Last week, we went over some basic email etiquette tips. Here are some mistakes that are commonly made over email that you should avoid.
1. Proofread your emails. You should re-read your email before you send it. Check for auto-corrected words or words that the spell check does not pick up (for example there, their, they’re). Imagine yourself as the recipient of the email and what that person might perceive you are saying. For example, take out sarcasm or jokes that might be offensive and be very clear about what you want. There’s nothing worse than writing something like “tits” instead of “its” and not catching that in the proofreading.
2. Double check the recipients. When I was in the first year of my first job, I hit “reply” instead of “forward” with a dumb email to my colleague about why the person should have sponsored a booth at a conference since he was wealthy. You can imagine the fall out when he received it and was very insulted. Needless to say, he didn’t sponsor a booth at the conference! Had I simply double checked and changed the recipient (or better yet, not sent the email at all), that never would have happened. Don’t let it happen to you either.
3. Check the content of what you are forwarding. When you hit forward, the entire chain often comes with it. You have to manually delete the prior discussion if you only want the recipient to read the latest message. You can also cut and paste the section you want to share to avoid all the deleting. Otherwise, you may be passing along too much information as well as the messages other people sent you in confidence.
4. Don’t forward inappropriate messages. You become part of the problem as soon as you forward an inappropriate message. You are not responsible for what other people send you, but you become responsible as soon as your name is placed at the top. Only forward emails from your business account that are directly relevant to your colleagues. If you really want to send it to others, consider forwarding to your personal account and forwarding to your family and friends after work on your own time.
5. Watch your tone and avoid sarcasm. Emails are difficult to interpret since you can’t see the person’s face or context of the comment.
Roger Custer is executive director of America’s Future Foundation.
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