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, but 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, like mailing your boss really early or late at night to show them you’re still working. Researchers in Cambridge, UK found that flexi or remote workers who want to appear to be indispensable use ego mail to appear as ‘in touch’ as the regular office workers.

Although it may be viewed as the ultimate power play – a tactic used more by men than women – it should be used wisely. You’ll not only risk losing workplace friends, but you could also alienate important colleagues. 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 by keeping your comments to a minimum.

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Not everything is urgent

Labelling each mail ‘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 you need.

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, the feeling of anger doesn’t last forever, but an angry email does.

Keep it classy

Along with emojis, strings of punctuation marks can also appear aggressive, over-enthusiastic 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.

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