Corporate workplace wisdom would have you think exclamation points are the bogeyman. Inc., Fast Company, BBC, Monster.com, The Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, even MEL have all written about the “dangers” of using too many exclamation points in workplace contexts, calling them “infantile,” “lazy” and “unprofessional.” Broadly, they’re seen as people-pleaser-y and overly enthusiastic in a cringe way, but in a more coded sense, they’re also “feminine.” In fact, some studies have found that women are responsible for as much as 73 percent of all exclamation points. For that reason, many of these warnings are targeted at women and getting them to lessen their usage. Supposedly, this would help them present themselves as more “work-appropriate,” but also to lessen the “emotional labor” they spend by softening the seriousness of their language with punctuation.
Well, fuck that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The advice shouldn’t be that women ought to use fewer exclamation points, but that men ought to use more of them. Honestly, I think we’d all be happier for it — the banality of most corporate jobs frankly borders on inhumane, and there are few things I’d rather do less than send a carefully worded, flat email utilizing only periods, commas and question marks. What my heart really wants to do is slap those goddamn Shift + 1 keys. It feels good!!!
And were I a boss, I’d be happy to see employees communicating with exclamation points. Don’t we want people to be enthusiastic? Don’t we want them to feel friendly and interested? Sure, maybe employees aren’t actually feeling any of those emotions, but an exclamation point is a way of faking it, which seems more productive than wallowing in boredom.
Really, I don’t get why men haven’t already been using exclamation points. On Reddit, guys have written that they intentionally began incorporating more exclamation points into their work communications because they were either told outright or feared that they seemed intimidating or cold. Others say that they mainly avoid using exclamation points when texting with a woman in a dating context, and otherwise don’t pay much attention to whether or not they’re even using them. This seems to be because most men want to avoid portraying a sense of eagerness that could translate as being unhinged. And in dating, that’s fine. But at work? Using exclamation points seems like a truly innocuous consequence of the reality that we are all slightly unhinged. How could we not be?
An exclamation point is a little sprinkle of zest. A tiny inkling of joy and exuberance. Rather than telling women to police their writing by removing exclamation points, we should all go hog on them. Exclamation points left and right! Yes, Rebecca from HR, I did have a great weekend! I hope you did, too!