If you guys are anything like me, and have only rarely been held accountable for your actions, then the concept of “email etiquette” will seem to you a very foreign one. Monitoring what you write with an eye toward the receiving party’s professional environment? WHAT? I should be able to express myself wherever and with whatever I please, especially when the “wherever” is your inbox and the “whatever” is Botswanan clown porn with bullet point commentary. I thought we were FRIENDS, DUDE.
But the world many of us live in is not the idealized one we’d always dreamed about, and sometimes… you can’t just share Botswanan clown porn all willy-nilly. You need to follow some goddamn rules! That’s where this little style guide can help.
All of this was first inspired by an email I sent a friend of mine — one that failed to get past the monitoring services at his financial office. My message read, unedited:
Chances are I would be pissing myself at the sight of it UP F-CKING CLOSE, but that is the chodiest chode wave I’ve ever seen. Or my middle name isn’t Barchode [Note: my middle name is actually Barfoed. Close!]. PS — Real surfers use flares.
So I use the “f” word, sure, along with references to malformed sexual organs… but context is everything! Taking into account the above message’s subject, surfing, and the fact that I’m clearly just insecure — I don’t read my message as anything higher than a PG-13. But in the eyes of Morgan Stanley’s profanity filters, which are like the Parents Television Council and National Amish Elders Board rolled into one? I’d just tried to ***** their ***** while ***** all over their *****. Twice.
But again, this is the way things are. You can’t change it! All you can do is learn to play along.
When digitally communicating with the worlds of business and finance you should:
1. Return at least several times to phrases like “per your request,” “for your convenience,” and “kind regards,” all of which convey a sense of professionalism that “lick my balls” will never quite match. They also very efficiently lead the recipient to whatever it is you so desperately need to tell them. You’re writing to those for whom time is measured in money and not episodes of Workaholics — speed is crucial.
2. Do you remember when we told you that speed is crucial? Say your piece and GET OUT OF THERE. If you have to use the word “paragraphs” plural to describe what you’ve just drafted (always draft), then you’ve failed at your attempted communication. SLAP yourself and then start over, this time without so much goddamn purple prose.
3. Leave your feelings out of it. This is business, not Sharing 203 (Spring Semester) at your small liberal arts college. Have something of great emotional value you need to communicate to your friend? Do it at Olive Garden, or a private residence with no one else around — not on company time.
A Goldman Sachs employee who shall remain anonymous shares her story: “Exclamation points are harshly judged. And you may or may not get OWNED, for life, should an emoticon ever be included. …Over a year after working for [GS], the “overly enthusiastic” nature of my emails was addressed and discussed in detail. Happiness is confusing to a lot of people.”
When digitally communicating with the worlds of business and finance you should not:
1. Curse like the jerkoff your good-for-nothing parents with their lack of rules or accountability raised you to be. Maybe that flies down by the docks, or Tim Horton’s, or wherever the hell you work, but not on Barclays’ servers, pal! There are expectations! My own expletive-laden email was flagged and returned to me — an embarrassing insult. But the consequences are even harsher should you be the employee firing off f- and s-bombs.
According to our insider at GS, “…even one outgoing violation is enough to get you flagged by Compliance. A second offense results in a monetary fine to not just you, but your team members. And a third? You might actually be fired.” (Then you can curse all you want, because the YMCA is nothing if not a bastion of free speech.)
2. Allude to or even indirectly reference or joke about such things as terrorism, political rebellion, or — worst of all — insider trading. Pretend that the email you’re sending is like a miniature airport, with its own digital TSA. This isn’t the time to play editor-in-chief of Free Speech magazine. This is the time to keep your head down and say “thank you” as someone manhandles your junk. How else are you going to get to Cleveland? You can tell all the jokes you want once you land in Cleveland.
3. Include a gif. Adults are working.
So there you go — six quick check boxes and you’re ready to write a composed, professional email to your far more successful friend… who lives, you’re hopefully now understanding, in constant fear that you’re going to prank them with Lemonparty and ruin their life. Friends are the f-cking best.