Watch your Back

I just read The Corporate Survivor’s Guide to Email on the Huffington Post. Thank God, at least this isn’t true in my world. I don’t think. I mean … is it? Is that what you meant? Here’s how this Nicholas Weinstock post starts.

Now More than Ever

Thank you!

Translation:  F**k you.  Generally found at the end of emailed instructions, as in “Please let me know, in the future, anytime you’ll be occupying the conference room during an hour when my team is scheduled to use it.  Thank you!”  An expression of outright hatred.  Probable indicator of an assassination attempt to come.

By the way, just to clarify, the asterisks there are mine. He and Huffington Post are not so squeamish.

So I’m thinking to myself, as I read this post, “nah, not my world, that can’t be … but then, the very next thing:

No Exclamation point. Translation: Thank you.

Now that’s getting more interesting. Does he have a point, maybe?

A short response in all lowercase (“no” or “never “or “no way” or “ok” or “I don’t think so” or “yes”, for example) means:

I’m more important than you are.  And busier.  In fact, I’m so important and busy that I don’t have time to write more than a word or two – unlike, say, you, Wordsworth – or even take the care to capitalize the few words that I can manage to eke out as I hustle off to an airport / heliport / underground bunker / secret strategy session you wouldn’t know about / meeting with other more important and busier people than you.  Generally intended as a reminder of your lowly, vulnerable, and tenuous status at the company.  You’re not important or busy enough.  And it just got noticed.  Take steps.

Nicholas offers several other translations: forwarded email with no added message, self-addressed email with you BCC’d, LOL. It’s good stuff. He finishes with the following:

Thank you!

Seriously.  It does:  it means F**k you.  Look back through your emails.  He or she absolutely hates you.  That exclamation point is a f**king dagger.  Watch your ass.

Good post. Is he right? I hope not. But then …

(note: reposted from


  • Mark says:


    Great exploration of the nuances of corporate email. I love the lower-casing explanation. How then to make sense of the former executive of an extremely large Internet company who wrote long-winded emails all in lower-case letters. 😉 I suspect that in his case, it was a different twist: “See how cool I am? I can bloviate without ever hitting the Shift key.”

  • Karen says:

    I am laughing my way to the emailbox. I had no clue I was shouting at people when my caps key was on and I was new to email. I learned quite quickly. LOL – I figured that one was “lotsa luck, sucker” – glad to know I was supposed to be laughing out loud.
    This morning you made me laugh and that starts the day off on the right track. Now, if the Tigers can just whoop the Tarheels it will be perfect!
    And really, thank you.

  • Josh says:

    Great post. I agree completely with the lowercase/typo’d/ungrammatical message = “I am too busy and important to waste my time communicating. You figure it out.” That may not be the intent (I sure hope not), but it does sometimes come across that way.

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