Everyone does the same thing in today's digital world; read and write emails. The difference is the content, but what if that is similar? A friend requested I oversee his emails while he attended to something urgent. Our jobs differ. I manage a digital company and he manages fictional tv character's investments (ok not really). The emails from his co-workers and customers read like mine, but with different names and topics. Our inboxes were twin movies! His Wyatt Earp to my Tombstone. I noted the characters that I am convinced reside in all inboxes:

The Device Spokesperson

That's you Mr. 'sent from my iPhone' or Ms. 'sent from my wireless device on the Verizon 4G Network.' Unless your signature says 'Sent from my Commodore 64 on my Dial-up modem' nobody cares.

The Grammar Villain

These people are the Al-Qaeda of the English language. Their WMDs are spelling mistakes, shock and awe punctuation and CAPITAL LETTER use. Oddly, Grammar villains are usually people with power over our inboxes -- customers or managers. We always open and respond to their emails. Their power is legitimate and their correspondence usually makes or breaks our day. Making them even more diabolical.

The Grammar Cop

The punctuation police that curse the grammar villain's trespasses, but lack the fortitude to act. They note all the transgressions and do nothing about it. Think Paul Blartt the mall cop instead of Tubbs or Crockett.

The Shepherd Boy/Girl

This person marks all their emails as important. Even the one-word 'Thanks!' email. They clearly didn't read Aesop's Fables in grade school (assuming they attended) because those who did know not to cry wolf too much.


The person who requests a read receipt to every email. Some members of the IRS are more difficult than others. I dealt with a member of the IRS that insisted on written acknowledgement to every email they sent. Read receipts weren't sufficient.

The Friday Afternoon Launch Guy

The person that doesn't email unless they are launching something and need help. Typically on Friday afternoons. Sure, Mr. Friday-Afternoon Launch Guy! I hit refresh every 10 seconds waiting for your email and had nothing else to do before the weekend. I will gladly put that aside and handle your urgent task.

The Cover-Breaker

The Cover-Breaker hits reply-all to emails when they aren't supposed to and forgets to remove an unintended recipient. Take for instance when you correspond with a vendor. The Cover-Breaker replies-all, trashes the vendor, discusses firing them and forgets to remove the vendor from the thread.

The Paper-Trailer

The Cover-Breaker's cousin. They love to take a 1:1 email conversation, add recipients and neglect to remove the previous dialogue. New recipients added by The Paper-Trailer can giddily read up and down the initially private-thread before responding.

The Columnist

An expert in lengthy emails. The Columnist crafts thorough emails to update and track progress. Don't be fooled! Those screenshots, URLs, attachments and paragraphs are defense mechanisms to protect The Columnist from their Kryptonite -- phone calls. You know this person loves long-form posting on LinkedIn.

The Minimalist

They respond to emails like they're late for a flight. Usually their responses are 'Thanks,' 'Call Me,' 'No' or 'Ok.' Nothing hurts The Columnist more than The Minimalist that immediately responds to a 1734-word manifesto with the word 'Thanks.' Clearly acknowledging the email, but not reading it.  They'd be great on Twitter.

Talk-Show Host

The person (usually in HR) that composes emails to 87 recipients who aren't interested in the message. Expect an email from them Monday mornings with news updates, inspirational quotes, personal out-of-office schedule (with itinerary) and holiday weekend greetings. Family BBQ pictures and latest IKEA receipts are also key email topics.

The Subject Stuffer

The person who puts the entire email in the subject and leaves the body blank. You just know this person fills up on the cheese bread at Red Lobster and is full by the time their plate arrives.

Look at the list of people in your email ecosystem. I'm sure these characters are in your email story too. You may even have cross-over stars like a Grammar Villain with Talk-Show Host tendencies.

Hopefully they aren't your boss. 

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This piece of business humor was also featured on The Huffington Post