Best Way to Annoy Your Co-Workers? E-mail

At a Chicago-area market research firm, an overzealous office manager has become an office joke to Dan, a 33-year-old analyst, and his co-workers.

"She sends e-mails out with 'Clean out the fridge,' or 'The dishwasher is broken,'" Dan says.

The problem is every one of the e-mails is flagged as urgent, has 40-point bold, red font and is in all caps.

"A lot of people just have them automatically go to [their] trash can," Dan says. "They're more annoying than they are helpful. … If the [office] complex is having a barbecue or anything, it's marked red and urgent."

Office e-mail offenders. Everyone has them, from people who excessively "reply all" (annoying) to colleagues who copy your boss when criticizing you (rude). Experts identified the most offensive e-mail moves and how to avoid making them yourself.

Netiquette No-No #1: The Passive-Aggressive Copy

As e-mail has become the predominant language of corporate culture, political minefields have developed about things seemingly as arcane as who you copy on an e-mail.

And don't deny you haven't done it yourself: You want to make sure your colleague pays attention to your request, so you copy their boss.

It may feel satisfying at the time, but etiquette experts say it could come back to bite you.

"'CC-ing' is a very tricky area. If you cc someone's boss on a criticism, it takes it from Def Con 3 to Def Con 1," says Will Schwalbe, the co-author of "Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home." "It's an incredibly hostile act."

Although it sounds simple, Schwalbe suggests asking the person you're communicating with before copying anyone.

"Ask permission before including someone in on a conversation if there's a chance that it will cause unhappiness," he advises. "You have to be especially careful when there's a thread when you cc someone because now there's an entire thread that's available."

Rachel, a 27-year-old analyst in Washington, D.C., says the "cc-ing" behavior of her bosses left her feeling micromanaged.

"I hate that. Actually, that type of behavior is the reason I quit my [former] job," she says. "Every time I sent a correspondence to any one in the firm, my manager made me cc her on it. … I feel like I'm being judged."

Netiquette No-No #2: Reply All

E-mailers who will not stop hitting the "reply all" plague people from every walk of life — even etiquette experts.

"My favorite was once seeing a group e-mail with about 60 e-mails talking about how the group needs to have less replies, less 'thanks' and 'great,'" says Anna Post, an author and etiquette expert at the Emily Post Institute.

The e-mail continued "with tons of replies of 'thanks' and 'great.' 'You're right.' I was laughing so hard," she says.

This is especially irksome to Peter Martin, an associate editor at Esquire magazine.

"I hate when people reply all, especially when they don't know everyone on the e-mail list," he says. "You're not that funny. This is the more aggressive version of writing 'hilarious' RSVPs for E-vites."

Post advises to never reply all — unless of course it's really needed.

"If you're adding something substantial to the conversation, then a reply all is worth it or if you need to confirm the information to everyone. Cool, neat-o, thanks — those are not necessary," Post says. "Invariably, it's someone who writes something they shouldn't who hits reply all and that's a whole other mess."

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