Avoid These Common Email Mistakes

July 12, 2017
EMAIL AND TECHNOLOGY

The rise of email has brought about an entirely new way to communicate. It’s not quite equal to now-dated letter writing, but it’s also not the same as a phone call.

Email is everywhere, but rules governing how we use it are not. Even with the most private email, the way you say things can be misinterpreted. For instance, do you use an exclamation point in a professional email? Or, do you sign it with the traditional “Sincerely Yours”?

There is no easy answer, since there are no written policies dictating email etiquette. Even though we use email for everything from the professional to the personal, it is still a relatively new tool, and navigating its ins and outs can be tricky.

Here are a few common email errors to avoid:

Mixing the formal and the informal

An email to your boss and one to your spouse should be approached very differently. Sprinkling exclamation points or emojis throughout a workplace message may seem out of place, just as signing an email to your family with your full name seems unnatural.

But, many people get used to composing an email the same way and don’t vary their tone depending on the context — whether it’s a professional or personal message. Give professional emails a close read before you hit “send” to catch any misspelling, grammatical errors or too-formal tones; we may get used to conversing with family and friends over email like that, but workplace messages should be a step up the formality ladder.

Copy and reply all with caution

The “copy” function is a great way to loop someone into an email thread quickly. But, not everyone wants their information shared with others.

Only use the feature if you’re certain everyone on the message is comfortable with their email address, and what they may have written in a previous thread, being shared.

Similarly, the “reply all” can get some email users into trouble. Make sure before you hit that button that you want your message to be directed to everyone. Occasionally, hopping off a public email thread and communicating with someone else in a private email may be more appropriate.

Don’t use email for everything

It’s getting more common to rely on email for nearly all of our communication. But, the tool shouldn’t be a substitute for conversations that are better had face to face.

Don’t fall back on email to avoid tough or awkward encounters, such as firing someone or discussing salary. Sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers or passwords, also should never be put into an email – even the most private email; no matter how secure we make our systems, that information is better addressed aloud.

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