We’ve all been there: you Google “How to be taken more seriously at work” and you’re barraged with heaps of well-meaning, semi-helpful advice, ranging from removing “sorry” from your work vocabulary to eliminating all the exclamation points from your emails. Well, I decided to take it a step further by replacing these exclamation points with links to vaguely threatening images, and I’ve never felt more respected by my colleagues!
Initially, I found it liberating to hit send on an email to my boss that just said “Ok.” – However, I soon felt that simply eliminating exclamation points and replacing them with periods (the “fuck you” of punctuation) wasn’t enough.
I began removing punctuation altogether. Every time I felt the urge to add “!” to the end of a “just following up” email, I not only fought it back, I took it even further, replacing all of my exclamation points with links to disquieting images, like a woman holding a baby in a big dress and it looks like her adult legs are the baby’s legs.
If my boss emailed me for a status update on a project that was supposed to be completed weeks ago, I sent him a curt update, my exclamation points replaced with periods and my periods replaced with images of huge, meaty hands squeezed into tight fists.
If a coworker asked me a question, I answered it, sans enthusiastic exclamation, punctuated instead by an eerie photo of the Titanic, wrecked and corroded on the ocean floor.
If a client ever “checked in” or “followed up” or – god forbid – “circled back” they were greeted with a professional email response, addressing all of their questions, littered with hyperlinks to photos of lighting striking skyscrapers, lions feasting on the open abdomen of a slain gazelle, or Lin Manuel Miranda posing with his birthday cake.
The results were instantaneous.
My boss no longer sent me constant check-in emails, my coworkers asked me fewer questions, and clients stopped reaching out to me altogether. In fact, my inbox became a near-barren wasteland – the dream of all corporate 9-5ers: Inbox Zero!
For the first time in my corporate career, I felt respected, feared, admired, but like in a very hateful way. Wanting to help others become their most empowered corporate selves, I began to share my methodology with my friends and coworkers. The reception could be best described as “lukewarm” and the comments I received were largely “concerned for my well-being.”
Regardless, it is my hope that, with time, this corporate life-hack will become more widely utilized and more employees will feel encouraged to use their voices, to take up space, to attach an uncalled for photo of a woman curled up in the fetal position screaming at the top of her lungs to an otherwise innocuous email – in short: to be taken more seriously at work.
So, get out there and give it a shot!