Sunday, September 11, 2011
10 Emails That Could Get You Fired
We all know the internet has given us instant communication…in fact, instantaneous communication, which seems to me to be even quicker than instant :). When sending emails, the moment we click that send button whatever we wrote is gone—it's winging its way through cyberspace, out there for the recipient (or recipients) to receive. If we have second thoughts, it's too late to stop the message from reaching its destination.
And as we also know, sometimes we click that send button when we shouldn't. The results can be troublesome when it's something personal we're sending from our computer at home. But when it's work related, it can put our job in jeopardy. And the situation can be compounded by the fact that facial expression, tone of voice, and body language don't show up in the written word. We can add our emoticons and smiley faces to convey a light or teasing intent, but that doesn't always change the words we've chosen.
There are some basic, common sense rules that apply to sending email, especially work related messages. I recently found a list of 10 such rules that I'd like to share with you.
1. All capped email: Messages typed in all capital letters are considered CYBER SHOUTING. You can use quote marks or italics if your intention is to merely emphasize certain words or phrases.
2. Personal email: If your intention is to send confidential or time-sensitive information, perhaps you would be better off using the phone or meeting in person. Emails can be printed, copied, and/or forwarded to any number of people unknown to the original sender. Don't say anything in an email that you wouldn't want to eventually end up in the company newsletter.
3. Sloppy email: Take an extra moment before clicking send so that you can check spelling, grammar, punctuation and to make sure that what you've written is clear so that it cannot be misunderstood.
4. Joke email: What is funny to you and said without any malice or bad intention might be offensive to others. What you've put into a written communication is permanent and can easily be forwarded to any number of people without your knowledge.
5. Long email: Keep it short. If work related, you might want to consider putting your entire message in the subject line. "Budget meeting at 3pm today." Follow this with the acronym EOM for end of message. That way the recipient won't need to take the time to open the email. However…only use acronyms when you're sure the recipient knows that they mean.
6. Buddy-buddy email: In a business situation, sometimes it's counter-productive to be too casual or personal.
7. Congratulatory email: A congratulatory email for something like a job promotion doesn't convey the same type of personal feeling as a special card or hand written note. Sending out the congratulations wishes via email has a very impersonal feel to it, something more akin to a duty that can be dispatched in a matter of seconds rather than a sincere gesture that required thought and a personal effort.
8. Over-shared email: When sending a message to a large number of people, especially employees scattered around different locations of the company, using the bcc feature will guarantee that the only email address showing up will be that of the recipient only rather than a long list of email addresses.
9. Oops email: When receiving an email at work that was distributed to a large number of people, only respond to those who require your input. That reply all button isn't always necessary, especially if the only person needing your response is the sender.
And finally, the most obvious of all.
10. Moody email: It should go without saying that you should never send an email when you're angry. It's way too easy to say something in the heat of the moment that you will regret later. Possibly even something that could get you fired.