6 Classic Email Faux Pas, And How to Recover

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Posted by Liz Seasholtz on June 15, 2011
6 Classic Email Faux Pas, And How to Recover

Email faux pas are bound to happen, so knowing how to recover in a way that proves your good character and professionalism is essential. We talked to Judith Kallos, email etiquette expert and founder of NetManners.com about how to recover if you find yourself guilty of one of the following six email mishaps.

1. Sending an email to the wrong person

So you sent your email to Christine instead of Chris. The best way to react to this error is to send a follow-up email admitting your mistake. "Being humble and apologizing is the way to go," says Kallos. "A lot of people make the mistake of offering excuses, but that comes off as whiny and unprofessional." Say you're sorry, the email was intended for someone else, and move on.

2. CC'ing unnecessary people
If you catch wind of coworkers grumbling about your addiction to the CC feature on email, you need to re-evaluate why you're using it. CC should be used as an "FYI" function. Kallos says many employees wrongly use it to e-tattle, and you end up looking petty. Think about who really needs to be in the loop on your email, and only include those people.

3. Sending an important email with a glaring typo
You're emailing a proposal to a new client and in closing, misspell "Thanks" as "Tanks." No matter how many times you proofread your message, typos can happen. If it's something that doesn't need to be corrected, like the above typo, Kallos says to just let it go. It's a harmless mistake, and you shouldn't dwell on something so minor.

4. Using casual and abbreviated language
If your email conversations are starting to look like 140-character Twitter updates, you're probably abbreviating too much. Proper business etiquette calls for a certain level of formality and respect, and this needs to be carried over into email conversations. "By thinking you can talk to a business associate the same way you talk to a friend is simply reflective of a lack of experience and immaturity in the business world," says Kallos. If you lack proper capitalization, or use words like "lol," "thx," and "thru," cut it out and start conversing like an adult.

5. Sending large attachments

You sent an attachment that takes up the recipient's entire inbox. You should apologize and offer to resend the file using a free service like YouSendIt.com. Your recipient will respect your thoughtfulness and so will his inbox.

6. Using too many exclamation points!!!!
Peppering your email with exclamation points can make it seem like you are forcing a sense of excitement, immediacy, or sincerity. Save the exclamation points for messages that truly deserve it, like a "Congratulations!" on a product launch or new baby. If you've been over-using this little symbol of excitement, start forcing yourself to use a period nearly every time you want to do otherwise. You'll appear more confident and professional, and in turn be taken more seriously.

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