Is Email Undermining Your Image?

"How do you sign your business emails? Some keep it simple: name and contact info. That's short and sweet enough. And then there are the more expressive types who include favorite URLs, famous quotes, and emoticons. How you conclude your email can affect how you're perceived," said Barbara Bogaev.

Marketplace Money highlighted an article about e-mail signatures, and what they say about women's roles in the workplace in this month's issue of The Atlantic. The story, by Rachel Simmons and Jessica Bennett, focuses on those who sign their emails with "XO."

Bennett says many people agonize over their signatures because they want to look casual and fun, but not appear too stiff or serious.

"We have so little time these days to type much of anything and so XO also just becomes this very quick abbreviation that says everything is OK or I still care about you, or whatever it is, that we don't have time to actually write down in words in our crazy kind of lives," says Simmons.

Business Insider featured a similar column this week, by Meredith Lepore. "Women tend to put more emotion and consideration into their emails," she said.

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?

“Email being sent through the workplace needs to be more formal,” said business etiquette expert Jorie Scholnik. 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!!!!!!

So be careful about how you come across in an email. Every word counts in the impression you make with each message.

When thinking about your email sign-off, Simmons says the goal is to find something that indicates your feelings about the person, that speaks to the person without appearing disingenuous or overdoing it.

How do you sign your emails? Let us know, sincerely.