Do Women Undermine Themselves With Punctuation??!!!!:) How Professional are your e-mails?

Do Women Undermine themselves with Punctuation??!!!!

How professional are your e-mails?

What makes a professional e-mail? Women tend to put more emotion and consideration into their emails, which often translates into more punctuation. Is punctuation actually undermining your abilities?

Why unprofessional e-mails happen

Sometimes we get tired, or overly casual, or just plain excited, and we get a little crazy with our work emails. We fall into a pattern where in order to convey passion or receive approval we use exclamation points A LOT. You’d think we were gaining points in a game for how many exclamation points we are using.

Or perhaps you may even slip into smiley face territory or, worst of the worst, emoticons. And not to beat up on my sex, but I notice that women tend to toss around the fun punctuation more than men (myself included!!!!***###). Men get to the point. They use big, fat periods. And then they go out and kill a bear and eat it. But should we try to be more like men in their writing style, which can often come off as brash?

Professional E-mail

With email, the main purpose is to get to the point and to get to it quickly—and men tend to do that more 🙁

Perhaps the problem here is not knowing whether the conversation really needs a phone call or not. Sometimes we would love to do everything over email because most of us stopped putting pen to paper only a few years after we learned to use email. (There was a time when I had great handwriting; now I get texting cramps.) But sometimes a phone call or Skype chat is really the only way to go.

Email being sent through the workplace needs to be more formal. Punctuation can not only undermine you in email, but it can convey your intentions incorrectly. You may think putting a bunch of question marks shows interest, but it could easily be interpreted as impatience, she says. And those friendly exclamation points can quickly be translated as anger or shouting!!!!!!

According to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, if you send email replies to your work colleagues regularly, your chances are no better than 50 percent of it being interpreted correctly, even when the writer believes he or she has correctly ascertained the tone of the emails. For example, sarcasm is extremely hard to convey over email. Chandler Bing would not have been funny if you had only been reading his lines.


It is important for both genders to remember you may be emailing people of a different generation. You cannot use emoticons or LOLs when you are emailing a baby boomer. (Trust me, it took me hours to explain “TTYL” to my father—a doctor and Princeton graduate. And don’t even get me started on the day that was lost to “YOLO!”)

Julie Spira, “netiquette” expert and author of The Rules of Netiquette: How to Mind Your Digital Manners, states that “using LOL might be appropriate with your best friend who knows that it stands for ‘Laugh out Loud,’ however your boss might not take you seriously. I urge women to limit their use of punctuation marks to personal emails. If you get a new job or get engaged, an exclamation mark or two is appropriate, providing it’s sent to your inner circle.”

Nicole Emerick, founder of Ms. Career Girl Media, told us that young women should think about these three things before going punctuation crazy in an email:

Why do you think you need this extra punctuation?

Emerick says that before sending emails, young professional women should get in the habit of asking themselves WHY they are using emoticons, exclamation points, and “haha’s” in emails. Are you intimidated by the recipient? Do you wonder about the answer to their question? Are you trying to over-compensate for something? Do you want to make them like you?

Tweet, Tweet: You want the email to be concise

Think about work email the way you’d think of Tweeting, says Emerick: Imagine you are limited to 140 characters and must boil it down to ONLY what’s important. When thinking like this, emoticons, “haha’s” and !!!!!’s often add more confusion—and characters—to the message.

Are you trying to hide behind punctuation?

Emerick says, “I love a good 🙂 as much as the next girl, and I do believe there are times where they can add personality. What I am NOT a fan of is using them as a bandaid or distraction from a serious email that may not be easy to write.” Removing the smiley faces and “LOLs” from your emails may feel scary or too direct at first, but it’s important to get comfortable with being direct sooner, rather than later, in your career.

Graduation is looming, now what?

Graduation is looming, now what?

Prepare for the next career step

Graduation and career seem to go hand in hand so take action. Have you started thinking about what to do after graduation yet? What are your big “to do” items as you wrap up this semester? Find a job or perhaps an internship? Expand on your skills and abilities? Graduate school?

If you haven’t done so, it’s important to create your vision and begin working towards your career goals. Don’t let thinks sneak up on you.

Graduation and career:  Questions to ask

Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you set your career-related goals and finish wrapping up your college career:

  • What work do I want to do?  What Industries I am interested in?
  • Why is this work important?
  • Am I competitive with others who do this work?
  • What are the main skills, knowledge and abilities needed to excel in this work?
  • Am I staying updated with the latest trends?
  • How’s my professional network? Am I actively using LinkedIn and is my profile updated and strong? Are my offline and online groups supporting me in making new connections and staying knowledgeable in my field?
  • Is my resume updated? Does it showcase my accomplishments and offer solid evidence that I am the best person to overcome an employer’s challenges?

These questions will help you start to formulate a plan in order to move forward. Remember, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Graduation and career: Take the next step

Once you have asked the hard questions, then take the next step to ensure that you move forward with your career.  If you need a job, then start sending out applications. When you are go on in school, be sure to apply for further education.  If you need another class, be the one to sign up.  Be sure to do what it takes to move forward after career.

Graduation and career can lead you forward towards positive professional goals.  Do what it takes to keep moving forward.