Use these 11 words in emails and you'll sound spectacularly rude

Email Etiquette You Should Follow

Sorry, but you don't always come across the way you think in emails. This list, compiled by experts, is actually fascinating.

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

Emails can make things go horribly wrong.

You think you sound like a proactive, efficient, likable sort.

In fact, you sound like a pompous blowbottom who deserves serious emotional correction.

Indeed, I happened upon a list of 11 rude words you should never use in emails.

One isn't actually a word, but it might as well be in this context.

This list was prepared by Outsource Philippines, a company that claims to possess "Intellectual Capital for Total Outsourcing Solutions."

But does this alleged intellectual capital translate to emotional capital?

You decide, as we run through its list of 11 supposed email no-nos.

1. Important.

"Your recipients are smart enough to know how important emails are," says Outsource Philippines. Perhaps no one there has ever emailed the IT department. Still, how do you explain to someone your email really is vital? Put the subject line in capitals? Insert one of those exclamation points that insist this one is urgent? Or hope that your recipient is smart? That is, indeed, quite some hope.

2. Me.

This apparently makes you sound selfish. What, even if it's in the context of, "Stone me, why can't you get this job done already?" No, these list-compilers simply want you to appreciate when the "I" or "me" is understood. Stone me, I don't think we Americans can manage without at least a couple of I's and me's. We're all about our individuality, you see.

3. You.

What? Well, apparently, using this word in an email to someone "makes it sound like they did something wrong." Perhaps in the context of, "You useless lump of post-digested lard." But surely not in the context of, "When do you think you'll be finished on the Ewetree Project?"

4. Need.

The compilers believe this word makes you sound demanding. I think they may need their heads examined. America, for example, is built on needs. We express them at every turn, at every Starbucks. I need a grande nonfat latte. I don't just want one. These intellectual compilers believe you should include a deadline instead of saying you need something. I need to talk to them right now.

5. No.

This is allegedly verboten in the context of, "No, it's in Michigan." Just omit the no, say the compilers. Oh, no. It all depends on the nuance, doesn't it? What do you mean, "No, it doesn't"?

6. Sorry.

The mistake here, as far as the outsourcing intellectuals are concerned, is that you should never apologize in an email. You should always do it in person. But in business, how often do you ever see the people you work "with"? Sometimes the need for apology is immediate. This is because you're sometimes a sorry mess of a human being. Sorry, this advice is a no-no for me.

7. Exclamation points.

I want to have sympathy with this. I don't see the point of these things. The intellectual compilers are perfectly happy with one exclamation point, but not more than one. That's crazy!!!!! In the U.S., we love to get excited!!! We live to get excited!!! When you're excited, you need to make your excitement visually exciting!!!! Sample: We're going on a team-building exercise!!!!!!

8. Actually.

The compilers' advice here reads: "If you don't want to have countless enemies, never use this word. It makes you sound insulting and annoying." What, even in the context of, "You could have blown me over with a gust from your nostril. The idiot CEO actually said that?" Actually is one of those words that actually need to be seen in context and then judged on their merits.

9. Swearing.

Apparently, this is strictly prohibited, because it is always "offensive and rude." I hate to be rude, but no it isn't. It depends on who is sending it to whom and what relationship they have.

10. Fine.

This list tells you to avoid this word because of its difficulty to decipher. It either means "that's good" or "if that's what you want, but it's dumb." I am confused to the point of swearing. Since when has "fine" actually meant "that's good"? "You did fine" is one of the worst compliments you can pay someone.

11. Thanks.

These righteous compilers believe that anything less than "thank you" makes you sound sarcastic or unprofessional. They may actually be right on this one. "Thanks" has a slightly harsh onomatopoeia, as if it were written through gritted gnashers. So there's one thing I'd like to say to the compilers of this list: Thanks.

Related: Important ways the workplace will change in the future

9 ways the workplace will change in the future
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Use these 11 words in emails and you'll sound spectacularly rude

In the past 25 years, one-quarter of companies have reduced the number of layers of management they have, moving toward a flatter, more grid-like management structure.

We've already seen it in companies like Vegas-based e-commerce site Zappos, which eliminated employee titles just over two years ago in favor of a manager-free "holacracy."

"Traditional roles are going to disappear because many workplaces are going to disappear, so the whole structural hierarchical system is going to disappear," said James Canton, PhD, chairman and CEO of the Institute for Global Futures and author of "Future Smart: Managing the Game-Changing Trends that Will Transform Your World." "You'll end up with a system, a network of humans and artificial intelligence, crowd-based intelligence — they're all going to get mashed up."

In May, NPR created a digital tool to calculate how likely it is that certain jobs will be taken over by robots 20 years from now.

Manual-labor jobs appear to be most at risk, while jobs that require empathy, like social workers and caretakers, are least at risk.

A University of Oxford report predicts that "by 2030, let alone by 2050, we'll have lost almost 50% of the workforce to artificial intelligence," said David Price, co-founder of cultural-change practice We Do Things Differently and author of "OPEN: How We'll Work, Live and Learn in the Future."

The Oxford report, which examined sectors most likely to lose jobs, noted that the transportation and logistics industry was particularly susceptible to upheaval thanks to the development of driverless cars by companies like Google.

Even jobs that seemingly require the human touch, like the classroom teacher, are at risk. 

"We're already seeing experiments with this robot in the classroom, and when you ask kids with autism which one they'd rather be taught by, the teacher or the robot, they pick the robot," Price said.

New technology doesn't always mean the loss of jobs. The invention of the printing press actually created a lot of jobs back in the day, said Price, "and we're going to gain jobs as well, but it's guesswork which jobs we'll gain."

Canton predicts a scenario in which humans and robots work side-by-side in the future, where new jobs could include operating artificial intelligence-based technology and old jobs could be augmented by it.

"We're going to need to train people — whether on the factory floor or in a call center — how to use A.I. smarter," Canton said. "So right now the era of using these knowledge bases is kind of cumbersome, but over the next decades artificial intelligence will sense what somebody is asking a customer and will help the human operator provide better service."

It's cheaper for employers, who have an entire world of workers at their fingertips, to hire freelancers as needed rather than full-time employees, as it doesn't involve a lengthy hiring process or require them to offer benefits like health insurance or social security.

Many workers are also starting to opt for freelance employment over full-time employment, giving them more jurisdiction over the hours they work and the jobs they take on.

But Price cautioned that this dynamic has the potential to exploit the labor force. Are workers choosing this route because "they want to freelance, or because they can't find a job?" Price wondered. "When companies are outsourcing so many jobs, people say, 'Well, I might as well become freelance because I can't get a job.'"

If the only reason people will freelance is because companies don't want to hire and pay full-time workers,"What kind of a society are we going to be getting?'" Price asked. "Are corporations going to employ a living wage, or are governments going to have to force that?"

People are living longer, and the cost of living keeps going up, requiring many to keep working much later in life. Younger generations also aren't saving money for retirement the way their parents' generation did, because they can't afford it.

"I think people will live and work as long as they're capable," Price said.

But advancements in medical treatments and remedies to the negative health effects of aging could mean people are more energized and suited to working at older ages, according to a report on the future of work by financial-insurance provider UNUM.

A "future of work" report from PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that people will continue shifting away from the one life, one career mentality — an already observable trend among millennials. Workers will follow their passions as they change, and for many that also means changing careers.

But another driving force behind the phenomenon is a demand for social consciousness: Are companies ethically minded? Do they care about their customers, their environment, their employees?

Corporations "have to have more of a social purpose," said Price, "because people are much more ethically aware now, and people won't invest in companies that don't have a strong ethics." Companies have to prove that they're worth the time of their workers — that they have missions, values that they're invested in, and goals for becoming socially responsible in order to attract and retain employees.

The PwC report also envisions a world in which employers can monitor and screen their employees at a much more advanced level: "Sensors check their location, performance and health," the report states. "The monitoring may even stretch into their private lives in an extension of today’s drug tests."

The Daily Telegraph learned such measures will likely be met with resistance. The British newspaper installed motion detectors in early January to track their reporters but quickly abandoned them after incurring angry blowback. 

"Will companies develop a kind of 'Big Brother' approach to checking on their employees? Possibly, but I think more of them will think they need to be engaged in supporting [their employees]," Price said.

He pointed out how many Silicon Valley tech executives are setting up schools for their kids and their employees' kids in order to provide a better, more tech-focused brand of education.

"These paternalistic philanthropists who want to give their workers housing, keep them out of the pubs, [and] look after their health" may seem intruding or controlling, Price said, but "it will be in companies' best economic interest ... to play a much more active role in that."

Coworking spaces are becoming more and more popular, not just among freelancers and entrepreneurs but also corporations that can use them to relocate employees. Dissolving the traditional office headquarters would enable companies to hire the best candidates all over the world regardless of proximity to a central company hub.

Social media engagement platform Buffer announced in October that it's getting rid of its office and instead letting employees work remotely or from coworking spaces, which Buffer will pay for.

“With an office, if team members are in San Francisco it can be easy to delay meetings until all team members are in the office. The conclusion we came to is that we should always do the thing we can do immediately," said Buffer co-founder and CEO Joel Gascoigne, adding that digital advances like Google Hangouts or HipChat help Buffer survive by facilitating instant meetings, messages, and face-to-face conversations regardless of employees' locations.

Both Price and Dr. Canton imagine a world in which driverless vehicles could eliminate mass transit and transportation jobs, but on the positive side, these cars could potentially eliminate daily commuter traffic, not to mention crashes and fender benders.

"Cars are going to have V2V, a vehicle-to-vehicle capability, and self-driving cars could be preventing a lot of accidents and saving a lot of lives," Dr. Canton said — perhaps as many as 30,000 a year.

This vehicle-to-vehicle capability, technology that lets cars monitor and communicate with each other, would track the speed of each car and facilitate and ease road congestion, making commutes more efficient and headache-free.

But these technological advancements aren't an excuse for humans to grow complacent and expect computers or artificial intelligence to do all the work — on the road, or in the office.

"The preferred future is not one where machines run everything and we just go on vacation," said Dr. Canton, but rather one where human lives and jobs are made easier by the aid and advance of technology. "Our jobs are being changed because computers and networks can do [some] jobs more efficiently than humans can. That doesn't mean eliminating humans, but it means retraining humans to keep pace with it all."


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