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

More than 10 years later, passive-aggressive e-mails are alive and well.

ByABC News
July 10, 2008, 6:15 PM

July 17, 2008 — -- 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.

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.