We have all committed e-mail mistakes. We have seen a personal message sent to one recipient appear on mailing lists, we have sent impulsive e-mails while hot-headed, we have accidentally sent e-mails to the wrong recipients, we have misspelled names of important people, and so forth.
An opinion poll conducted by America Online and Opinion Research Corporation in the year 2005 listed features that e-mail users desire.
- 43% of the respondents asked for the ability to un-send a message that has not been read
- 43% of the respondents asked for the ability to track where an e-mail has been forwarded
- 27% of the respondents asked for a lock on e-mail so it cannot be forwarded
- 27% of the respondents asked for a pop-up that asks the user to double-check who they are sending the e-mail to
- 14% of the respondents asked for the ability to un-send a message that has already been read
Guidelines to Avoid E-mail Embarrassments
The technology of e-mails is such that you lose control over the content and distribution of an e-mail message as soon as you send it. Here are a few guidelines to avoid potential embarrassments from e-mails.
- Be judicious to whom you send e-mail to, and who you copy on e-mails. Use the ‘To’ field to list e-mail addresses of people who need to take action. Use the ‘CC’ (carbon copy) field to list e-mail addresses of people who need to be informed. Do not copy e-mails just to keep other people ‘in-the-loop.’
- ‘Reply to All’ only if you really need your message to be read by everyone who received the original message.
- Always examine the ‘To’ field before you compose a personal reply to an e-mail you received through a mailing list.
- Do not forward to any message you received via ‘BCC’ (blind carbon copy.) Reply to the sender only, if necessary.
- Ask the sender for appropriateness before forwarding any sensitive information you received from him/her.
- Assume that any message that can be misunderstood will be misunderstood. Proof-read the content before you send out e-mails. Read the message from the recipients’ perspective and examine if you can edit your composition to avoid possible misinterpretations.
- Never send an e-mail when angry. After composing the e-mail, wait for an hour or two before sending your e-mail. Examine alternate means for relaying your information and closing the communication loop.
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