It happens to everyone now and then – you wish you could unsend that e-mail that just left your computer. You won’t need to worry again if you remember these four tricks.
Check out the four most common (and most embarrassing) e-mail mistakes, and the best ways to avoid them:
Mistake #1: Hitting “Reply All”
So Carla sends an e-mail inviting you and eight co-workers to a meeting. You say you’ll be there … as long as Mike isn’t chewing his smelly salami sandwich again while he talks. Only problem? Everyone on the initial invite just received your reply – including Mike!
Trick to prevent: Take the ability to make this error go away! Many programs let you customize your tool bar to delete certain buttons. See if you can take out the Reply All button … and you’ll never make this mistake again.
Mistake #2: Forgetting to Attach a File
This is little more than a slip of the mind. But it still makes you feel foolish when you receive that “Uh … there’s nothing attached” message back.
Trick to prevent: Try attaching the file the first time you reference it in your e-mail message, instead of waiting until you’re finished. That way the file is top of mind, and it’s less likely you’ll attach the wrong one.
Mistake #3: Sending to the Wrong Recipient
You’re typing a note to a co-worker, complaining about your boss that you then proceed to send … to your boss! It makes sense – you have her on your mind, so that’s the name you inadvertently type. But that one’s hard to come back from.
Trick to prevent: Consider leaving the “to” field empty until you are completely finished typing the e-mail. Then you’ll be able to step back and put the correct recipient’s name in that critical space.
Mistake #4: Sending “Flame Mail”
Who hasn’t had the urge to give someone a piece of their mind now and then? And the “anonymity” of e-mail tends to make people a little more vocal than they’d be face to face. Perhaps you’re typing Jim in Marketing an e-mail explaining what you really think of him or simply crafting a snippy reply to Carol’s 100th asking of the standard mileage rate. A flame mail could leave you red-faced or it could be career suicide.
Trick to prevent: Your best bet is to send nothing as soon as you’re done typing it. Better to save it as a draft, give it 30 minutes or an hour and re-read. You’ll be in a better place to objectively decide whether or not to hit send.
Have we missed any embarrassing e-mail scenarios? Let us know here – or share your best techniques to sidestep these e-gaffes.