At least half of my daily communication happens over email. It’s how my friends send me funny YouTube links, my editors assign work and my father calls me out for not picking up the phone. (Sorry, dad.) Wherever I go, whatever I do, it’s the one place where everyone in my life can reach me — although no one approaches it in quite the same way.
I know people who take three weeks to answer a simple yes or no question, and others who feel the same query merits a six paragraph response. Some of them ignore the subject at hand completely and send a cat video instead. But rather than get enraged at this maddening, completely illogical exchange (!!!), I try to take a deep breath and see things from their side of the keyboard. Sound familiar?
Here, a handy guide to all of the contacts in your inbox:
The Emoji Addict
The crying-laughing face may have won “word of the year,” but the Emoji Addict’s salsa dancer, Santa, dragon, ice cream cone and bowling pin icons make no sense. They definitely did not answer your question about that PowerPoint presentation, nor do they ever show up in your email when reading by computer as opposed to phone.
Worse than being assigned the bad partner in group projects, the Emoji Addict is almost impossible to communicate with…unless she’s a genius in productivity, of course, and this is the new-new shorthand.
OMG, yasssssssssssss!!!!!! She loves that idea!! And exclamation points!!!! Sometime this makes you feel like some sort of brunch-planning savant, but usually just annoyed.
At least you know she’s not mad at you.
The Selective Listener
It took you 45 minutes to draft a message to her. The finished product included four paragraphs with three clearly articulated questions and bullet points.
She, on the other hand, took two days to write back and answered only the last question…in an incomplete sentence. Tip: Scream into your pillow before writing back.
The Pulitzer Prize
As in, she might be trying to win one. Her emails take your entire lunch break to read, filling up valuable online shopping time with a very detailed description of her dog’s latest bout of colitis.
Every once in a while, they’re worth it for the gem-of-a-link at the end. Mostly, however, they make you empathize with the Selective Listener’s selective responses.
The Passive Aggressive
You’re all for proper grammar, but would it kill her to use a measly colon-x-closed parenthesis combo in addition? All those perfectly placed commas and periods have you convinced she’s pissed — and you tend to overcompensate by turning into the number two lady on this list.
You know this girl. You like this girl. And you know this girl likes you! But getting her to answer your messages — ever — is akin to finding a Mansur Gavriel bag on sale: impossible.
The Balancing Act
While she gets back to you promptly, it’s not so soon that you feel pressured to immediately reply. Her sentences are complete and offer a few well-placed smileys sprinkled throughout. All the key information you need is there, with maybe just one random tangent to keep things interesting. Not only do you look forward to her emails, but they help move your own to-do list along. Wait, you don’t know anyone like this? Yeah, me neither.
Illustrated by Clare Drummond.