Ten e-mail blunders

POSTED: 8:43 a.m. EST, February 5, 2007
By Kate Lorenz

(CareerBuilder.com) — Did you know American workers receive an average of 134 e-mails daily? E-mail volume in the U.S. is expected to reach nearly 2.7 trillion in 2007. (Of that, 9 out of every 10 e-mails will be spam) But the simple act of hitting “send” can prove disastrous. Before you send your next e-mail, consider these e-mail warnings.

1. Whether you work for the White House, a non-profit organization or corporate America, what you say and send in an e-mail can be used against you. Fourteen percent of workplace e-mail is subpoenaed in lawsuits, according to Nancy Flynn, executive director at the ePolicy Institute in Columbus, Ohio. Ask the employees of Enron.

2. Don’t send sexually explicit e-mails. Take a cue from the Mark Foley scandal: E-mail is not the place to send illicit messages to anyone, especially young boys or girls.

3. Remember that there’s no such thing as a confidential e-mail. E-mail messages can be forwarded, and forwarded and forwarded. What you write in confidence to one colleague could become the newest laughing stock post on someone else’s blog.

4. Don’t use e-mail to carry on love affairs. You may find it titillating to exchange electronic love notes with your paramour, but it could cost you your job or your marriage. Consider Boeing’s CEO Harry Stonecipher who stepped down after a series of e-mails exposed an illicit affair with a co-worker.

5. Harassment and discrimination have no place in the workplace — or cyberspace. Keep off-color jokes and rude remarks to yourself. A survey of 840 U.S. businesses revealed 13 percent of companies had battled workplace lawsuits triggered by employee e-mails, including harassment, discrimination and hostile workplace claims.

6. Assume all chain letters are a hoax. Just delete them. Your friends won’t desert you and you’ll not lose out on incredible riches. Even chain letters that ask you to help a charitable cause, while the content may seem bona fide, the senders often are not.

7. Use the ‘reply all’ feature sparingly. You only meant to reply back to the sender with a smart aleck remark, but instead you hit ‘reply all.’ Now everyone knows what you think of the big boss… including the big boss.

8. Don’t paste massive lists into the ‘to’ section. Not everyone on your buddy list wants their e-mail address shared with everyone else. If you must e-mail to a diverse group outside your own company, consider entering your list in the BCC field and addressing the actual e-mail to yourself.

9. BCC isn’t always blind. This combines the worst of the two previous warnings. When a recipient selects ‘reply to everyone,’ those listed in the BCC field will now show up in the new sender’s ‘to’ field. If you don’t want your BCC recipients revealed to others, send them a separate e-mail.

10. Read your company’s e-mail policy. One-fourth of respondents to a survey of U.S. businesses reported firing employees for violating e-mail policies. Be warned: What you don’t know could hurt you.

© Copyright CareerBuilder.com 2007. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority


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