According to UK researchers, it’s a new form of workplace harassment.
The sender of ego mail unnecessarily copies the boss on an irrelevant email, usually to show up or embarrass a colleague. Not only does it lead to distrust in the workplace, it also creates a culture of fear, with some experts going so far as to call it bullying or harassment. Imagine the sense of betrayal you’d feel if your entire email thread to a colleague was suddenly cc’d to your boss.
Other forms of ego mail include simple showing off: mailing your boss really early or late at night to show them you’re still working. Researchers in Cambridge, UK found flexi or remote workers who want to appear to be indispensable also use ego mail to appear as ‘in touch’ as office workers.
Although it may be viewed as the ultimate power play – a tactic used by more men than women – it should be used wisely. You’ll not only risk losing workplace friends, you could alienate important colleagues too. While we can’t really hate email, it’s worth noting a few rules to keep things on the civil side…
Avoid repeated reply alls
You can appear efficient without commenting on every mail the group sends, and you’ll be showing respect for others’ workload to keep your comments to a minimum.
Not everything is urgent
Labelling each mail as URGENT won’t make people take action faster. It just causes unnecessary panic and you’ll be the office equivalent of the boy who cried wolf. One day when you really have a crisis, you won’t get the response
Watch your tone, and those caps
Capitals make you look angry, or like an out-of-touch fossil who never learnt to use the shift key. Adopt the correct rules of English, and remember that emails are not texts – you can’t soften the tone of your words with an emoji (nor should you be tempted to add a smiley face!). Although email makes it easy to be aggressive (and passively so), think
carefully before sending. Remember, anger doesn’t last forever, but an angry email does.
Keep it classy
Along with emojis, strings of punctuation marks can also appear aggressive and unprofessional. Ditch the ellipses
and finish your sentences.
When met with silence, avoid sending annoying follow-up mails
(‘I don’t mean to bother you but…’). If you don’t receive a reply, pick up the phone or arrange a face-to-face meeting.
COMPILED BY JANINE COLLINS PHOTOS: FOTOLIA.COM