Tag Archives: email

COVID Alters E-Mail Language

As the pandemic continues, people in the business world have adjusted the way they correspond in a way that acknowledges the collective angst associated with COVID-19. Gone are exclamation points to indicate enthusiasm and emojis to show light-heartedness. In their place are heartfelt words that reflect the danger and upheaval the pandemic has wrought all over the world.

Public relations experts such as Benjamin Schmerler in New York say that any communication today should at least acknowledge the “collective vulnerability that people feel.” He adds that because so many employees are working from home, the ability to communicate casually in the office isn’t possible, so written communications such as e-mail, texts, instant messaging, and even Slack messages should include a personal touch.

Gretchen McCulloch, the author of Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language,explains that COVID-19 has created a shared reality that workplace communication reflects. Likewise, Prof. Naomi Baron says that people are more deliberate when they write, which leads to text that divulges more personal and truthful remarks. This phenomenon is exacerbated by the fact that many people are not working at the office, so sharing personal touches—such as a blooming backyard garden—has become gracious rather than extraneous.

This in no way means the writer should wax eloquent or be verbose, says Brian Metcalf, the founder of a digital marketing agency. He tells employees to remove jargon and to message concisely—no one wants to wade through lengthy messages. This fundamental principle of business communication remains in effect today.

One element all the experts agree upon is to omit blatant enthusiasm. Grinning emojis should be replaced with a thumbs-up to acknowledge receipt of a message. Carefree smiley faces and cat pictures show a level of tone-deafness unacceptable in the current situation.

The bottom line is to show sensitivity without oversharing the personal. At the same time, to pretend that it’s life and business as usual can make the recipient of a message feel disrespected.


  1. Why do experts suggest it’s important to mention health and wellness in professional messages today?
  2. What are some softening phrases you might use at the beginning of an e-mail or text message that are not clichéd?
  3. Which emojis should you avoid in professional communication, and why?

From The Wall Street Journal


Workers Highly Value E-Mail, Pew Reports


March_shutterstock_127894817Despite annoying spam, splashy corporate hacks, and constant online distractions from social media, e-mail continues to play a major role in the day-to-day life of American workers.

A recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that e-mail is especially important to executives, professionals, business owners, and clerical workers. They consider e-mail to be the main communication channel critical to their jobs, a finding unchanged since e-mail emerged a generation ago. In fact, the study calls e-mail workers’ most important digital tool.

The study, which sought to determine the impact of technology on American workers, found that over half of jobholders also highly value the Internet. These workers can be found in diverse situations: large enterprises and small proprietorships, urban and rural locations, and high-tech as well as non-technical industries.

Interestingly, the report found that those surveyed favored landline phones over cell phones, although in smaller numbers. Only 24 percent considered their smartphones “very important” to doing their jobs, while 35 percent say landlines are “very important” to their work.

The survey also disclosed that social networking is largely irrelevant to a majority of workers. Only four percent said social networking is important to their work.

Technology—specifically e-mail, the Internet, and cell phones—has had a profound effect on Americans’ work experiences. Over half of those surveyed claim these tools have expanded communication, improved job flexibility, but also increased the amount of time they spend working. Thirty-five percent told researchers that they spend more time working as a result of cell phones and the Internet.

Contrary to popular thought, the majority of workers do not think using the Internet has decreased their productivity. Only seven percent claim the Internet has made them less productive, while 46 percent say it has made them more productive.

An equal number say the Internet has not affected their productivity at all.

This finding flies in the face of many pundits claiming that digital tools are a distraction in the workplace.


Were you surprised to learn that e-mail still plays such an important role in the workplace? Post your comments!