What’s Happened to Professionalism in the Workplace?
That we live in an ever-changing world is quite obvious in the way we communicate with one another. With the advent of email, technology has given us the gift of instant gratification – or is it really a gift? It seems that the speed and convenience of emails may be at the root of many professional blunders. In fact, I sometimes get the feeling that professionalism in the workplace is going the way of the Twinkie – threatened with extinction.
Please, if we’ve never met, address me as Ms. White. First name basis takes time and good will. Unless you are writing from a house of worship do not sign off with something like “Blessings.” A valediction such as “Hugs” – or, even worse, “Hugz” – could give me the right to ignore you completely.
It is also mystifying to me how a grown adult can sign off an office email with an emoticon. A smiley face rolling its eyes or giving a high five may not appropriately convey the intention of the sender. My response is that this adult has some juvenile issues to work out.
Do I even have to say anything about text abbreviations? There seem to be hundreds of them that are proliferating on a daily basis. There are more of these than jimmies on an ice cream cone, and if you don’t understand them they can leave too much room for interpretation. They can be dangerous! It is much safer to spell out your messages in full for clients and coworkers.
Speaking of coworkers, I worked with someone who put multiple exclamation points after every sentence in his emails. It felt like he was yelling at me, but I knew otherwise because he would be saying something like this: “Hi Peggy, Could you please send me the spreadsheet from July!!!” This example simply required a question mark. The owner of the company would send us emails all in caps such as “FAT AND HAPPY ISN’T WORKING FOR ME.” In this case, she was yelling at us because she was a chronically angry person. On the other hand, writing in all lower case just looks lazy. Misspellings, punctuation and grammatical errors show a lack of pride in one’s work.
And a final word to the wise: remember that office emails are never private. One electronic indiscretion could be your very last Twinkie.
First published October 2014