice vacation or even a relaxing Sunday evening, many people can't get the image of an overstuffed inbox out of their minds.

During my last couple of busy seasons, I remember the dread I felt waking up in the morning, expecting snippy emails asking for status updates that were sent in the early morning hours. I think one of my main motivations for working late was that it reduced the chance that emails would be waiting for me the next morning. Shudder

Unfortunately, email has become such a nuisance that some people seem willing to abandon ALL COMMON DECENCY as evidenced by this Above the Law article I stumbled across yesterday. A young associate at Quinn Emanuel was pointed to a "memo" dicouraging "Thank you" emails. Here's the text from a message that the founding partner of the firm sent around:

We have all been raised to be courteous in our dealings with our fellow man, and woman. I submit, however, that in the context of email, we should all be relieved of the obligation to send the routine “thanks” email to acknowledge a response to a routine request. I won’t do the arithmetic here, but I think any of u can calculate the time cost of opening an email, reading it and deleting it. Its not worth it.

Henceforth all responses to emails shall be deemed to be properly acknowledged and appreciated. “Thanks” beyond that is unnecessary (and not appreciated).

John B. Quinn

Directing employees to imply acknowledgement and appreciation because TIME IS MONEY is sorta stupid. Are law firms billing in three-second increments now? That's literally how long it takes to type "Thanks" and hit Ctrl+Enter to send an email. For you neanderthals who use a mouse to click send, maybe it takes you six seconds. Seems like a lot of bluster for pleasantries.

On the other hand, people have gone to great lengths to overanalyze how we email so maybe there is something to all this over-thanking. Plus I've always felt that "Thanks," and "Thank you," felt insincere as opposed to "Thanks!"  or "Thank you!" But even if it's an annoyance, at least it's a polite annoyance. I suppose we could all start replacing "Thank you" with "Fuck you very much" just to see how that approach goes.

Anyway, the whole point is that during this Busy Season of Our Lord, 2016, you will encounter idiotic email behavior. In this case, you send it to us for immediate analysis. Remember that rash of reply-all responses like the one at PwC a few years back? That was a real treasure. 

I'm sure these aren't the only email pet peeves you'll encounter, so we'll allow the airing of email grievances now so everyone knows what to avoid.

Thanks!

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