An email signature is worth a thousand words, if this revealing diagram is to be believed.
From that work wife debate to the unbelievably irritating phrases that your boss drops into emails at every opportunity (please never say ‘blue sky thinking’ again), office politics is a hot topic for anyone workin’ nine-to-five.
So it makes sense that our email sign offs are under so much scrutiny. Because, depending on how it’s phrased, an email sign off can act as the window to an author’s soul. That or, y’know, deal the biggest passive aggressive blow since you stuck that post-it note on your housemate’s pile of unwashed dishes back in university.
Oh yes: whether you realised it or not, your email sign off says a lot about you, and the mood you’re in. This is, of course, a two-way street. We’ve all received a message from a colleague with a sour-sounding ‘regards’ at the bottom, or – god forbid – no sign off at all.
Now, all of our email sign off suspicions have been brought to life in an illustration posted by Girl Boss.
The diagram gives nine different examples of typical email sign offs, and above each one a description of the energy of the person sending them.
From good to neutral to evil, the diagram charts how you should be interpreting the message between the lines of the emails you receive – and some of them are brilliantly accurate.
For example, we love that the auto message ‘Sent from my iPhone” has been included under the label of neutral chaotic (the sender has no feelings towards you either way but they’re definitely having a hectic day).
Or that “Regards” means the sender is feeling lawful evil (they have to be polite to you because, professionalism, but they really don’t want to be).
Here’s the chart to take a gander at – and ask yourself, which energy have you been giving out the most recently?
Followers of the Girl Boss Instagram page have been loving the diagram, commenting with their own thoughts on the different sign offs.
One follower made their feelings known on this sign off, writing: “People who leave ‘sent from my iPhone’ on their signature need to get their life in order.”
Another suggested that a certain sign off needed switching around, writing: “Chaotic evil is without a doubt, ‘Thanks.’ Something about making a comma a period marks a true villain.”
Of course, they aren’t the only person to opine that a full stop in an email or text is the ultimate passive aggressive move. Indeed, according to research carried out by Professor Celia Klin, using a period to end a sentence in an informal message can completely change the meaning and sentiment.
“In formal writing, such as what you’d find in a novel or an essay, the period is almost always used grammatically to indicate that a sentence is complete,” Klin explained, as reported by The Nottingham Post.
“With texts [and emails], we found that the period can also be used rhetorically to add meaning.”
Klin added: “We concluded that although periods no doubt can serve a grammatical function in texts just as they can with more formal writing – for example, when a period is at the end of a sentence – periods can also serve as textisms, changing the meaning of the text.
“We read text messages in a slightly different way than we read a novel or an essay. Further, all the elements of our texts – the punctuation we choose, the way that words are spelled, a smiley face – can change the meaning. The hope, of course, is that the meaning that is understood is the one we intended… [which is why] it’s not uncommon for those of us in the lab to take an extra second or two before we send texts.
“We wonder: ‘How might this be interpreted? Period or no period? That sounds a little harsh; maybe I should soften it.’”
Work emails will never be the same again, and neither will full stops. Happy messaging, folks.
Images: Mateus Campos