Email Signatures: Amusing or Annoying?

Just For Fun Web 2.0

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) discusses here and here the popularity of adding some sort of quote as part of your email signature. But some can be taken differently than intended. For example: “Too often we underestimate the power of a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Quotes like these can come across as a bit preachy by presuming readers are insensitive and complacent.

But some emailers claim these types of quotes can add personality to otherwise dry business emails. Aaron Dragushan likes such quotes so much that he has put together a collection of 4,467 quotations on his site Some examples: “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words” and “If I ever get real rich, I hope I’m not real mean to poor people, like I am now.”

The first example above falls prey to a similar presumption as the “underestimate” quote, that of picking something cliche (in this case, defining “friendship”) and referencing it in a supposed unique way to awaken the reader into realizing how to be a better person through a profound way. At least, this is a possible interpretation. The second quote, being a Jack Handy, is funny, at least to this reader. But is it for everyone?

Some emailers have resorted to automating quote rotation so that no particular email signature gets stale with time and over-usage while others explain that “the foot of an email might not be the best place for self-expression.”

Here are few more examples from the articles:

“Work like you don’t need the money, love like you’ve never been hurt, and dance like you do when nobody’s watching.” (Yet another ready-to-be-interpreted-offensively stating how one should live to be a better person.)

“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is.” (This one is clever but could definitely get old if seen on a daily basis every time you email with a coworker.)

“’Keep on Truckin’ — Winston Churchill” (The classic I’ve-lost-all-credibility email signature mismatching quote with quoter.)

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