Email is everywhere now and it’s use is as common as drinking tea for most of us, however this ease of use means we are often very hasty to fire something off that we really shouldn’t. One moment of madness can result in someone being upset or even worse, a big headline and news reports for everyone to see.
As Damian McBride discovered to his downfall, you really shouldn’t try to use email to bring down the opposition because you might be the one looking for work.
Technology and its (mis)use seems to be hitting the headlines every other day at the moment and you’d think that the machines have had enough and are wreaking their revenge. For so long we’ve seen technology, computers and mobile Internet as great liberators and freedom givers, but are they actually restricting what we can do and making life far more difficult?
Writing emails has just become too easy. Many people fire them off without even considering the content or what we may be saying too or about other people. The ease with which we can rant at someone or air our grievance without having to face them means that send button can very easily cause offence.
So, how can we ensure that we’re careful with what we say, do and write about and save yourself the embarrassment of having to apologise? Follow a few really easy steps and you’ll be OK:
Remember, email is open, don’t say something you wouldn’t say to everyone.
Unless you encrypt your emails in some way then essentially, they are really easy to intercept and read by someone else on their way to the recipient. Email is the technological equivalent of a postcard and your IT staff can very easily pop in to your account and pick them up.
Do you have your emails hosted by a third party company? It comes through a web server, right? How do you know they’re not taking a copy of each one? It’s possible and it’s easy. Someone with the right password could just access the server and read everything you’re saying about them.
Never, ever, ever say something in an email that is disparaging about someone else. Just don’t do it. I have a rule – don’t disrespect anyone through email be it a customer, a colleague or an employee. It’s far too easy for them to read it and get upset. Moreover, your email to another person about someone else could be seen as bullying – want to be on the wrong end of a harassment trial? Exactly.
Delay your email – think before you send
Add a mail rule to your sent items that puts a five minute delay on each email. Yes, this annoying if you’re trying to send something quickly but it can also save your bacon. Outlook makes this really easy, just do it.
Never blind copy
Why would you BCC anyone? What’s the point? I’ve had this happen to me so many times in the past that I can say from first had what an absolute danger it can be. For some reason those who use the BCC function seem to think that by ‘letting someone in’ on the conversation that the original recipient doesn’t know about will somehow give them some brownie points.
Not so. A work colleague from years back decided to blind copy my boss in on some emails that he was sending to me, berrating my customer relationship technique (I always thought it was good to be nice to customers, he thought otherwise). Because I knew the power of email, every single one of my responses was measured and very carefully written – I could see this could end in tears.
I didn’t have to worry. My colleague had sealed his own fate and was now wrestling with a P45.
In summary, email is dangerous – be careful what you say and who you say it to and you’ll be OK, but if you get angry in an email and begin to send the flames of anger across the Internet, don’t be surprised when someone pulls you up on it.