Are you making these workplace communication mistakes? A recent study had some interesting findings – And here’s Agata from LiveCareer to tell us what to avoid on the job for better communication.
Guest post on workplace communication mistakes
An endless stream of work emails, dozens of notifications, countless online meetings. In today’s labor market, most of us know that too well.
Emails and instant messaging apps dominate our work life, whether we like it or now. With remote work as a new office normal, digital workplace communication is a must.
If we can’t escape it, we better play by the rules. And what are these rules? Keep on reading to find out more about email and instant messaging etiquette.
A recent study by LiveCareer on top business email and instant messaging pet peeves for 2023 uncovered workplace communication mistakes. They surveyed over 1000 employees to identify the greatest sins we commit. Let’s find out what the research revealed.
Email greetings & sign-offs
You have only one chance to make a first impression. Don’t miss it!
The rule also applies to email communication. Greetings matter, and so do sign-offs.
LiveCareer’s experts investigated which phrases evoked positive emotions and which were better to avoid. The top 5 highest-rated greetings included:
- Good morning/afternoon
- Dear [Sir/Madam]
- Dear [your name]
- Happy [day] (e.g. Happy Monday)
The correspondence classics win. They’re the safest business communication option, as you see. Additionally, you can feel free to address people by their first names. 81% of the surveyed claimed they liked it.
Time to move on to the worst greetings now:
- [no greeting]
- Hey there
- To whom it may concern
And let’s have a look at top-rated email sign-offs:
- Thank you
- Have a great day
- Best wishes
- Best regards
Conversely, the worst email-sign offs included:
- [no sign-off]
In workplace communication, it is essential to strike a balance between being too casual and too formal. Stick to email evergreens. As the study proved, people liked it best.
Common business email phrases: The best & the worst
Time to examine respondents’ attitudes toward common work-related email phrases. The top 5 highest-rated ones were the following:
- Hope this email finds you well
- I hope you’re having a great [day/week]
- I hope you’re having a productive day
- Hope you’re well
- Per our conversation
The top 5 considered the worst included:
- Not sure if you saw my last email
- Sorry for the double email
- As per my last email
- As discussed
- Let’s take this offline
Passive-aggressive tones are much easier to detect than you may think. Just have a look at the most hated email phrases. They are usually nothing more than tools to put pressure on someone who hasn’t responded to you yet.
Avoid it. Make genuine kindness your trademark, instead.
Email & instant messaging etiquette
Numbers speak for themselves. Almost half (49%) of research participants claimed emails were their favorite form of communication for work purposes. And, as it’s a savoir-vivre minefield, getting familiar with dos and don’ts is worthwhile.
Let’s move on to email etiquette, then. Below, you can see a list of communication behaviors and a percentage of survey takers who considered them acceptable:
- Using all capital letters for a whole word, sentence, or whole email—70%.
- Having a blank subject line in an email—70%.
- Choosing “Reply to all” option if the issue doesn’t involve everyone copied in—72%.
- Using a vague subject line in an email [e.g. FYI or Hey]—73%.
- Sending a work email at unsociable/odd hours [e.g. 3:00 a.m.]—73%.
- Using the urgent marker for non-urgent emails—74%.
- Using slang—74%.
- Sending your colleagues non-work related messages—74%.
- BCC’ing (blind copy) recipients on work emails—75%.
- CC’ing the recipient’s manager if they’re not involved in the conversation—75%.
- Sending an email without proofreading—75%.
- Using emojis—76%.
- Requesting read receipts—80%.
What’s also noteworthy, 39% of respondents claimed that a response to a work-related email should take 3–6 hours at most.
Time to look at what instant messaging actions irritate people in workplace communication. Again, the given percentage means how many respondents viewed the given behavior as acceptable:
- Spamming with non-work related matters—71%.
- Starting a video call without any notice—72%.
- Overusing emojis—72%.
- Switching off a camera in a team meeting—75%.
- Setting yourself as online/available, although you aren’t working—75%.
- Setting yourself as offline/unavailable when you are working—77%.
- Lack of greetings—77%.
- Not using emojis—78%.
- Sending a bunch of short messages instead of one bigger—81%.
- Sending messages outside normal office hours—81%.
- Not responding quickly, although being available—82%.
The labor market is a fast-changing picture. It shows in many aspects of our work life, including communication. Stay open, curious, and eager to learn. All the time. That’s the best advice I can give.
More workplace communication dos and don’ts
The list of workplace communication sins seems never-ending. Research participants shared what could get on their nerves. Here are some more digital communication dos and don’ts:
- Avoid rambling emails written in one long paragraph.
- Don’t send multiple emails when one would suffice.
- Make sure the links you send aren’t broken.
- Don’t insert images in the main text. It can extremely slow down the recipient’s mailbox. Attach them instead.
- In communication for work purposes, be concise and precise. Vagueness in messages often drives people mad. It wastes their precious time.
- Negative tones in workplace emails are not the best idea. They can be considered unprofessional.
83% of the respondents agreed that online communication was more likely to cause misunderstandings than in-person communication. What does it mean to us?
Well, we’re in this together. Let’s help one another. Try to avoid workplace communication mistakes uncovered by LiveCareer. It will change our work life for the better, trust me.
About today’s writer
Agata Szczepanek is a job search expert at LiveCareer. Her professional insight and thinking outside the box help people from all walks of life find their dream job. Agata’s work has been featured by top media outlets, including Forbes, Fast Company, The Motley Fool, and HR Dive. A bookworm, cat lover, working mum of a three-year-old. Feminist.