exclamation point

5 Things Your Exclamation Point (!!!) In Email Means to Me

Kris Dunn Communication, Email, Kris Dunn

You know who you are.  You love to use the exclamation point in emails and writing!

Yes!!!

You’re a peppy son of a gun.  We’re watching your enthusiasm for life and/or your sense of urgency.
The thing is, you use the exclamation point so much that we’re not sure if if all that enthusiasm and/or urgency is real.

Let’s start with the definition of the exclamation point (!) from about.com:

punctuation mark (!) used after a sentence that expresses a strong emotion. See also:

So, it’s strong emotion that goads us into using the exclamation point.  With that in mind, here’s the 5 ways I see the !! being used these days:

1.  I’m Happy.  Usually reserved to frame up a single word at the end of an email like “cool!”.

2.  I’m Intense.  Same time of usage, but after a word like “right!” or “You got it!”

3.  Get off your *SS.  “Get me the report ASAP!”.  Usually only used when someone has missed a deadline and you can get away with it.  See also, “I need it by 10am!”

4.  I’m Happy and/or intense all the time, which means it’s the default for my communication, which means after I get 5 emails from you, I don’t even see the exclamation point any more.  You put it in everything you send me, early and often.  What’s your name again?  I’ve started tuning you out!!  Danger!

5.  I’m a caricature of what I think my company wants me to be.  It’s a part of your autosignature in Outlook to say “Thanks!”  Guess what?  Since you decided to include it in the 100 emails you send me a month, I’m actually deducting points every time I see it.

Do me a favor.  Save the “!” for when you mean it.  If you use it more than twice a day in an email, it has no effect on the corporate ecosystem in which you live.  Don’t include it in your autosignature. Actually type it in when you feel it, dog.  There are a bunch of jaded cynics that are generating negative energy towards you from your overuse of the exclamation point..

For real!!!!!

Kris Dunn
Kris Dunn is a Partner and CHRO at Kinetix, a national RPO firm for growth companies headquartered in Atlanta. He's also the founder Fistful of Talent (founded in 2008) and The HR Capitalist (2007) – and has written over 70 feature columns at Workforce Management magazine. Prior to his investment at Kinetix, Kris served in HR leadership roles at DAXKO, Charter and Cingular. In his spare time, KD hits the road as a speaker and gives the world what it needs – pop culture references linked to Human Capital street smarts.