In my day..
...we'd be hung, drawn and quartered for SCREAMING EMAILS IN UPPER CASE. And that was for a first offense.
Paris, because only a dumb blond could think that this sort of ocular abuse was o.k.
A NZ woman who was sacked for sending "confrontational" emails in red, bold and CAPITAL LETTERS has been awarded NZ$17k (£7,150) for unfair dismissal, the New Zealand Herald reports. Financial controller Vicki Walker was shown the door at ProCare Health back in December 2007 for her lack of netiquette. One particular email …
Wouldn't have affected me. I have HTML turned off in my email client by default, and so probably would never even have seen the red or the bold.
Now all it needs is for someone to create a font with all lower case and no capital letters ..... probably not me, though, as it's marginally less effort to ignore the capitals.
I'd have fired her, but I'd have done it properly (with warnings beforehand)
Although some people seem to have real problems putting a sentence together in an email. Most of the time it's because they are assholes who don't see your comprehension of their incoherent email as something they need concern themselves with - You know the type.
It's the reason why "must be a good communicator" is on every job description.
Just as "must be able to use a computer" and "must be able to write coherently" and "must be able to breath, not through mouth" should be but never are.
Or was it her failure to grasp basic grammar or word order?
"TO ENSURE YOUR STAFF CLAIM IS PROCESSED AND PAID, PLEASE DO FOLLOW THE BELOW CHECK LIST" indeed...
Or, maybe they were worried that, using CAPITALS she was a Lagos lass 4(1)9'er, oh, my darling Clementine. Lost and gone forever, from the company's point of view.
If people are not doing the right thing you have a quiet word, educate or train them. If they persist then you start giving official warnings. If they really cannot do it right then you fire them.
It's ridiculous to expect change if no one points out the problem and gives a chance for improvement. Equally ridiculous to expect things to be done a certain way if people aren't aware of what that certain way should be.
Her employers are guilty of letting the problem get out of hand and then going OTT in dealing with it, and the award reflects that.
..a lot of companies were hooked up via Mail Gateway Servers (pre-Internet boom down here in my part of the colonies). MS-Mail was the de facto standard at the time.
Anyway, one lady from a company e-mailed an ad for selling something like 2nd hand furniture/car/whatever. And selected everyone from the global mailing list as recipients. Which ensured that said e-mail was delivered to 100's of companies in the region and 1000's of users.
I hand crafted a response, delivered via an open relay, that requested her to attend a disciplinary hearing where she could potentially be fired for gross misconduct. Suggested that she bring legal council with. Provided date and time and venue for hearing. And added all the extras to make it look like it personally came from the CEO's offices for the company she worked for. Even the SMTP headers were hand crafted.
Wish I could have seen her face reading that mail.. would have been a small measure of satisfaction for having to deal with the never-ending spam that started with the first Dave Rhodes letter that hit may QWK mailbox decades ago and never ceased since...
Perhaps if she was a top poster they were going to fire her and then give her the warnings. That would fit the crime.
I wouldn't have noticed the red or bold either, because I'm another one that filters out HTML. On seeing the all-caps, I'd have hit delete and not bothered to read it.
Anyway, as any fule should know, the bin in the keyboard containing capital letters is smaller than the one containing lower case, so excessive use of the former is likely to mean the keyboard needs refilling a lot sooner.
Must be more to it. What the employer should have done is warned her and then sent her on a remedial course - if her behaviour did not improve after that then there is grounds for dismissial as they could have claimed they "took every option available to work with her" (HR speak for "we did the minimum to avoid being sued"). There must be more to the story on how she was disruptive seeing as shouty emails aren't usually such a massive problem compared to maybe workplace bullying, for example. My guess is she got on the wrong side of someone in a position of authority and they looked for the first petty excuse to fire her.
Some websites say other employees were complaining about her and she as trying to see the complaints. Looks like her face didn't fit so they canned her rather than deal with the issues, and instead got a kicking when she decided not to back down. Neither side wins - Procare will be thought of as a bad employer, but Ms Walker will now have to go to any future interviews knowing the publicity will have labelled her a troublemaker.
I had an employee who knew the organisation's rules inside out. He pulled just about every stunt there was - that is, any stunt that was *not* a sacking offence - the only other things that could happen were counselling, re-training or withholding a pay-rise (and unfortunately I couldn't change the rules). Since he was already on the highest pay scale for his position, basically, there was nothing anybody could do. He was a staunch union member and loved to remind everyone of that fact at every opportunity.
A few of the stunts he regularly pulled were pointless ALL CAPS e-mails, writing/signing document distribution cover sheets in huge red texta, leaving pointless voice-mails for people, deliberately leaving *many* typos in correspondence (he could write very well when he wanted to), and, on his particularly difficult days, asking permission for *everything* just to be a pain in the ass. Oh, and he loved his frequent compo claims, too.
As you might have guessed, this was a public service organisation where, as long as the *minimum* job criteria were still met, he just couldn't be fired or transferred.
Since that experience, I have concluded that being able to fire someone is a very good thing - even on fairly flimsy evidence. Personally, I'd be happy with a law that requires a single written warning, and if that or any similar "offence" occurs again, they're gone.
I suppose this lady should have been given a warning. But if she refused to change her ways - show her the door.
While those who constantly use all caps and regularly send things in silly colours do annoy me -- the sentence quoted looks like it is important and helpful so, though her highlighting may have been a little extreme, it was done to help. Perhaps she should have sent it out in 9pt grey and told people to "read their fucking email" when their expenses weren't paid?
Though, admittedly, if I were her boss I'd have a quiet word about netiquette.
This lady seems to have received a bit of a lambasting over her grammar as well as her truly unfortunate lack of netiquette but her email subject line is, at least, entirely grammatically correct. There is nothing wrong with using "I/we/you do follow" as a declension the verb "to follow". Also there is nothing wrong with the order of the phrase "the below check list" as in this case, "below" is functioning as an adjective.
I do, however, agree that her phrasing is a little unusual and could perhaps have been arranged a little better, at least in order to avoid the slightly odd and confused-sounding combination of the words 'below' and 'follow'. I would maybe have gone with something like the following (ha!) sentence:
"To ensure your staff claim is processed and paid please observe the following the check list".
Thought she worked for my company.
My boss documented me on a review for having unprofessional e-mails. He also told me he found it un-necessary to tell me what is was that made them unprofessional (at least I had that conversation on tape) and I'd never had any warning previously. When H.R. decided not to rescind the statement, I photocopied an e-mail sent from my boss about people paying to have sex with animals on my next review (sent to me after my review and it was the most ironic out of the dumb stuff he'd constantly send). The same boss also uses semi-colons in place of commas and frequently has to explain e-mails because they don't make sense. At least it's not as bad as the supervisor's wife, she constantly uses the important icon for all of her e-mails so no one forgets her status. At least the brother in-law-in-the-same-office knows how to e-mail.
...about this story, apparently the firm involved had no email policy or style guidelines in place, so there wasn't really any company policy being violated. If you want to fire people for borderline bad behaviour, you have to define what constitutes bad behaviour. Otherwise you are just asking for an unfair dismissal judgement.
Is it just me or is anyone else massiveley annoyed by the whole "Americanismed" way of saying "I am going to..."
You usually get it in tutorials for stuff and it usually goes like this:-
"So what I'm gonna do, is I'm gonna go right ahead and I'm gonna [do some thing]"
GAH! It just makes me want to poke out my ear drums, it's almost as bad as "What I need for you to do" and the sentence (that in my opinion) should be banned under some hate crime law which is .... "do you want to see if you can you do that for me?" - No I fucking don't want to see if I can do it, fuck off!
An excellent demonstration of the rule that any post about grammar must contain one or more grammar errors more glaring than the one under discussion. "The following the check list" indeed. Well done sir.
But I do agree that there's nothing wrong with the sentence. "Please do follow" to me sounds archaic, but that actually makes it seem more polite. And "the below check list" is a bit Germanic but not actually wrong as far as I know.
Beautifully put, Sir. Hoist by your own petard.
<<An excellent demonstration of the rule that any post about grammar must contain one or more grammar errors more glaring than the one under discussion>>
Shouldn't that be ...one or more grammatical errors...?
Vent your spleen at that, Sunshine!
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Having worked for people like this in the past, I would not have been all that sorry to see her go. If a managerial type has to be held to a minimum level of education and to a minimum level of communication skills, then she fails the test and should go. The problem is that there are probably many more feckless people in the organization that should have gone first.
I used to have a manager who (unintentionally) wrote her emails in Yoda-ese, and it was a never ending source of amusement to us to repeat them in Yoda's voice. She took it in pretty good grace -- it was just the way her brain worked. Down deep, she was a very talented and intelligent IT manager, just that her personal demons kept her from being as effective as she could have been.
However, this woman sounds like a first class tin pot "look at me, I'm in charge" hitler. I'd have canned her, too, for pissing off the troops to the point where they don't get any more work done while they're standing around the water cooler bitching about her. The root problem is that the higher-ups have no sense of creativity when it comes to firing skills. The firing gimme here is that they could have found a minority/opposite gender employee, asked him if he/she felt threatened by loud, shouting voices, reminded him/her that all caps emails are considered shouting, and then fired the manager for creating a threatening environment. People get fired all the time for creating threatening environments -- new age psycho BS that it is, it works just fine for cleaning house, and wouldn't have made the papers and created a PR nightmare that will cause more managerial heads to roll. I still can't figure out if that's a good thing or not.
In cases like this, you have to ask yourself, "What would Blackbeard do?"
Maybe Clippie could pop up when I start typing in capitals and offer 'It looks like you're typing a shout. What volume would you like to set your shout at?' A volume slider (from 1 to 11 of course) would then format the mail automatically. 1 would equate to e e cummings-style all lower case. 11 would be red, block capitals, 72pt Comic Sans with an attached wav file of Motorhead.
Now that you have all finished barbacueing the poor lady for her use of ALL CAPS, why don't you actually have a look at the email itself, yes....I know, actually look at the evidence first, novel idea aye? Just to help, here is a link to an article with a reproduction of the email in question.
First thing we notice, it isn't actually ALL in CAPS, just the last sentence, ibviously to make it stand out more, quite likely she has had people ignore her previous emails, or when she askes them why they didn't do as she asked probakly mumbled soemthing like "oh I didn't see it hidden down there at the bottom."
The other thing we notice is that the only bit of colour used is in the date and time, obviously an inportant deadline if its in red, should make people notice this time aye? Well they did notice it, enough to get her sacked!
All in all as a confronting email it fails on several points, for a start it contains the word PLEASE (yes in caps I must admit) and any email that contains the word please is not very confronting at all, and there are NO SWEAR WORDS (either in caps or as far as I can tell in the small writing). As an excuse for sacking someone it seems to me to be just that, an excuse.
I know it's considered to be 'shouting' when capitals are used - at least that's the convention, but do grown-ups seriously get all upset when they receive an email that's in capitals? Do those who are reduced to apoplexy when faced with an overabundance of upper case characters have this vision in their heads of someone actually shouting at them? (I'd like to emphasise the word 'actually' here - but if I put it in capitals I'm afraid some eejit may get upset because I'm 'shouting', apparently).
Text in capitals is a bit of a pain to read, admittedly, but I'm at a loss to understand why people get so upset. Lord only knows what these fragile types would do if someone really did shout at them.
There must be more to the reported story than this person simply firing off a few emails in the wrong case - surely to God? Personally, I'd have fired those people who got so 'upset' by thinking they were being 'shouted' at - they're the over-sensitive numpties who need dealing with.
[4 A J Stiles] Rubbish. If it bugs you that much, have a word with the "offender" and/or use a script to put it right. A single line of perl should be able to make you a happy camper.
I have a colleague who whines in full cap mode about someone who sends him 18 point font e-mails. He is so busy being cleverer than everyone else that is has never occured to him he could hit ctrl-A and resize the damn writing before reading (a three keystroke operation with our e-mail client), and it would apparently choke the very life from him to pick up a phone and alert the "offender".
The office manager at my place sends out "ransome note" e-mails, designed to make creative use of the colour palette and font selections. Does this bug me? A bit, but rather than obsess about it I simply wrote a filter to file his blithering somewhere until I'm in a receptive mood and can read his stuff as comedy.
But the salient point here is that the annoying woman in question received no warning that her behaviour was considered a disciplinary matter.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that if you don't tell someone they are the root cause of a perceived problem, you shouldn't expect tham to fix it. This isn't Star Wars and no-one can use "The Force", though it seems more and more people expect some sort of spontaneous behaviour modification in today's world.
I have to wonder when we in the western world decided that talking to each other was unacceptable.
You've got to be more creative, dude. There are two ways you can go about the grammar issue.
1) make a drinking game out of it. Every time the phrase is uttered, have a chug.
2) mentally do this operation:1,$s/you know/I am an idiot/gi
Either does wonders. The nice part about the drinking game is that eventually you'll kill enough brain cells so that the phrase isn't so obnoxious.
Or, if Clippie could be superclassed to invoke an SNMP-managed cattle prod every time the phrase comes out. That would be righteous fun, and very likely something Blackbeard would have done!
"Text in capitals is a bit of a pain to read, admittedly, but I'm at a loss to understand why people get so upset."
If you only think about all-caps as lower case + 32, then sure, it's nothing. To most of us, it's discourteous, impolite, and unprofessional. Does that make better sense?
"Lord only knows what these fragile types would do if someone really did shout at them."
Often, that's part of the issue - these people would not behave this way in person - making their actions cowardly, which many people would also find irksome.
Sorry all BUT I FAIL TO SEE THE RELEVANCE OF THE WHOLE THING!
First, to fire someone because of writing emails in capital letters - are we now addressing and judging the value of a human being by such trivialities ? Is that it ?? Good one, lower case, bad one CAPS ON ? Who the f*ck has the right to fire somebody for such a nonsense!
She should have received much more in compensation then those few bucks.
And, unless I totally and completely misunderstand (and interprete) some of the comments already made here, above, I would suggest to some of you guys to reassess your positions and values.
many of us have taped signs on people's moniters saying
"DO NOT EVER OPEN AN EMAIL ATTATCHMENT YOU F**KTARD" *
Just after spending 3 days cleaning the system out of the latest virus
Or, more usually, just before having to shut the network down again, and spending another fun filled weekend killing another virus that arrived via an e.mail attatchment.
* or a message to that effect
Grenade... because some PC users need it... shoved right up where only their doctor and customs officials should dare to probe
It's all the fault of MIME, which ushered in our dark and tortured era of email with color, font styling, images, and the like. Back in the Good Old Days we only had block capitals and the odd ASCII punctuation mark to augment our feeble e-prose, and It Was Good.
Even full-on B1FF wasn't half so obnoxious as the typical color-enhanced email.
And while the latter are generally MIME multipart with a plain-text part, many people rely on the color channel for carrying crucial data - I've received plenty of emails with comments like "please see the part in red". So simply disabling non-plain-text is not, alas, always an option.
How many of you commentards would like to have to provide an acceptable reason for resigning your job? Being forced to stay on rather than say merely, "I quit."?
Why shouldn't it work the other way? My employment is covered by a contract (a written one at present, but it has been oral or implied in the past) between two parties each with contractual rights and responsibilities. I have agreed that absent an easily recognized exigency I will provide two weeks notice of my intent to terminate my employment. Likewise, my employer also will give me notice in advance in most circumstances.
The key point is that neither one of us is required to provide a reason, either contractually - or ethically, IMNSHO (is it OK to use all caps in an abbreviation?) (Oh, my! Is it all right to capitalize OK?)
The employer of this person should have had only to say, "You're fired." Why in the world is any reason necessary?
These people need to be drug out into the street and shot! It's the damn IM programs that started this! That and the god forsaken lands of 4chan... People just need to get it through their think skulls that sending a work e-mail saying TIME SHEETS ARE DUE TODAY OR YOU DONT GET PAID LOL!!!11!11!1oneone!1(cos(0))" is not ok! Ever!
<<Not as much as "You know">>
Don't I know it! Having been educated by an English teacher who was a total pedant (and I loved his lessons for it) I then went to Technical College (The Butts, Coventry - now there's a name to conjure with) where I was taught Computer Science - on a mechanical TTY, so I understand why *nix commands are sooo short, typing hurt! But he was the worst pedant - brilliant, nonetheless - who hated the expression.
He explained to the class, as he didn't have crystal balls, how could he possibly "know what I mean?".
I'm with AC 11:48 and Matt Bryant. There was undoubtedly much more irritating behaviour behind this. Nevertheless, anyone in management with a clue knows you warn first, and you document them. Progressive discipline is also expected.
As for me, when I'm flagging spam on craigslist, I include anything in ALL CAPS. Not that it does much good, but I suppose it makes me feel better.
OK, a few clarifications....New Zealand is not what the septics call an "at will" country, and the employers do love to advertise jobs as either casual, contract, or permanent, so the employers do end up with some obligations about notice and having good reason to terminate the relationship. For casual jobs this is of course minimal, a contract will normally have the duration built in, and a permanent role would logically be indefinite in its duration, barring misconduct etc. This is reasonable in view of the different powers inherent in the relationship, eg it is generally hardly one of equals. However, there is not that much bias in favour of the individual, quite the opposite if anything. For instance, had this employer chose to he could have simply made the position redundant. That does not mean that the particular work is not to be done any more, it just means that the work is being distributed differently across roles in the organisation. Meanwhile the employee gets four weeks notice and a redundancy payout. The latter would depend on the length of service, but would not be likely to exceed a quarter of what they had to pay in this particular case. Otherwise, they can give you warnings and then dismiss you if behaviour does not improve, or for serious matters like theft can dismiss you on the spot...but for both those cases they need to have their ducks in a row to cover possible challenges.
I do find the "shouting" convention interesting, because from a readability point of view all caps is more like mumbling...it is harder to follow and more likely to be ignored. This is despite being old enough to have received the odd telegram and telex message, which of course were always all caps due to the absence of anything else much. But in any case, I don't see anything about this particular example which is so egregious as to justify dismissal. Reading between the lines it would appear that there is probably fault on both sides. She may well have been a bit annoying to other staff, but unless the boss can show that he has tried to deal with this properly that is not going to cut much ice with the court.
At my last job every two weeks we'd get a SIGN YOUR TIMESHEETS reminder. Yes, people use caps when stating something that people often forget. Maybe it's a little annoying? But no more annoying than, say, attaching a crappy gif to every message you send because it just looks so cute to have a background that makes it look like you wrote your email on old parchment. This is either an incredibly touchy person, or somebody who lied about the reason for firing - either way, big time asshole.
As for the firee: "I am a single woman with a mortgage, and I had to re-mortgage my home and borrow money from my sister to make it through. They nearly ruined my life." No, you "nearly ruined" your own life by failing to plan for temporary financial problems. Sometimes people lose their jobs. This is a risk we have to plan for to some extent. If it happens and you immediately don't have enough money, MAYBE YOU COULDN'T REALLY AFFORD THAT HOME IN THE FIRST PLACE.
Been working happily for same employer since leaving school 'til we got Outsourced to some bunch of money-grubbing cowboys from across the Pond. Built up a nice package through "time in service" and was amongst highest-paid (including Managers) at our site out in the sticks.
Got TWEP'd due to having 'non-work-related' stuff on my work PC despite a Client policy that specifically allowed non-work-related stuff on there as long as it didn't interfere with our work, and the fact that my colleagues had far worse stuff on their machines (pr0n, illegal downloads, pirated and cd-cracked multiplayer games and more)...
Even though I was found guilty of Gross Misconduct and fired immediately, my colleague who "found" my "hidden" files got a promotion and a payrise, and the worst offender of them all was suddenly given permission to leave under the Company's Enhanced Severance programme, with a huge payoff and a glowing reference despite being refused due to 'client requirements' every time he'd applied in the past.
The Industrial Tribunal found that I could not successfully appeal the decision to terminate my employment as I could not prove that my (ex-)colleagues had also been guilty; of course I sodding-well couldn't - the first thing my ex-employer did on starting their "investigation" was to tell everyone to make sure that they had nothing on their machines they shouldn't have... and the only other way for me to prove it would have been for my colleagues to incriminate themselves - and lose their jobs too. Hmm, wonder why I never asked if they'd do that...?
Peyton wrote : "To most of us, it's discourteous, impolite, and unprofessional. Does that make better sense?"
No. Do people not exercise their judgement anymore? Has email rendered us incapable of 'reading between the lines' and appreciating variety, human expression and personality, or even finer subtlety and nuance? Does everything become black and white the moment it's committed to an electronic format?
If I'm turning a funny shade of purple and your ears are bleeding, it's a fair bet I'm shouting (rather aggressively) at you. If I'm simply talking to you these side effects won't be in evidence.
Are there no shades in between?
Do we get on the internet and think "lower case - reasonable, upper case - mad shouty bastard"? Just because it's supposed to be 'convention' that upper case characters are 'shouting', is there still not room for applying a little common sense and thinking for ourselves?
It reads to me like the lady in question was merely trying to emphasise the importance of something - not being rude, impolite, or offensive. Like I said, if I was an employer I would be seriously questioning the judgement, maturity and emotional stability of those who got their knickers in an etwist over a few capitals in an email.
But, as has been mentioned, I suspect there's more to this than just a case of misguided capitalisation.
It *is* convention. Just like a certain finger extended above the rest is considered rude - along with a million other gestures. Just like phrasing your speech in a condescending or sarcastic manner is considered rude. Just like shouting is considered rude. Shouting rude? No, I was just elevating my voice to make certain you could hear me, right?
Yes, if you disregard convention, none of the above make much sense. And yes, it is context based. So, no, shouting to someone who is hard of hearing does not denote anger. If I put LMAO in an email, no one thinks I'm shouting or being condescending. Reminder emails in all-caps, for most (and this could be a generational thing), have a different connotation.
I agree with much of what you write here. It's kind of the point I was making. Given the great variety of expression and nuance that face-to-face communication affords it can be difficult to properly assess the written word - and it seems misunderstandings abound when we try to communicate via electronic methods.
What I question is the AUTOMATIC assumption (by convention) that capitalisation is the equivalent of shouting, or being rude. Here I've used it for emphasis, and I would hope that all but the neuronically challenged would understand this from the context. Even if, upon appropriate consideration, we do indeed decide a particular capitalisation constitutes a 'shout', it remains to determine what kind of shout it is. Angry? Exasperated? Aggressive? Emphatic? Jubilant?
As you've mentioned, context is everything. Even if the lady in NZ deliberately intended to 'shout' in her email we still don't know the full context. Maybe it's a lot of hassle to her to sort out late timesheets and she was exasperated. Maybe she was trying to be a bit playful and trying to convey some humour. We simply don't know. Even with the accepted convention I don't think we can jump to conclusions. There's certainly not enough there to suggest she was being rude or impolite.
If 'most' people consider emails in capitals to be 'rude' then I'd suggest 'most' people need to get a grip and some perspective. They're just some words on a page written in a different case, for heaven's sake.
I know some people take offence at the strangest things, but we each own our own feelings of offence. We can choose not to be offended if we want to. There certainly isn't a deterministic relationship between comment and offence. If people choose to adopt the convention that capitalisation in emails is offensive and rude, then I guess it's something we'll have to live with, but it really does seem to be a hugely trivial thing to get worked up about.
>> Has no one noticed that she did say PLEASE. She deserves some recognition for at least using some politeness.
'Please' is polite, 'PLEASE' is patronising.
I reckon it is the employer's own fault, they probably made her fill out her application form in 'BLOCK CAPITALS' (that's doubly patronising). If they had made her fill it out in her own choice of case, they would not have hired her.
Everyone here seems to take the view that the woman in question was a complete moron who shouldn't be allowed near a notepad, let alone a computer.
However, as more than one commenter has pointed out, when the entire e-mail is taken in context, it is outrageous that she was summarily dismissed (i.e. no warnings).
The alternative viewpoint of which my post title speaks is that maybe, just maybe, it was her office colleagues who were the morons, and she had been beating her head off of a brick wall for the past few weeks trying to get them to follow some rather simple instructions.
After all, everyone gets a little frustrated when others can't follow some basic directions.
As an aside, I always prefer *do not* to DO NOT. It suggests emphasis in a less confrontational manner. Plus, some mail clients make merry with things like *word* and _word_ .
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