Emails marked "urgent!" that aren't actually urgent - how do you react?

A big chunk of my job involves responding to emailed requests. Generally, the requests get sent to me, and I address them in more-or-less the order they were sent, although requests that are a giant PIA may find themselves being slightly procrastinated upon. :smiley:

I’ve noticed a trend that most of you will totally see coming: emails that are marked “urgent!” are, invariably, not urgent or time-sensitive at all. Emails that ARE time-sensitive are, invariably, not marked as such. :rolleyes: Anyway, I’m inclined to not address the requests marked “urgent” with any hurry, and in fact, often put them in some electronic version of time-out for a little while. I do not want the people who send in these requests getting the idea that marking their email with a red exclamation mark will allow them to cut to the head of the line. If there was a way to give a slight, silent stink-eye to the people who send these this way, I would.

Thoughts? Amusing anecdotes? What do you do with (work-related) emails that are labelled this way?

We have one person in our company who often sends out broadcast emails about the status of one system or another that a lot of people interact with, so it is useful and important information.

She doesn’t mark them urgent.

Instead, in the Subject line, she starts them all with “PLEASE READ!”.

If I were to recognize the name of the sender I would read it first. Of course, that never happens. Otherwise I discard them unread. Same with “Please reply” or other such nags. Also, “You have won the lottery”, since I have never played a lottery. Although I am now in a free lottery whose first prize is two nights in Philadelphia and tickets to hear Yannick Nezet-Seguin conduct the Phiadelphia Orchestra (second prize: four nights in Philadelphia). But then the email would be identified as coming from the Orchestre Metropolitain, of which YNS is also the leader.

My company, or perhaps I should say that part of my company that communicates with me, doesn’t have people who use the exclamation point as routine, so it’s usually worth bumping up on the read list. It’s likely to be worth, at least, consideration.

As a matter of fact, I recently sent one out. “Frank, you never use ‘urgent’, so I read it right away.” That’s not a power I care to abuse.

Reply with:

That doesn’t mean it won’t be your ass if the boss finds you procrastinated on doing it immediately.

I just treat them as any other email, unless the sender is someone in my management chain.

I don’t know that I ever notice whether an email is marked urgent or not. If something is really important, my boss will come talk to me. If a coworker needs an immediate response, I’ll get an IM or a visit.

As for personal email - nothing is ever urgent that isn’t an immediate phone call.

Well, to clarify: reading and responding to these email requests is my job so it’s not like I can ignore them. I’m supposed to respond to them within 24 hours (weekends not counted) but things have slowed down recently to the point where they nearly all get addressed within 3 or 4 hours by someone on my team.

I’m tempted, however, to make the people who send urgent-flagged emails that aren’t urgent or time-sensitive wait longer because, frankly, it’s annoying as all hell to think that they’re either a) hoping to skip the line for shit that doesn’t matter or b) so utterly clueless they either b1) don’t know they marked the email urgent or b2) mark all their outgoing emails as urgent.

Not all of the people I work with are all that computer-savvy and/or angels (a coupla people have a reputation from throwing others under a bus if needed) so a, b1 and b2 are all not outside the realm of possibility.

Emails marked urgent to me means they get read first, but not necessarily acted on first.

Anything that hits my inbox with the ‘Urgent’ tag set, or that has an auto-respond request for “This email has been read” get deleted sight unseen.

Argh!!! I hate the urgent flag. My wife send EVERY SINGLE EMAIL as urgent. Even grocery lists.

Self-important much?

I’m sitting here thinking that I never get urgent messages, but I decided to check. I do get them, and most of them were pretty important. The most recent one said, and I ama paraphrasing for effect, “That web server that you rely on for 90% of your job is going away in 2 days unless you pay us a huge fee.”

In the interest of research and fighting ignorance, could you ask her WHY she does this? Is it an auto-set thing, or does she consciously mark each email that way before she sends it to you? Inquiring minds would like to know!

(Or … will that start too big of a fight?)

I’ve got a co-worker that does that. Every single email that she sends me is marked as hot or urgent. Every one. And while they all need to be answered, none of them are what I would consider urgent. I’m not going to put anyone line down, or lose an order if they take 8 hours to answer. She’s been doing this for about 10 years now, and I find that I don’t even bother opening her emails until I get to them in the queue.

It’s kind of like swearing in the office. I usually don’t swear, but when I do, people know that something isn’t right.

Not emails, but our work comes into our system and shows up for us basically the same way email would: first come, first served. The staff that create the work, however, can mark certain requests as urgent to bump them to the top. The reaction in our office is annoyance, but there’s really nothing we can do about it. We have to do things in order, whether things are in the order they should be or not.

I get rush requests from time to time, but it’s usually in the subject line of the email. The only time I get requests marked urgent, they’re from one particular person and his emails are peppered with explanation marks!!!
All it does is give me the impression that he’s very high strung!!! and excitable!!!
I never say anything, it’s supposed to be a professional environment.

We get phone calls, voice mails and e-mails. And that is the order of their priority.

There is no such thing as an urgent e-mail. If it’s urgent, pick up the damn phone and call.

Some people at work send work-related emails with that auto-respond request, so I can’t delete them, but I set up my Outlook Mail so that the auto-respond message never ever gets sent. No one’s complained yet.:smiley:

The majority of the time at my company, internal emails marked urgent actually are. In the rare instance that they’re not, I’ll generally respond to the entire group with something to the effect of, “What exactly was urgent about letting us all know your kid’s in a xmas pagent, Greg?”