OPINION – In this digital age of communicating with your co-workers predominantly through written electronic mail, it’s tough to walk the line between professional and so dry you sound rude. Some of us turn to a friendly “haha” to make it clear we’re not mad, and a pretty fun person – not knowing that it may, instead, make you sound like a giggly idiot.
It’s tempting to worry too much about your co-workers’ opinions of you, but a new study has found that most of us don’t worry enough and are considered much dumber than we’d hope. This is only exacerbated by attempting to seem friendly or human in work correspondence.
When interviewed for the study, a sample email ending in a “haha” was presented to 14,156 bosses, mid-level employees, and people who are the most attractive person in their office. The overwhelming boss response was that the writer seemed “a little green” and “too excited to share details about their life in the office kitchen.” A mid-level employee was most likely to consider the writer “a dum-dum unworthy of my time,” and the most attractive people in each office almost unanimously responded, “Who?”
The safest takeaway from this research is that our normal, everyday anxiety is not a waste of time and needs to be intensified, and all efforts to connect on a personal level in the workplace should be abandoned. You can have fun with work communication – but privately, and quickly delete it.