I have a colleague who sends me several emails a day in what I consider to be an 'over-the-top' style.

These are often characterised by

  • Greetings in all capital letters, with multiple exclamation marks.
  • Addressing me using unusual nicknames
  • Use of smileys/emoticons in contexts where they do not fit
  • Overuse of the term 'buddy', almost always used several times in one email, sometimes more than once in a sentence

An typical example of one of these emails would be:

'HEY [insert nickname in capitals here]!!!!!

I need to get this report over to HR by 4pm buddy, if you could get this over to me by then, that would be great buddy ;-)'

I have started to find the tone of these emails exhausting, as I struggle to parse the pertinent content when it is obfuscated by exclamation marks, emojis, etc.

I have told my colleague that I would prefer more business-like correspondence to match the nature of our workplace, but nothing has changed.

Aside, from repeating my request (which I will be doing), how else can I influence correspondence with my colleague to be more professional?

  • 2
    Not what was said.
    – Relocated
    May 28, 2017 at 23:47
  • 5
    @JoeStrazzere OP probably means 'I'm getting sick of reading these kind of mail' and doesn't mean 'exhausted' in the literal sense.
    – cst1992
    May 29, 2017 at 9:55
  • What kind of nicknames? are you offended by these nicknames? May 29, 2017 at 10:36
  • 1
    I had similar issues in the past like "yo brother!". I decided to live with it and I stop pouring any energy into those fights because I personally think there is greater battles elsewhere in our job. Let say, if that is the worst part of your work day, you probably have a good job.
    – Tom Sawyer
    May 29, 2017 at 17:13
  • 1
    The same kind of thing bothers me but for overly unprofessional verbal communication. You can talk to them about it but you risk coming across as a judgmental and otherwise unpleasant person and making them resent you. There was an article in a major publication recently (I wish i could find it) about people who are more open minded and accepting making more money. A good lesson for you and I perhaps.
    – Beo
    May 29, 2017 at 20:24

5 Answers 5


By explicitly criticizing the style and "requesting" different behavior you are putting the person in the position of admitting they're wrong and then "obeying your orders." Many people simply won't do that.

If someone is communicating using an email style that you find unacceptable, the best response is to model the correct behavior in your own communications. In other words, don't address the other person's style at all. Instead use the contrast of your style and his to silently and unobtrusively illustrate the problem. Many people will adapt their style to the environment as long as they can still express their own personalities.

Of course, if you're going to provide an example that means your own communication style must then be impeccable.

  • 3
    You are assuming that his coworker isn't oblivious to other people's behavior. I've seen a fair share of people do stupid things because they didn't stop to see what others are doing or simply not caring.
    – T. Sar
    May 29, 2017 at 11:08

I'd explain my problem with the style of these emails.

You appear to have explained it to us (namely, the extras annoy and distract you, making it harder for you to deal with the emails and probably with your colleague in general), but have you explained it to your colleague?

I happen to be the kind of person who needs reasons for everything. When a colleague tells me: please do this, I prefer things that way, I'll consider it, but I'll be thinking to myself: we all have our preferences, and I have mine. When a colleague tells me: please do this, it really makes it easier for me to do my part, I'll be much more likely to oblige.


It appears that your colleague is chasing you for something, and doesn't feel comfortable just outright telling you

Good afternoon,

HR requires the TPS reports by 4pm today, which means I need that part you're working on by then. Thanks.

Kind regards,

As perhaps they feel that comes off brusque; however, if you would prefer to receive that kind of e-mail then you should simply let them know in person.

Hey colleagueName, just letting you know when you're e-mailing me and need to ask me something, I don't mind if you just get to the point rather than using a bunch of smilies to tone it down.

That said, I think you should just let it go. They are e-mails simply between two people in the business and don't affect clients, so they needn't be the most utmost professional e-mail.

If you object to the nicknames however, you should definitely raise that with them in person that you simply prefer your own name and would appreciate if they could call you only that.


You have told us that you:

struggle to parse the pertinent content when it is obfuscated by exclamation marks, emojis, etc.

But say you've told your colleague that you:

would prefer more business-like correspondence to match the nature of our workplace

My suggestion would be to let the person know that you struggle to quickly digest what is being said in their email, rather than just saying you'd prefer a more corporate tone.

They probably haven't considered the readability of their emails, and if you haven't told them about it they may just think of you as boring.

(but to be honest, smilies and exclamation marks shouldn't really make it difficult to notice the important points, and I'm not so convinced that this is the real issue for you)


Accidentally forward some of these to HR in the footer and innocently ask for "help with the issue below".

(Yes, it's annoying. I have some people who I don't know personally and who are doing support functions for me attach smileys to emails).

  • 3
    I disagree with this advice, as it's petty. The issue should be dealt with by the two involved
    – Tas
    May 29, 2017 at 0:06
  • 3
    This would make you look veeeeery tacky/petty in front of your colleagues. Never do this.
    – Cloud
    May 29, 2017 at 0:09
  • It's not nice. But the OP already expressed to the colleague that he wants this to stop. The way proposed here brings it informally to the attention of people with the power to change it. If a colleague would call be buddy or other nicknames in an email and i told him to stop and he didn't, i would directly bring it to the attention of my boss - completely formal.
    – Sascha
    May 29, 2017 at 9:39
  • @Sascha HR is not there to 'fight for the rights of employees'; they're there to protect the company from problems. This here is a persional issue which doesn't affect the company. So HR won't be of any help here.
    – cst1992
    May 29, 2017 at 9:58
  • People behaving unprofessional to the point that it annoys coworkers and continue that behavior even after being asked kindly are a problem of the company. If it's my professional duty to get emails from somebody then the tone of the email is not a personal issue. And yes, it is the obligation of the HR to protect the employees when not protecting them affects ther performance of the company.
    – Sascha
    May 29, 2017 at 11:07

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .