Email WHOOPS – so easy, yet so awful

We’ve all had that “oh, ****” moment having just hit SEND for an email, then realised we have made a mammoth mistake…(see below for update on this one)

Email whoops and how to avoid them

But there are other email dangers lurking in the shadows than cost you more than a typo or mistaken date.

Here are the main ones and how to avoid them…

Update on correcting email mistake: when you hit send, you can set a time lapse with Gmail

Many thanks to the intrepid Mark Orr who in a comment on LinkedIn, pointed out the following:

Hello Suzan, this is one of the things I love about the version of Gmail I use in G Suite. You can set an amount of time in seconds that allows me to undo a send after I have hit the send button. It has saved my blushes on several occasions.

Good news – I wonder how long it will take for other email providers to follow suit? But for now, on with some other email WHOOPS…

The email chain monster

You’re in a hurry. There’s one more email to do before you’re out of there to the meeting you’re already late for.

You rattle off your response, ending with a bitchy quip that reads something like “hope that’s enough to shut up (name of client / boss) until tomorrow.” You hit send to “reply all” and you’re out the door.

That’s when the ordure matter can hit the air conditioning.

You didn’t check down that email chain, now, did you?

And somewhere down that long, long chain in which everyone is still included, there is someone who really shouldn’t see your comments.

Email mistakes can get you into troubleRemedy:  As I wrote about in more detail in this article back in March 2016, check down the chain and make sure that there is no-one included in the “TO” section whom you feel shouldn’t see your most recent information, for whatever reason. If you do spot someone either delete their name/address in the “TO” section when you would click on “reply all,” or merely reply ONLY to the original
sender of the email to which you are responding.

The hasty email response when your temper is about to explode

Somebody emails you with a message that makes you want to burn their house down and/or crush their business like a shovel grinding down a dog turd. And you respond accordingly.

Especially if you write such an email in an emotional mood, it’s likely to create the absolute opposite effect than that of what you really want to communicate.

I know, I know. It can make YOU feel better to send a throat-slashing email that will make your eOpponent wonder if it will ever again be safe to start up their car in the morning, but seriously … give it a rest.

Sending an inflammatory, vicious, bum-chewing message may make you feel better at the time you write it, but hey, steady: leave it to tomorrow when you’ve had time to consider the issue more rationally.

Remedy: no matter how angry or otherwise inflamed you may feel, remember that others may not share your outrage … and maybe by tomorrow morning you might not, either. If you want to publish a business rant, by all means do it – BUT, leave it overnight and make sure you still feel that vehemently about it in the morning. You might be surprise how much daylight can modify extra-strong views.

Emails replicated to 100s of people

When I’m not writing about writing, I work (as a volunteer) alongside one of the major public sector organisations in the UK – in fact I believe it’s 5th largest employers in the world.

Many expert people within that organisation fail to understand what “BCC” (Blind Carbon copy) email status means, and why it should be used.

For more articles on how to write better emails for business and other purposes, click right here on HTWB

Recently I received an email from a regional element of the UK national entity and having been stunned by the number of names and email addresses contained in the forward email, I made an attempt to count them.

Estimating how many names/addresses per line I counted up the lines and figured out that there were more than 400 email addresses there in plain view.

Why do hundreds of people need to share one of your emails?

Remedy: it’s so simple, it’s pathetic.

Mistakes in email marketingWhatever email client you use, it will offer you the option to choose BCC which enables you to send emails to as many people as you want – and they won’t be able to see to whom else you are sending the same email.

If you send business emails out regularly it’s worth looking into email management systems like MailChimp which can sort all the fiddly issues out for you.

Don’t forget security risks

That’s the other fear factor when you email hundreds of people without entering the addresses via the BCC function: security.

It may sound like a line from a WW2 movie, but the more people who have access to all those email addresses, the more likely is that they – even accidentally – could be forwarded to a spammer … or worse.

Remedy: get into the habit of using the BCC function for every multiple email – even to close friends and family. Better safe than sorry.

And finally, inconvenience

If someone does send out an email to you and 35 friends or colleagues, do all 36 of them really need to see your reply?

I know it’s easier just to hit “reply all” than to pick out only those who need to know. But unless you want someone to sneak salt in your coffee in revenge instead of sugar, don’t stuff up people’s inboxes with email replies that have nothing to do with them.

What are your pet WHOOPS when you’re sending and receiving emails?

Please share!