There are really more than three things that we can think of to not include in an email – but these three top the list in terms of frequency or severity. In no particular order, these are what you should not do in an email…
Don’t type when you’re angry
Typing while you’re still angry is no different than having an argument where the other person is not talking back – it’s not going to end well. Usually it’s best to cool off first…get a bite to eat or just wait 24 hours before you allow yourself to respond and when you come back, you can present a clear and logical presentation of your view.
Don’t gossip about co-workers
This rule could really be generalized to something like “Don’t put anything in email that you wouldn’t want your priest/rabbi/cleric to read.” In other words, stay away from non business matters because you don’t know who is reading your emails (besides your recipients) in an office environment.
Don’t put anything you don’t want to become public
Ask yourself this question before hitting send: What if everyone were to read this? Would it spell legal or moral issues? If you have any doubts, it takes just a few seconds to pick up the phone or go have a face to face meeting with someone.
As an aside, our Safeguard Send tool can be used to catch some of these occurrences by looking for, and flagging you when, phrases like these appear in the email: “I am so pissed at”, or “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this but”, or “Are we even allowed to do this?”. Find out more about Safeguard Send at http://www.SperrySoftware.com/Outlook/Safeguard-Send.asp.