How to avoid embarrassing goofs in your email threads

We’ve all done it: carried on a lengthy email conversation by replying to the same thread multiple times. Usually by the end you’re talking about something completely different from what the subject line says.

How to avoid embarrassing goofs in your email threads

When you’re very busy and everything is going off around you at the same time, it’s a very easy mistake to make.

If it’s just a conversation between you and one other, there’s no problem. But how about when there are others involved? And some are clients or customers? And especially if you use the “reply all” function?

How your email thread can be horribly embarrassing

Let’s look at a fictitious example…and although normally these threads run in reverse chronological order, for the sake of sanity I have turned this around so we go from first to last…

From – me
To – video editor
CC – client
Hi John (video editor) – will your edit be ready for me to get the voice-over talent in to record tomorrow?
Sz

From – video editor, reply all (me and client)
Hi Suze – should be ready. Do you want to book the VO for 2:00 p.m.?
J.

From – me, reply all
Hi again John – sure, will do. Edward (client), would you like to come to the recording session?
Sz

From client – reply all
Yes indeed. I will be there at 14:00 hrs tomorrow.
Edward Schofield

From video editor – reply all
Hi Suze – do we really have to have him along? He’s so picky and pedantic – it will take forever.
J.

DISASTER…

It may seem like the video editor here was being rather stupid, but trust me – when you’re very busy and everything is going off around you at the same time, it’s a very easy mistake to make.

How to keep control of your email threads

1. Try to avoid using the “reply all” function if you can. That way you can’t send a reply to someone by accident.

2. If you do want to use the “reply all” function, check carefully who else is on the distribution list. And don’t forget to scroll down that list if you use Outlook … if you’re in a hurry you can miss the little arrow to the right of the box that scrolls you down the complete list.

3. Avoid replying to an email that by now has a defunct subject line. Either check through the thread to make sure there’s nothing awkward in there then update the subject line, or start a fresh thread.

4. As always, avoid writing and sending emails if you’re angry, overly stressed, upset, drunk or otherwise not in the mood to pay attention to detail. Once you hit “send” its too late … and asking to “recall” an email makes things even worse…

Have you ever experienced an embarrassing email thread?

Please share!

 

 

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