Sadly an email sent is rarely if ever deleted. There is always someone somewhere who will have kept a copy and produce it just when you least expected.
Yes, in Outlook you can recall an email. However as soon as one sees that recall message I defy anyone not to be tempted to open the offending email!
Here are a few recent email scandals where the sender is probably bitterly regretting they ever sent the original email.
There is nothing new about emails you wish you had never sent. It is that somehow we never seem to learn good email etiquette and that email sent, is an email kept for life. Within everyday business you can take three easy steps to reduce the risk of creating an email scandal.
1. Resist hitting Reply All – check who is in the To and CC address box and make sure you are sending it to the right people.
2. Think and re-read your email before hitting send. Ask yourself what if this turned up on the wrong person’s desk?
3. Practice the art of ‘slow email’. Write a rule to put every email into a holding pattern before it leaves your inbox.
For more suggestions see Mesmo Consultancy video on how the manage the risks of cyber crime and leaking confidential information.
How do you have a preferred way to manage these risks to ensure you have no regrets about the emails you send?
The English language is complicated enough for those who did not learn Latin at school. Spell and grammar checkers are hailed as tools of the digital age which should make our lives easier. However, they are useless at picking up on the errors generated by using Homonyms. These are words which sound the same but are spelt differently. Here are some examples.
How often have you said you will arrange a meeting in mourning (for whom) when naturally you mean the morning? Certainly as one who struggles with mild dyslexia I have made many errors despite emails being be read on screen and paper and spell checked.
As if this is not enough, there are the Homophones, those words which sound and are spelt the same but have different meanings. These are so well illustrated by Lynne Truss’s book ‘ Eats Shoots and Leaves’. Surely a must for anyone who is either a grammar pedant or cares about their email etiquette. One of my favourite Homophones is ‘Rose’. For example:
Are we planting a rose before our partner rose from bed because they drank too much rose coloured wine last night?
There have been several articles recently about the importance of grammar in business and some have suggested that better grammar is linked to how high you climb the corporate greasy pole.
What is clear from Mesmo Consultancy’s studies is that grammatically correct emails help reduce email overload because they convey the right message right first time. Additionally, good email etiquette as in good grammar conveys a professional image and most importantly make it easy for the recipient to know what is being asked of them.
Next time before hitting send, pause, take the slow email approach and re-read before hitting send. Make sure the human touch pervades over the arrogance of the spell checker.
This is an edited extract from my new book Taking Control of Your Inbox due out in late November. Watch this space for more news.
Michael Einstein of Email Overload Solutions recently wrote about listening properly before replying. For us at Mesmo Consultancy this so resonated with all we say about think before hitting send we wanted to share it with you (and for which he gave us permission).
Listening is a critical part of communication. It is an activity many people take for granted yet perform quite poorly. Active listening can help greatly improve your communication with others.
It is very easy to “hear” but can be very difficult to actually “listen”. Have you ever found yourself planning a response to someone before they even finished speaking?
Has listening just become a game of waiting for the time for when someone stops speaking so that you can start talking yourself? This is where active listening can be improve your communication abilities. Stephen R. Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change”, wisely said:
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply”.
How many time have you hit send before you have really read and thought through what the sender is saying? Here are Mesmo Consultancy’s top five tips to improve your email listening and communication skills.
What can we learn from the Sony hacking 2014 saga? First and foremost no one is immune from cyber crime, regardless of the technology you put in place. Second is just how nasty, vengeful and determined are today’s hackers. Third, nothing is confidential once committed to email.
It is not just the scale of the attack (possibly costing Sony up to $200M) and the stealing of corporate confidential data which should be ringing alarm bells.
It is all the in-fighting and bickering which the leaked emails disclosed which should be raising the fire alarm in every CEOs ears (regardless of the business’s size and sector).
Why is that email seduces us into committing vituperative words to the archives? We would never put them down on pen and paper and if we did they would most probably be shredded before they were ever sent.
Perhaps one reason is the 24 x 7 x 365 world in which we live and the feeling that we must either respond and say what’s on our mind regardless of what might happen to these words. Equally email does not have the tactile sense of permanency of paper. Although that might change now with such a high profile hacking incident.
What lessons can lesser mortals and smaller businesses learn from such a malicious attack? From the email perspective here are my key learning points.
We have helped many clients prevent emails wars. For a free consultation on how we can help you and your organisation reduce the risk of damaging your brand and professional reputation please contact us by email or phone us now.