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Phrases in workplace email determine destination

Posted on February 16th, 2012 Read time: 1 minutes

A recent study from Georgia Tech assistant professor Eric Gilbert determined which words and phrases indicate if a workplace email is being sent to a manager or a lower-level employee, Truthdive reports.

Gilbert used about 500,000 emails sent between 150 former Enron employees as his testing pool – the largest email dataset available for public study.

What he found was that certain word or phrases are indicators of whether an email is sent up the corporate hierarchy – such as to a manager or CEO – or if it's intended for a lower-level employee or temporary worker.

Specifically, the words "weekend," "voicemail," "driving" and "kitchen" were used the most in messages sent to higher-ups. Conversely, phrases such as "have you been," "you gave," "we are in" and "need in" were seen most commonly in emails to low-level workers.

Gilbert said this research could be used in smart email software to better determine preferences.

According to ENC Magazine, Gilbert said that his research – which took place in May 2001 – happened several months before Enron got itself into legal trouble, and "it's reasonable to assume that Enron and its people behaved just like any other large private entity."

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