On the etiquette of “!”

I’ve been rehashing in my brain an issue from work from a few years back that still angers and annoys me. Because of it, I now no longer use the “!” or down arrow (not important) function on MS Outlook for work-related e-mail. This never used to be a problem at my corporate employer for nearly 10 years, but it did become an issue with my tyrant boss (now gone) who got onto me for using it “improperly”. What was worse is that my local advocate from the ARC of Fort Bend *agreed* with my boss, that I was mis-using this tool and not following proper business etiquette. I always thought that the “!” was something I could use to indicated “yo, don’t blow off this email, it’s actually pretty important for you to look at this soon.”; admittedly it was something important *to me*, at any rate. I was told, NO, the “!” means “DROP EVERYTHING AND READ THIS NOW!!” and that if my message didn’t reach that level of urgency I should refrain from using the “!”; I disagreed and argued for my own interpretation, but even my advocate figuratively shouted me down on this and I had to just accept it and stop using the “!”. But I also get the feeling my emails are now more easily ignored. One of my emails recently the respondent said “oh, sorry, it got lost in the shuffle”, and it was a time sensitive matter. In the corporate environment I would’ve used the “!”, but I’ve been cowed into not using it and still refrain from it even though I have a more understanding boss these days. It still aggravates and irritates me to think about, that the proper use of “!” depends on correctly gauging if the recipient is going to agree with you regarding just how important/urgent your message is TO THEM and that *I* am somehow wrong if it does not, that MY view of how important a message may be is somehow irrelevant. It just seems like a backhanded way to marginalize and ignore me sometimes.

It’s as if my Asperger’s diagnosis means my opinion of what’s important in email correspondence can be disregarded because my judgement of such matters is somehow automatically fatally flawed….