How to avoid email embarrassment

Ah, email, lover of my soul.  People around the world sent over 210 billion each day in 2008: about 2 million per second.  And with that level of saturation in our lives it’s easy to slip up and really make an idiot of yourself through a quick email.  To avoid falling flat on your @ through email here’s some simple strategies.

  1. Keep work emails work related and not personal: Email is great for having paper trails in business, but these trails come back to haunt you if you’re not careful.  People have gotten fired and sued for spreading slanderous or inappropriate emails on office networks, as well as for using office email servers as their own inboxes.  Make messages task and information related, and remember that everything you send through the office is visible to someone other than who you intended.
  2. Check who it’s sent to: It happens to everyone – you hit “reply all” instead of just “reply” and your response to Suzie gets sent to everyone in Suzie’s address book.  At best you look like an idiot.  But, as with #1, it can get you fired.  A story in techdirt told of how an irate exec sent an email blaming his secretary for a lost bathroom key to her as well as to a number of other execs by hitting “reply all”.  News spread throughout the firm and the red-faced company president had to resign.
  3. Don’t drive-by email: Emailing in anger is a sure fire way to get yourself in trouble.  This is called “flaming” and does nobody any good, especially yourself.  And if you get flamed, laugh at the fool and delete it.
  4. Don’t forward unnecessarily: It is impossible to save baby whales, win the lottery, or prove that you love God by forwarding an email.  Also, be suspicious of any mass-forwarded email in general, especially those that tell you to do something to your computer.  99.9% of these are hoaxes and only seek to misinform people.  Next time you get one of these, copy the subject line into Google and see what comes up.  You can also check out Hoax Slayer for info on the latest mass circulated hoaxes on the net.
  5. Don’t email when you can talk: People unfortunately use email to avoid actual human contact.  While this certainly makes life easier at times, emailing back and forth over issues that really require actual face time is a waste of time and can lead to misinterpretations.  Sorry, emoticons only help a little 😦 .
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Posted on July 29, 2009, in How To and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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