Are you an E-mail E-diot?

It seems the more ways they invent for us to communicate, the worse we become at it.

Email is pretty old-school these days (and I believe smart companies will replace it, internally at least, with a social communications chat-type format), but I am still constantly amazed and frustrated by the sloppy way many people use it.

Most days I get 100 plus emails, and even discounting the ‘spammy’ ones, about half of those need not have come to me at all.

Meet 5 “e-mail e-diots”, that need to learn the error of their ways. I am pretty sure you know them already!

  • “The CC King” – This is the guy who copies in everyone, on everything. No matter how trivial, we all get the email. Or maybe it’s not trivial, but it’s just nothing to do with us. We still get the email. Why does he do it? Maybe to ‘cover all bases’, to show how busy or smart he is, or just a bad habit. Who knows? But please, just stop doing it! Think about the recipients you add before you press ‘send’. Do they need to know? Will they care? Are you just annoying people?
  • “Mr. Always-Reply” – These guys are irritating. It’s like they have to have the last word. Via email. So no matter that the communication is complete. Everything clear. They will still send one more email. Maybe just with a few words, saying nothing or repeating what has already been confirmed. Or you send out a group email with a piece of standard information. No reply needed. But they reply anyway, often repeating what was in your email, or just offering gratuitous, irrelevant comment on what you said!
  • “The Reply-All Princess” – You send an email to a group of people. Some reply if it affects them. She replies to everyone telling them it does not affect her! Then another ‘Reply-all’ loony copies everyone in on his inane reply, which might be about going to the pub on Friday. Then she copies all 50 people in, confirming a time for the rendezvous. Then he presses ‘Reply-all’ asking if she can make it half an hour later…. FFS!
  • “The CC-Clown” – This person does not understand confidentiality. There is a BCC option in email, which goes unused by the Clown, and every single email address of 30 strangers are circulated for the world to see. And then the spam begins… Keep my address private… please!
  • “ The SMS ‘er” – SMS lingo is irritating when used in a SMS message. Used in an email, it’s bordering on a crime. Please don’t email me saying CUL8R, and if you dare LOL me I will scream.

So what do you think? Any email habits that drive you crazy? Please share in the comments section, and help me fight the good fight against the army of email e-diots clogging up our inboxes.


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Over a career spanning thirty years, Greg Savage has established himself as a global recruitment leader. Greg is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

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36 Responses to Are you an E-mail E-diot?

  1. Hannah October 30, 2012 at 8:13 am #

    I love this post.

    I once had an encounter with a ‘cc clown’. I have signed up to survey sites/focus group websites to earn some extra cash on the side, and once someone emailed me, plus another 1500 people on their database, without BCC’ing. I was furious, i didn’t want 1499 people getting my email address.

    I sent them an email to let them know, and got an apology, but it’s really not that hard to make sure you BCC!

  2. Janette October 30, 2012 at 8:26 am #

    Hi Greg,
    One other for your excellent list – The verbose email’er’… The girl that uses 400 words when 10 will do. We circle a point for three paragraphs before finally ending with one sentence containing the information you really needed to know. What should have taken 1 min to read has taken 15 minutes and extraordinary amounts of patience.
    And for goodness sake, don’t reply! There are not enough hours in the day for where this leads…

  3. George October 30, 2012 at 8:37 am #

    what about the Hide Behind Email Star – candidates and clients will speak and meet with you when things are going well, but revert to email when tougher conversations occur

  4. George October 30, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    or the Smiley face on every email – I hate the smiley face, the smiley face makes me want to moon my web cam and send it back

  5. Piers Rowan October 30, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    RE: BCC

    “… Keep my address private… please!…..”

    Note top right of article: 🙂

    Seriously though inbox management is probably the biggest killer. I’ve seen many people keep growing inboxes “just in case” – instead of putting mail in a database and deleting it:

    OHIO – Only Handle It Once – Read – Act – Delete.

    Another great way to get work done is to close your email application. Many people – especially in recruitment – pride themselves on customer service and responding to clients. In a high volume JIT temp business this is often required but the downside is that it can be difficult to prioritise when you stop what you are doing all the time to “respond” to each new client or candidate email.

  6. Jo October 30, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    Thanks Greg.
    I get a tonne of emails too. My main gripe is that people email questions that they know don’t have quick, simple answers. I don’t know about you, but I can speak a lot faster than I type. So I’d add: If you want some actual information from someone, pick up the phone and ask them for it.

  7. Alan Allebone October 30, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    I am from the REALLY old school where it is telephone or face to face communications.

    I personally hate emails especially when people use capitals to send emails! How rude!

    I do feel it has taken the personal touch out of our business and communications.

    In the office for example sitting next to your colleagues and they email you!!! Sometimes when they CC and not BCC it ends up on the wrong computer! It is just laziness.

    Yes sometimes infact a lot of times we do have to use emails but it should be used properly and with respect.

    I dislike the “CC King” and “The reply to all”

    No matter if it is confidential or not they just do not think and just blitz everyone!

    I have just come back from China and i did actually need my pc access to see all my corespondence but at least 50% of the stuiff sent to me was an absolute waste of time and money from clients and candidates who just email for the sake of emailing.

    Yes we need technology but sadly it has and is still taking over our lives!

    Nice one Greg!


  8. Eva Wilson October 30, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    My gripe is the MIA (missing in action) responder emailer – when you need to email someone (opposed to calling due to whatever reason) to get a quick approval, response whatever & they know you are waiting & they take their sweet arse time getting back to you! Then lo & behold a week later they respond when THEY’RE ready???? How hard is it to quickly respond to an email – do it there and then. It’s actioned, it’s out of the way, move on! Doesn’t have to be an essay people – just RESPOND!!! Extremely rude & unprofessional & this screams disorganisation to me. At any one time I will only ever have no more than 5 emails in my inbox. The rest is filed away appropriately in created folders in my Inbox, has been responded too or deleted. How anyone manages an inbox of hundreds of emails is beyond me.

  9. Nicholas Beames October 30, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    how about the Cunning Sneaky Emailer:

    The person who slips in important information mid way through an email, like a change to previously agreed terms, disguising it in endless text.

    Nice post Greg.

  10. Kate October 30, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    How about reading the email before you respond? A personal favourite is when you require a decision on something, give 2 options, and they reply “yes”. Yes what? Yes ‘A’ or yes ‘B’? Then you have to waste your time trying not to sound snarly when you went to a lot of trouble to make it easy and clear for them in the first place.

  11. Kevin October 30, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    I suppose email has to some extent taken the “personal” out of communication, but then if you look at the flipside, an email sent can be dealt with at the recipient’s discretion, as opposed to receiving a phone call when they are either not focused or in the middle of something. Unfortunately until we all use video-phones (which will never happen..) we cannot see what the other person is doing! So a nicely crafted email can achieve the personal communication that you want, unobtrusively. But, yes Eva, I agree, then it can become “MIA”!

    But there is really no reason for any “MIA” to be honest, and anyone who doesn’t respond in a timely fashion (unless they’re not available), it can tell you something about them. Unless it’s something complicated, there’s absolutely no reason why a response cannot be given quickly on receipt. I have a “RAQAP” policy with emails (Respond As Quickly As Possible), and if you do that, the Inbox does not pile up. And the constant “Thank you for getting back to me so fast” in the first line indicates that most recipients do appreciate it.

    Like any technology, it can be your best friend and it can be your worst enemy, but exactly how you handle “send” and “receive”, will determine that.

  12. Erin October 30, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    Hi Greg,
    Love this post and much of what you said is so true! BTW i have no idea what is CUL8R.. and only just found out from one of my team members that it means “See you later”… haha guess I am just not Gen Y enough!

  13. Kerry October 30, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    Dislike intensly; emails from the next cubicle when a couple of words direct could achieve a better rsult. Talk to me!!

  14. Frank Morrisson October 30, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    GR8 mssg GS – so tru & I LMAO.

    (yes, I hate SMS repliers as well – please speak English when you reply to me).

    LOL 🙂

  15. Sharon October 30, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    So true!! My personal favorite is when you get an email from a candidate expressing an interest in a job title you’ve never worked, that they’ve “seen listed on your website” and then proceed to name the company of one of your competitors….. hmmmm…..

  16. JC October 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

    Seems like a lot of your posts lately are gripes. When are you going to get back to the posts you used to write back early 2012 with tips and techniques on how to be a better recruiter?

    I personally liked these as I am new to recruiting and a rec to rec suggested I check out your blog. Got some great information when I started reading in June but getting a bit angry lately??


    • Greg Savage October 30, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

      Hi JC,

      The Savage Truth is a personal blog, and pretty much I write about what occurs to me that week, and what I think will be of value to people who read it. They are not all recruiters by the way. A high percentage of my readers are in HR and an equal amount come from the Marketing and Communications industry. I’m sorry you think the tone has changed lately, which is fascinating, because I scrolled through my last 10 articles, and apart from a couple that were promoting conferences I am speaking at, they were all focused entirely on recruitment tips, ideas, insights and trends.

      In relation to the e-mail article, well, actually that is designed to train, coach and inspire people to communicate better – and of course that applies to recruiters as much as anybody else. As an observation, it’s pretty clear that most people don’t agree with you on this particular blog post. It is one of the most popular I have published this year. There have been 2000 readers of the blog today (So far) and many hundreds of shares on social media as well as numerous positive comments on the blog itself.

      In any event, I’m disappointed that you feel the way you do, thank you for your feedback, encourage you to read the several hundred articles on recruitment and I have already published, and hope you keep reading, because there’s a lot more recruitment information to come–when I feel like it.



  17. Alan Allebone October 31, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    Hi JC
    A little dispappointed with your comments about when is greg getting back to writing about recruiting issues as such.

    it is not all about recruiting matters per say, it is sharing anything that is remotely connected with recruitment.

    YOu say you are getting a bit angry with what is being shared now.
    Well JC perhaps if you get like that you maybe in the wrong job my friend.

    I share 36 years in recruiting with you and I have followed Greg for a very very long time.

    Not defending hui but for what he does for the industry is amazing and he is a well respected guy trying to help and share with us his experiences.

    just have a bit of paitience and try and learn from what is shared no matter what it is.

    GOOD LUCK with your future JC hope you can make 36 years in the game.

    Be happy not angry!

  18. Karen K October 31, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    My gripe? Any email conversation that lasts longer than three or four back and forths. Pick up the damn phone.

  19. Shirley Cowcher November 1, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    My concern with all of the email is that once it is in print it is now a record of the organisation and may need to be retained. Some things are better said and not written down

  20. Fiona Scott-Handley November 2, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    I love it when people email me. Then follow it up with a call to check I got their email. And the to check that I understood all of the main points of their email. Which they then discuss at length.
    Because double-handling makes you look busy and we all know busy = important!

  21. Mick BENATEK November 2, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    Hi Greg,
    I share your comments.
    About the fact that companies will replace e-mail. It has already started : you may have heard about Atos. It is an IT consuting companies of 74000 people over 40+ countries. Few months ago, the CEO (Christian Blanc), has announced that e-mail in the company is phasing out.

  22. Greg Casson November 5, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    Hi Greg,

    For me it’s people that still have their ‘sent from my BlackBerry’ or ‘sent from my i-pad’ at the bottom of their e-mails. I must be getting grumpier as I get older……

  23. sam November 5, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    We have a saying at work – Oh Oooh here comes an email Tsunami!. Where a single email turns into an internal chain leter where everyone buys in but NO ONE intends to do anything but send pointless emails. If it doesnt get to that level we say it has created a bit of wave action (still a pointless waste of time but not as bad as a Tsunami). Email the worlds worst communication medium that should only be used to send small amounts of specific information. (ie the mail system will be down in 5 minutes)

  24. Sarah November 9, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    Great article… So much to add, but I’ll keep it short and sweet as to not rant.

    I hate the “Read Receipt Ignorami” – People who send you (often unknowingly) a Read Receipt to an important/critical/urgent email and then don’t respond to you for days/weeks/if ever, but they tell you that they’ve read it and are basically saying “I couldn’t care less”.

    Also, in response to Sharon… I get that too and hate it! It shows you something about the person if they don’t even proofread their cover letters/job ads to respond accordingly. This often indicates: people who don’t do research, people who don’t follow directions, people who don’t listen to directions and therefore can’t possibly follow them (such as stating in an ad that a Response to Selection Criteria is mandatory for your application to be considered), the list goes on… Glad to know this happens to others!

    Thanks again for another great article, Greg!

  25. Ruth Barnes November 10, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    I couldn’t agree more about the SMS’er. It drives me crazy & is really leading us into an illiterate world. In fact I agree with most of what you have said though I think you are being a little harsh about Mr. Always-Reply. Emailers of a certain age believe it to be bad manners not to acknowledge correspondence, whether it warrants a reply or not. So, grant a little leeway to those who are merely being polite, even though it irritates you!

  26. CM November 12, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

    Can’t stand lazy forwarders…colleagues that forward on a chain of emails (which you haven’t been privy to), then expect you to decipher it. Fun.

  27. Beverly Payton November 17, 2012 at 6:34 am #

    Great post! Here’s a couple of my pet email peeves:
    1. The Author (or maybe author wannabe): Who writes on, and on, and on, and on, and on….
    2. The Instant Gratification Glutton: “I emailed you, like 15 minutes ago and you never got back to me!!!”
    3. The Phonephobic. If it’s important pick up the phone, or better yet, show your face.

  28. Sephora November 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    How about the “Ignorant forwarder” – the person that forwards you an entire email trail that contains confidential information between themselves and another entity. For example, I received a great one from a large consulting organisation (my client) who was in turn dealing with a large financial services institution (not my client) outlining its fee structures for the placement of resources into the financial services company. I was able to see just how much the consulting firm was charging for resources that they engaged via my recruitment firm and how much they were making on them! We had a discussion about fees after that!

  29. Stephen Turnock November 23, 2012 at 11:50 pm #

    Didn’t the world just go email mad at its web1.0 peak. Many people today have grown up with email and hide behind it losing the art of communication which hopefully will be replaced with social communication [internal and external] which better aids conversation and positive debate of relevance.

    I notice some people can be absolute tyrants when hiding behind email and come across very abrupt hence do endless damage to a companies reputation as that is a form of on-line brand and is often not regulated like a social policy. Then there are those kind of sneeky email BCC’ ers where a person BCC’s selected emails in a conversation chain that you may not know about and the recipient of the BCC only gets part of the story [the part the sender wants the BCC recipient to hear].

    Fortunately, I think email is the new snail mail and will be cast off to the graveyard of past communications tools along with fax and telex but at the end of the day is just ‘messaging’. Keep it short and simple but attractive enough to encourage people to want to respond and talk in person – hence negates a need for lengthy complex mails which don’t like to be read anyway because people are lazy by default [often confused with ignorant or stupid!].

    On the sending out of emails front, especially candidate introduction or client company introductions – we will need to make them more interactive and mobile friendly too. No point in megabytes of attachments when your audience is now mostly reading it on a mobile device and they cannot see it nor in a simple click able to interact on the subject mater nor link nor connect back by their preferred social channel.

    Thanks Greg for your great posts!

  30. Esther Nagle (@Esthernagle) January 8, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    I worked for a ‘Mr Always Reply’…every single email would be replied to with often just one word, ‘Noted’. So irritating!

  31. Brian February 17, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    What about the CC’ CYA’er? The person who brings in more people to the email just to either:
    1. Cover their ass or
    2. Passive Aggressively trying to show someone else you are doing something they may not agree with

  32. Alan March 7, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

    Hi Greg et al,
    I enjoyed the article and agreed with almost every email gripe and my 10 cents worth is that I really can’t understand emailers that change the colour of the background and use a difficult to read font. What is wrong with a white background and a normal business font such as Arial or Times New Roman or even Verdana if you want to be a little different. For me emails should be short, straight to the point and easy to read!



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