Let’s face it: everyone hates working. You especially. The only people who rival you in your hatred of productivity are your coworkers, and if those idiots don’t pull their weight, it’s all going to fall on you. The quickest way to a work-free day is to craft your emails so that they constantly shift the burden of responsibility away from yourself. Use these techniques often enough and eventually your job description will consist of nothing other than writing a single psychologically undermining email every morning (but don’t tell your boss that).
1. Make liberal use of ellipses
Your resume may claim that you have “excellent written communication skills,” but being explicit in your missives just means that you’ve left a paper trail back to an idea that you can eventually be held responsible for following through on. Fuck that. Who the hell has time for a new project? Not you. If you’re cornered into making a suggestion, use a healthy dose of little dots to shift the onus of interpretation, development, and implementation over to the reader:
Hey…think there needs to be a way to keep track of client suggestions…maybe something to be added to the next meeting agenda…………………….See how they set the tone of “Someone needs to do something about this and I think it’s you…”? Once your suggestion is successfully put into action by someone else, you can go ahead and take credit for having come up with the original idea.
Also note the use of the passive voice. Avoid the use of the active voice at all costs. Active = activities = less time to read celebrity gossip.
2. Start emails with “As you know. . .”
. . . so people feel stupid when they don’t know.
3. Never answer more than one question at a time
If someone sends you an email containing multiple questions, address only one of them in your response. Better yet, answer “yes” or “no” to things that are clearly not yes or no questions. People hate resending the same questions multiple times, so you’re probably off the hook after this. For example, if Monica asks me:
Are client reports due to the sales dept on the day the conference starts or is it earlier? Also, where are the conference docs stored on the communal drive?. . . my response would simply be “I don’t think so, but thanks for asking!” In the future, Monica will email her questions to someone else.
4. Put additional people on your responses
Increasing your pool of recipients to a diverse cross-section of the company increases the chances that someone else will take responsibility for the matter at hand. Think about it: when someone loops you into a random email exchange, the first thing you do is ask yourself, “What does this have to do with me?” If enough people ask themselves that, perhaps one of them will actually come up with an answer! You might even unlock potential in an unlikely place—maybe the night janitor is GOOD at answering your clients’ questions about the web interface.
Note: Don’t cc or bcc them; that can be interpreted as an “just an FYI” and lessens the possibility that someone else will step up to your plate.
5. Use an overwrought signature
A thoroughly distracting signature file can obscure the actual content of your email (or lack thereof), derailing an exchange that might have ended in you doing your job. Why stop at your name and phone number? Throw in a jpg of your favorite character from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, a fun fact about yourself, some ASCII art, and a link to the company website (bonus points if it actually redirects to a Rickroll).
Here’s an example:
J • E • S • S • I • C • A B • E • N • N • E • RDid you notice the misattribution of the quote? Good. That means you’re writing back to me about Proust right now. Not work.
Marketing Information Coordinator in Charge of Marketing Information Coordination
Phone: (510) 555-3769 x 214
Fax: (510) 555-3777
Mobile: (510) 555-6018
“And that's about the time that she walked away from me/nobody likes you when you're 23.” — Marcel Proust, A Remembrance of Things Past