The 11 Most Annoying Email Personalities


Proper email etiquette is an acquired skill and one we must actively work to maintain. Communicating with someone who lacks this etiquette can be one of the most frustrating experiences for any professional. A few of your most frequent offenders might be coming to mind right now. You know who they are. They’re the people who never respond, always hit “reply all” or frequently fill your inbox with spam.  Simply put, they make communication far more complicated than it needs to be.

From my experience, I’ve identified 11 personalities of poor email etiquette. Some stem from ignorance while others stem from defiance. No matter the origin of the personality, they all produce a similar aggravation when it comes time to communicate with them. How many of these sound frustratingly familiar?

The black hole

You may as well be sending your message in to outer space. No matter how many times and ways you follow-up, you never receive a response. Ever. I mean, why even have an email account?

The never BCC

Blind-closed-copying (BCC) is a glorious tool that allows people to send a message to the masses, without disclosing everyone’s email address to each other. That is, until it is misused. Such as when you get included in a long email chain with people you don’t know – and don’t really want to have your email address. Which leads to…

The reply all

Inevitably the “never BCC” offender brings about the “reply all” guy who copies the entire email list on a response that is only relevant to the sender…or no one at all. Most of us know this disastrous scenario. The reply all email responses keep coming days, even weeks later and not one of them ever really relevant to anyone more than the sender (yeah, the “never BCC” guy).

The reply one

In selective instances where you actually want people to reply all, like when you’re trying to introduce two people or have them work together, one person only ever replies to you. This means you have to constantly forward to the rest of the group so that they’re aware of the response.

The forward with no explanation

This is the person who forwards a message to you with no additional details and it’s not overly apparent as to what’s expected of you. Do you need to respond? Is this just FYI? Forwarding an email takes no effort, at least grant us with a small explanation so we don’t have to send the passive aggressive response, “Is any action needed for this?”

The single word response

You’ll send a long email with various topics requiring some thought and explanation in return, yet this person finds it somehow sufficient to respond simply with “okay” or “yes.” After a while, you’ll try tactics like bolding, highlighting and underlining the exact questions you need answered in detail – but I promise you, even with all that effort, they’re only ever going to tell you that it’s “okay.”

The stream of conscious

These email messages tend to read like a terribly written monologue. They include every thought that pops into the person’s head during his time writing, sometimes even including strange and irrelevant details like what he ate for lunch or that he has to walk the dog tonight. You’ll wholeheartedly wish it was acceptable to respond with “Can you just boil this down into an executive summary for me?”

The spammer

This person clutters your inbox with non-work related emails, sharing those forwarded messages that contain corny jokes, awkward gifs and links to download a video you just “have to see to believe.” Not everyone thinks that video of a dancing cat is hilarious – or deserving of 5 minutes of your busy work day. If only the government would also mandate a required unsubscribe option for these people as well.

The hit and run

This is the person who, for a while, will answer your messages quickly and with enthusiasm. Then, he goes completely AWOL. What changed? What did I do? I get it. Everyone can get swamped with work for a few days or be out traveling. Still, such a drastic 180 in email communication is as hard to rationalize as it is annoying.

The last word

This person always has to have the last word, even when a response is completely unnecessary. Say, for example, you send an email to coordinate a time to meet. Once you decide on a place and time, it’s perfectly acceptable to close the conversation there. Instead “the last word” guy will always shoot back a final email to whatever you say even if it’s merely repeating your exact message. If you have the time and patience, you could really have some fun just to see how many of the same responses you can get from “the last word” guy.

The selective responder

This email personality is most frustrating when you have several important questions for which you need answers. You clearly outline each one (maybe even with numbers or bullet points), yet “the selective responder” will reply with only a fraction of the requested information, offering no acknowledgement of or explanation for the outstanding questions that remain. Inevitably, you reply again (and again) with a narrowed down list of questions until you get all your answers. You may as well be a dentist pulling teeth.

The better late than never

Finally, there’s this wild card. The “better late than never” guy will finally respond to an email you sent months ago without acknowledging the fact half a year has gone by or offering an explanation as to why it took so long. Even odder, this email personality doesn’t seem to realize that his response has little to no value now as you’ve had to move on and find your information elsewhere.

What type of annoying email personalities do you most often encounter? Do you have some more that should be added to this list? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

14 thoughts on “The 11 Most Annoying Email Personalities

  1. The Spelling Doesn’t Count e-mailer. This person is frequently one who doesn’t proof read an e-mail before sending. If the message is so unimportant that it isn’t worth checking, don’t waste the recipient’s time by sending it.

    1. That’s a great one to add to the list – and another one that I’ve encountered from time to time. I’m guilty of some spelling errors here and there, especially when trying to get a quick response or when typing from my phone, but consistent errors or ones that make it nearly impossible to decipher a message are annoying and distracting.

  2. Stephanie,

    Thanks for the post!

    All of these points would be quite hilarious if, alas, they weren’t all so sadly true.

    I’ve heard of late that the new “no” is no answer (by e-mail). Have you heard the same, and am I just a little late/slow on the uptake?


    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Russell! I haven’t heard that before, but I do see modern communication trending in that direction. For as little effort as the word “no” is to type and hit send, I agree that it’s sad that we cannot offer each other direct and timely answers – but instead choose to ignore.

  3. “The Subject Line Only”
    This person ignores the body of the E-mail and poses their Thought/question/whatever in the subject line only.
    I didn’t even know these people existed until recently…. now I come across them almost every day.

    1. Another great addition to the list! I have also experienced the “Subject Line Only” as well. It’s odd to open an email with a blank body and then realize the information is all jammed into the subject line. Sometimes these messages even get caught in my spam filter. Yikes!

  4. The Forwarder: The one who forwards email threads without redacting the people it was earlier sent to. I don’t want my email address shared with your office, your family, your dancing cat fan club or 15 subsequent forwards, just because I sent YOU something. Proper etiquette is to delete previous recipients’ addresses.

    The Shouter: How can there be so many people left who don’t know that ALL CAPITALS IS THE SAME AS SHOUTING!!!! (as is, also, excessive punctuation)

    The Trendy Slanger: Dude – really?

    The Guesser: Me, if you give me not quite enough information to know what the &^%!# you’re talking about and/or want. Which means I have to ask, and you might or might not elaborate.

    The Emoticoner: Just don’t. Ever.

    The Echo:
    Thank you too!
    You/re welcome!
    See ya soon!
    Hope so!
    Bye 2U2


    1. All great suggestions, Dan! I think the “Forwarder” might fall in line with the “Never BCC ” and the “Echo” is similar to the “Last Word” categories I covered. The shouter is a great one! Also, the person who overuses exclamation marks. I might be guilty of this one (!)

  5. WoW, love it! Im glad im not the only one who has experienced that. What about the ”No subject line” which make it really hard to follow up, especially when all messages are like this. Oh and ppl who forget that they r in a professional convo 😛 or forget the attachement 😉 (sorry in advance for mistakes, im a frenchy!)

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