15 tricks to appear smart in emails


16: Don’t try to be too smart, confuse cache and cachet, and end up writing caché.


• Whatever it is, you’ll have folks wagging their tongues about how dedicated you are to be thinking about the company at 3am.

A few folks at my company do this quite authentically. We shake our heads and worry amongst ourselves about their emotional state and desperate need to ingratiate themselves.

Confession: I do have a special filter for labeling emails from my boss, and notifications set up on my phone.

  1. Wait a week before responding to direct requests, then ask if it’s still needed
    Never respond to direct requests right away. If your help is truly needed, that person will find you, but most likely he’ll just ask someone else. After 7 days has passed, respond with, “This got buried, still needed?”

This is actually not bad advice. I know people who sit on mail for at least 24 hours.


I only check my email once a day and not before lunch. I never look at the time stamp on an email. So the time that a self important idiot sends email to me will not impress me. Then again a lot of my correspondents are in different time zones so the time stamp is not very important anyway. And as far as I know they are all smart enough to not need to look smart.

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14. Wait a week before responding to direct requests, then ask if it’s still needed[/quote]

This sounds like good advice if it’s an inter-office issue, but not if it’s an email from a different company that depends on your services.

I used to deal with a vendor whose customer service people routinely took three days to respond to urgent emails. The customer service team’s supervisor, the head of customer service, and the president of the company all agreed with me that this was unacceptable, but they never did anything about it. Eventually we cancelled all our business with them, and a year later they filed for bankruptcy.

Maybe they were trying to appear smart. Then again they never followed up with “This got buried, still needed?” For non-urgent matters I’d have to email them at least twice.

No faster way to clear your cachet.

I’ll see myself out…


Some people might be doing it to ingratiate themselves, but sometimes you just find yourself working on a project late at night (not necessarily because you have been working on it continuously since the daytime; you might just have trouble sleeping and spend at hour or two working on an issue that’s been bugging you). Why not send email during this time if it’s relevant?

“How to be a tool in ten easy steps.”
Poe’s law in action here.

I’m reminded of the situation I’ve seen multiple times when there’s a meeting with a couple hundred engineers, and at the end, when the presenter asks for questions, you can see them all wince as some suit in the back feels compelled to ask some suck-up question. I’ve always refrained from asking said suit how it feels to have just wasted a combined total of $10k worth of our corporate overlords’ time.


In the “10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings”, the 1st suggestion is to draw a Venn diagram. Of course, they drew a diagram with circles which are mutually exclusive and yet still overlapped. I guess if you are trying to appear smart in front of idiots, that might be useful. Which might be most meetings, but still…


How about just sending smart emails and avoid all the wasted effort to “trick” coworkers into thinking you aren’t an idiot?

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My husband’s work is the worst. He has to have cell phone on at all hours, but the bosses have discovered the autotimer method of sending emails, which they like to set up so it appears they are slaving away late into the night. So just as we are dozing off to sleep, or at other inconvenient times when we are alone in the bed, we hear the buzz of a new email coming in. There’s one night when a whole bunch of emails dump out of the system, of course around midnight, so it sounds like something terrible is happening that must be taken care of immediately and is rousing us from our sound slumber, but it’s really just a bunch of “reminder to change your password” type of shit.

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Shooting’s too good for them.

Trust me, I hear ya.

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In the day to day world, I turn my phone off in the evenings. When I know stuff is happening, I leave it on.

Fritzed brains ain’t no good to anyone.

What’s funny is how people are still rated on how they / things look. It’s amazing. People put so much effort into appearances. I’m engineery like that, but deeply believe you’d better get stuff done well. Annoyingly perhaps, I’ve persuaded whole departments of hundreds of people to switch to ratings based on immediately ascertained performance from each project, with co-operation between the doer and doee.

The best time, the senior bunch realised the horses they’d been backing - grooming and herding - were actually really not good at all, and the fuzzheads and geeks (or so they thought) shone out like beacons of capability and spirit.

Needless to say, the head honcho took it on himself to re-rate all the performance cards when it came to money time. Personally.

The groomed herd … came out trumps, but started leaving, because they realised their gravy train had a very apparent twerp as an engine.

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