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I…Just…Can’t…*sniffle* *snort* Show Emotion in…in…in…Professional Emails

Today’s topic is about emotion in email.

Once, someone received a professional email with the following statement, “I’m always happy to correspond with women who are smart…” I want you to give me your opinion as to if this is an appropriate sentence? Is it a negative statement or a positive one? Discuss how this could be taken in a positive light or a negative one as well.

How you communicate is very important, especially in email, whether personal or business related. If you misspell words, fail to capitalize the first word of a sentence, or use abbreviations consistently (ie. Shortcuts common like lol, or other IM shortcuts), most people assume you are young, or worse, stupid. This is not what you want in the work place. Also remember that it is very difficult to control how a sentence is conveyed, so you have to look at your language usage as well.

Read these articles:

There is some good information about how to write an email and how to keep it professional.

Lastly, after all that you have read about good emails, I want you to construct an email to me. You have a problem with me. I gave your promotion to someone else and you worked for it much more than the other person. Remember that you feel very emotional about this, so your email can be highly charged, but be careful with your wording. You need to look for a balance where you get your point across. It is OK to convey that you are frustrated, but you don’t want to make me mad either (or I may fire you!). Your email has to have at least 2 full paragraphs and a third paragraph with a closing.

This email should be in your response to me. First, respond to the first part, then write the email.

Your first reply should look like this:

Response to the first part of the blog–was that inappropriate? Why? How could it be worded differently?

Dear Dawn:

Here is your first paragraph. Talk about the raise, the problem, and your question.

Here is your second paragraph. Give me examples of why you should have been hired instead.

Here is your third, thanking me for reading, etc.


Your Name

First Response: Due Wednesday, November 6th by 6pm.This should be at least 200 words.

Second responses (2) are due by Monday, November 11th by 6pm. Don’t just say you agree, tell us why. Also, feel free to critique the writer’s email to me. Find words that you think could be considered overly emotional or harsh or unprofessional; give suggestions for possible changes. These should be at least 75 words each.


22 responses

  1. I personally do not think that you should ever use emotion in a professional e-mail, like Dawn said it could make you look young even stupid. Your employer and fellow co-workers do not want to deal with someone that seems to not be able to handle their emotions. I have learned this for experience, that hard way! I was overly emotional about how my relationship was going in my personal life and I got suspended from work because I could not keep my emotions in check. Needless to say I was broke for a few months from just that one week off of work. It’s the same with an e-mail, you do not want to show to much emotions about things that are bothering you when sending e-mails to an employer or to fellow co-workers. It shows weakness and an inability to cope with ones problems. Even more so when you use text abbreviations, it makes you seem childish, like you are always stuck in Facebook or Twitter mode. I personally don’t have this problem even when I text I tend to spell most things out and try not to show any emotion because it could be misconstrued.

    Dear Dawn:

    I am sorry that you did not see me as the best fit for the promotion in question. I feel as if I was a perfect for the job, the last three weeks I have been helping the person who got the job over me with their work and I feel like I have paid my dues.

    I’m never late, called in sick once in three years and feel that I go above and beyond every day that I am here. I always work well with others but I have great leadership skills. I hope that the next time you are thinking of advancing someone you will defiantly consider me for the position. Thank you!


    Austin Graham

    1. Austin
      I agree about not showing emotions at work. On the other hand you want to make sure you are still a human being. No emotions could pose the opinion that you are an “expletive.” I know this from experience. I tend to not show any emotion in my email. I keep them very short and to the point. This is construed as rude also. It seems to be such a fine line. After your first paragraph I was surprise to see the word FEEL in your email so many times. I would have used words like believe or history shows.

    2. Austin,
      I like your letter to Dawn and how you worded things. It was professional and to the point. I agree with you that you should not show too much emotion in a workplace environment. I do think that a little emotion is appropriate though. It shows that you’re human and as long as you deal with your emotions appropriately it also shows that you’re in control of yourself. If you can handle yourself and your emotions then you will be able to handle other people’s problems as well.

    3. I agree with you about not showing emotions at work but to a certain extent. I also agree with Danielle’s point about still being human. I believe that some emotions should be included in some situations. Your letter was short and to the point. It was good that you did not mention who got the position. I believe that you should not mention the other person by name. It doesn’t seem very professional to me if you were have mentioned the person by name.

  2. Well dawn what she said could be considered because that if anyone else didn’t receive this exact worded sentence they would feel like less of a person to the one that had it said to them, but on the other side of this argument is this person said something that make the receiver feel quite good about themselves. It could be worded like I’m always happy to correspond with people that are into the same thing as me.
    Dear Dawn
    I have come to the conclusion that the raise I was working above and beyond for has been given to somebody else, I would like to know why I wasn’t qualified for the promotion.
    I would like you to reconsider you choice. I have been working hard for you for a while now and when I heard there was a promotion up for the taking I decided that I wanted it so at that moment I started working even harder than I have before and I have made sure to show up on time every single day and I haven’t taken any sick days and I have completed everything that was given to me to work on, I had finished either early or on time. I also have been doing extra jobs around trying to work harder to show that I’m ready for a higher level job.
    Thank you for sharing your time with me today to read what I have wrote.
    Calvin Cook

  3. “I’m always happy to correspond with women who are smart…”
    I do not believe this sentence would be appropriate in any circumstance in America. Here it is “morally wrong” as It implies that the writer dislikes working with women in general, suggests that the general population of women is stupid, and indicates that men are smarter than women. I would personally consider this a negative statement because of those reasons. The only way it could be taken positively is if you read it as praise for the women in question. However, if she’s as smart as this guy thinks she shouldn’t be working with him anyways. He should have said “I’m always happy to correspond with those who are smart…” as it shows that the writer appreciates intelligence.

    Dear Dawn:
    I don’t mean to be rude; however I would like to enquire as to why you gave the promotion to John, instead of me, ma’am. I always get the job done to the best of my ability, and I am great with the customers. I’m respectful towards my co-workers, and even help them out when they’re in a pinch.
    On the other hand, Ma’am, John rarely does his work properly, much less completely. He’s rude, and disrespectful to his customers and his co-workers. Unless of course when you are around, at which point it’s like a full 180, and he’s a beacon of purity.
    I apologize for any inconvenience I may have caused, and I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read my complaint.

    William Klemp

    1. Will
      I believe you made a lot of assumptions about the sentence in question. You did assume that it was said by a male. The blog in fact never stated by whom it was said. I believe you would be surprised how many women would have said that about another woman. Women are most critical of other women. I was not a fan of your letter. It in fact came across as very rude. The use of the word Ma’am came off the page extremely loud. I would not have said anything about the other employee. It shows immaturity. It is as you said “Well, John does………” It sounded like tattling. Stick to you and your strengths.

      1. Sorry to shove myself into this, but I just wanted to mention that I’m glad you mentioned the thing about tattling! I did the same thing inadvertently, naming the employee and even mentioning what he did wrong. Somehow it did not occur to me that it sounded like tattling. I recently read that people who speak English place blame on others more without even noticing, even for accidents, whereas many other languages don’t have this problem. Perhaps that is why it didn’t occur to me? Who knows. Either way I’m glad you mentioned it, otherwise I probably would have never noticed for some reason!

      2. either way, it’s still an inappropriate comment, whether it was a man or a women who said it, and it shows that the person who said it is, at the very least, sexist.

        as for my letter, thank you for being honest, and to be truthful, I don’t think I understood the question right. but yes you are right, it was immature to “tattle” on my co-worker, although im not sure how “ma’am” comes off loud. isn’t that what a person would say to a superior?

        in the end, I have a lot to learn, and as you can guess, I’ve never actually had a job, so i’m completely unaware of the etiquettes and and such that accompany a position in a corporation.

        1. Personally, I don’t like being called Ma’am so much. I’d much prefer it not to be used at all. I like to be called Dawn or Mrs. Olmo. Inserting a ma’am into the letter did sound a bit loud. When I read it, I said the word ma’am in my head in a sarcastic tone. It is hard to convey what you are saying or feeling in text, so it is very important to understand what connotations (other meanings) your words may have.

  4. “I’m always happy to correspond with women who are smart…” is definitely rather inappropriate. It sounds sort of creepy and also fairly sexist. Just sort of…off, I guess. A better way to phrase that could be, “I’m always happy to correspond with intelligent people.” or “It is a pleasure to converse with other intelligent people.” There is no need to point out that whoever that person is talking to is a woman. She knows she is a woman. And there is no need to act so surprised that she is a SMART woman. That suggests that most women are stupid.

    Here is my letter;

    Dear Dawn,

    I have an issue that I would like to bring to your attention. You gave a promotion to Jensen Ackles, and while Jensen Ackles is certainly a great employee, I feel that I deserved the promotion instead. No ill feelings toward either Jensen Ackles or yourself, of course, as I’m sure you had your reasons for choosing him. Regardless, I felt I should address the situation, and perhaps explain why I have that opinion.

    I feel this way because of various reasons. For example, Jensen often slacked off and did his work the last minute, while I worked diligently the entire time. I also took extra hours at times and often covered for others without complaint.

    Thank you for your time and your consideration, and regardless of your decision, I will continue doing my best.

    Yvonne Olmo

    1. Yvonne,
      I really like your letter. It was extremely professional and after reading yours, I feel I could have done a better job on mine. I like that you gave several better ways of phrasing the statement “I’m always happy to correspond with women who are smart…” The only bad thing I have to say is that maybe you should have been a little more demanding in your e-mail. Being shy or cautious isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it can get you looked over if you’re trying to get a promotion.

    2. In your letter it is my opinion that you shouldn’t mention the person’s name that got the promotion. I feel that it not professional. It should be about you and your skills. It’s good that you wish to discuss the reasons why you did not get the promotion. It will give you the opportunity the work on the necessary skills to possibly getting a promotion the next time around. I agree with your opinion about the first statement of the blog

  5. This is a tough subject for me. I find it hard to not take sentences like this personally. In my current job field I have been the recipient of words like these all too often. The sentence in question: Although I am sure it was meant to be a polite compliment, I do not find this particular sentence appropriate. It could have been worded this way: “I am always fortunate to correspond with someone that is educated in this area.”
    Dear Mrs. Olmo
    First, I want to thank you for the opportunity of considering me for the parts manager position. I do not agree with the choice of candidate that filled the open position. My knowledge and experience with this company and my field should be considered invaluable.
    I have been with this company for 9 years. I am punctual and use my time wisely. I have led the department to increase the average monthly sales by $5000 per month and raise the average gross profit margin by 3%. I last received a promotion to parts supervisor and I have been an intricate part in the success of the parts department.
    Lastly, I would like an additional opportunity to discuss the details of your decision. Thank you again for your time.
    Danielle Healey

    1. Danielle, I felt that your email was simple and straight to the point I do not see really anything wrong with it. I like how you gave specifics as to why you thought your employer made the wrong choice in not selecting you for the promotion. Although I thought at the same time you were almost cocky about how much you do for the company, but it seems to be working for you. I do not feel that you were over selling yourself here but there is a fine line between the two. Be sure not to cross it, I know that when it comes to my line of work I tend to be a little overly cocky when I talk to people about working in a kitchen, what can I say I know what I’m talking about but I have the tendency to sometimes step on people toes and they don’t like that very much.

  6. I don’t think that the e-mail “I’m always happy to correspond with women who are smart…” was meant to be inappropriate. It wasn’t politically correct though. I think that is a big deal nowadays and even though I might not take offense to it, I’m sure there are other people that would. In the workplace being politically correct (or p.c.) is a must if you want to be successful.

    Dear Dawn Olmo,
    First off, I don’t want this letter to be taken personal in any way. You are a great boss and I have always admired you. You are one of the reasons I was working so hard for that promotion. That’s what this letter is about, the promotion. I’ve been putting in more hours the last few months than any other employee here. I’ve increased production by five percent and customer service reports are higher than they have been in years.
    I don’t want you to think that the only reason I’ve been working so hard is because off the promotion either. Since I’ve been with the company I’ve always been to work on time and stayed late if possible. I believe in this company and that’s why I’m so upset that you gave the promotion to Gerald. He hasn’t even been here for two years.
    Please reconsider me for the promotion. I want you to know that if you still decide to not promote me I’ll be upset, but I will still work hard to make this company the best it can be. I hope one day I will be promoted to management and help this company as much as I can.

    Jon Lehman
    I.T. Manager

    1. Jon, I feel that even though your email was to the point and simple it feels as if you might be giving the wrong impression with the first part of your email. I can’t tell if you want to take your boss on a date or get a promotion. I would refrain from trying to butter them up too much it could be misconstrued as something unwanted. I would let your boss know how much you enjoy working in that field and at that job, not so much as to how much you like them as a person. You see that I am saying?

  7. I have a secondary repsonse to the frist part of the blog. I raised the “question” to several of my co workers. The response from the male gender were that the sentence simply said the women was smart and should be taken as a compliment. As I only have one female coworker, I posed the question to her as well. She was a bit taken back by it. The group discussion was very interesting and all of the opinions above were considered.

    1. By taken aback by it, do you mean that she thought it wasn’t appropriate? I always find it fun to see how the answers can differ. Most women think it wasn’t an appropriate way to word it, while most men (not all!) think that it should be taken as a compliment. It just goes to show that you have to make sure that the things you write wouldn’t have a negative connotation to the person you are sending the email to.

      1. yeah, this world, or at least our portion of it anyways, is completely focused on “equalizing sexes” and while yeah, the comment could be taken as a compliment, it could also be taken as an insult. if theres one thing I know, its that in order to be successful, you need to have respect for everyone, and while at first glance, the comment might seem that way, it is, in fact, very rude in my opinion.

  8. I do believe that the statement above is inconsiderate and out of text. It suggests that women are stupid and that men are smarter. There is no need to point out the fact the person is a woman it’s totally sexist. I think the appropriate way the statement should read is, “I’m always happy to correspond with people who are educated in this field.”
    Dear Dawn,
    I was disappointed that I did not get the promotion but I value your ability to make the choices that are best for our company. I was hoping for the promotion myself. I have continued to be a very reliable person by showing up to work ready and prepared to accomplish anything that required attention first hand. I believe that I have gone beyond what is expected of me. I understand your reasoning for offering the promotion to someone else, even though they have been here for such a short time. I would appreciate some feedback from you on what I need to do to be a likely candidate the next time the chance for promotion comes up. Any advice or constructive criticism you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
    I know that teamwork is more important than anything else at this time in our company, and I will continue doing my best to make the most of this situation for the betterment of our company for all concerned.
    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    1. I very much like the fact that you asked for advice and constructive criticism! It makes you look professional and it softens the rest of the email, I think. Mentioning that you’d like feedback for the next time a chance comes around makes you sound much more mature and less…well, emotional about the promotion, I guess! You are setting your sights on your next chance instead of just focusing on the promotion you did not get, while still bringing up your disappointment. You sounded very respectful!

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