Email mistakes seem minor, until you accidentally send a private message to the whole office. Watch out for these message mistakes.
Decades ago, the main form of communication in the workplace involved paper and ink. Since the internet’s arrival, electronic communications have steadily taken over. These days, most organizations have largely replaced internal and external paper communications with email.
And why shouldn’t they? Email is fast and convenient. In 2020, more than 300 billion emails were sent and received daily. On average, office workers receive over 120 emails a day.
While there are many benefits to using work-related email, several common mistakes lead to a great deal of waste and trouble. It’s important to become aware of them, so that those same mistakes don’t get repeated. In this article, we’ll cover the most common email mistakes that people make.
In 2020, more than 300 billion emails were sent and received daily. On average, office workers receive over 120 emails a day.
The ideal email
The ideal business email should be in a professional format. This is especially important since face-to-face body language isn’t part of the message, so it can’t convey the tone. The key to writing a good email is to use the proper structure. Additional elements to consider include:
- Format. Your email should have a clear subject line, greeting, body, conclusion, and professional email signature.
- Content. Describe the email’s purpose in clear words and then elaborate on details.
- Grammar. Run your email through spell check, and double-check it for punctuation and grammar mistakes.
- Clarity. Your message should be short and to the point, yet descriptive enough for the recipient to understand its content.
Additionally, if you need to add any attachments or if further directions need to be shared (like sending the reader to a website), it’s important that this be clear. When concluding the email, be sure to reinforce the email’s purpose. The more attention paid to an email’s structure, content, and tone, the better the chance of crafting an ideal email that is clear and easily understood.
Avoid email mistakes
Texting has become so common that people sometimes (often inadvertently) migrate their texting habits into their emails. Unfortunately, this can have serious repercussions. Messages might:
- Be misunderstood
- Perceived as unprofessional
- Damage your professional reputation
You can avoid these problems by making sure to avoid the following common mistakes.
Creating vague subject lines
A clear subject line lets the recipient know what to expect and removes any ambiguity.
People sometimes treat emails like texts and forget to start with a greeting; a “Hello,” a “Hi”, or a more formal “Dear < insert name >” does the trick.
Making grammatical errors
Poor grammar reflects badly on you and on the company, and your messages are less likely to be taken seriously.
Using too many exclamation marks
Using excessive exclamation points looks amateurish and comes across as highly unprofessional.
Not double-checking recipients’ email addresses
Confidential information, accidentally sent to the wrong email address, can lead to data breaches of sensitive information or other negative consequences for you, the intended recipient, and the company.
Not paying attention to chosen words
Slang, obscenities, and certain words that people might find improper — or worse, offensive — are big blunders.
Unnecessarily using “Reply All”
At other times, clicking Reply All by accident can lead to too much information being shared with the entire office — information that was best saved for an individual email.
While “reply all” is sometimes necessary, you create several problems by using it incorrectly. If you received a blanket email that was informational, acknowledging all of the recipients in your response is a waste of everyone’s time, and it clutters inboxes. At other times, clicking Reply All by accident can lead to too much information being shared with the entire office — information that was best saved for an individual email.
Using internal or industry lingo
People sometimes forget that not everyone can speak industry jargon, and this can lead to a very confusing message or to one that annoys recipients.
Using ALL CAPS
Capital lettering should rarely, if ever, be used. It is the equivalent of shouting at someone. If you want to make a strong point, use strongly worded sentences. The use of all capital letters distracts readers from your message.
This is a tricky one, but in general, emojis should be used sparingly and appropriately, especially in business emails. It’s common for people to interpret them differently than the sender intended.
Being overly wordy
Senders sometimes fail to get to the point. It’s easier to write long, roundabout sentences than crisp, clear ones. Sending a too-long explanation can cause people to overlook important information. Use bullet points to cover a lot of ground with fewer words. This is an example of good structure helping.
On the other hand, there is a such thing as being too curt when writing business emails, be they to coworkers or to clients. Be succinct, but also be personal and natural in tone.
Neglecting to add attachments
A common mistake is to send a message that promises an attachment, but then not to actually attach the document or other file. It forces the recipient to follow up with an email asking for the missing attachment. Your boss, coworker, or client might not appreciate fitting that dance into their busy schedules.
Flagging non-urgent emails
When sending emails, people often think that their email is a high priority, but the reality is quite different for its recipient. Only use the flag feature if a message is truly urgent and if it needs an immediate response.
Incorrectly using “to:” and “cc:”
Use “to:” for individuals who need to take action on the contents of the email. Use “cc:” for people who need the info but don’t necessarily need to reply. Another option to avoid 100 “reply all” emails is to use “bcc:” — which stands for blind carbon copy. Email addresses in “bcc:” do not appear to any recipients, and no replies will go to those “Bcc:” addresses.
These 15 blunders are ones that everyone should avoid when sending work-related emails.
Email etiquette matters
The bottom line is this: if an email contains content that would be embarrassing or that might even lead to the loss of a job, then don’t send it. A careful review of each message sent to another person can help the sender avoid many of the biggest blunders. This kind of care, along with streamlining work-related communications, can go a long way toward preventing email mistakes and other communication mistakes.
Looking to bolster electronic communications for your organization? Zenefits can help. Our experts are equipped to help business leaders and HR professionals streamline communications in the workplace.