You could probably fill a book with email mishaps. Some could be merely funny, but others could cost someone their job.

Even with the use of text messaging and instant messaging, email is still the most popular method of communication in the workplace. Whether emails are being sent between coworkers or to clients, it’s one of the fastest ways to share information with other work-related individuals.

Most professionals understand that there is email etiquette to follow, but some of us don’t realize that those emails we send out could actually be hurting our reputation. Taking a few extra seconds can help you avoid the following email mistakes:

1. Poor spelling and/or grammar.

You don’t have to be a professional writer to send an error-free email—there are built-in spell checkers on most email platforms to help you correct your misspellings. Communications that are acceptable on Twitter and via text message are not acceptable in email. I recently received an email about a job inquiry in all lowercase. Needless to say, I never even looked at the resume. Sending an email to your clients that contains poor grammar and/or spelling can tell them that you don’t care too much about quality, and that can make them rethink their relationship with you.

2. Responding too fast.

We are all busy, and sometimes these hectic schedules force us to quickly scan through emails and reply with rapid speed. While your coworkers and clients may enjoy the quick response, responding too quickly can backfire. You could end up responding to someone you did not intend to include in the conversation. It could also force you to respond out of anger (if the initial email upset you), and this could cause a variety of problems for you and those you work with. Plus, responding too quickly is how you end up with spelling and grammatical errors, so take a moment and slow down before hitting send.

3. Not responding fast enough.

I know. This one seems to counteract the aforementioned, but not responding fast enough is also a problem. If you receive a barrage of emails everyday, you know how hard it is to keep up, but that doesn’t give you permission to simply ignore answering your coworkers or clients. If others have been trying to contact you via email for days and you don’t respond, it is telling your boss, co-workers or clients that you’re not able to manage all of your responsibilities. Simply acknowledge receipt of an email and let the recipient know you will be back to them soon with more details.

4. Sending an email to the wrong person.

Sending an email to the wrong person can have a variety of outcomes: from leaking confidential information to calling someone out in front of their peers on group message. Pay close attention to the email address you put in the “To” field and be sure your email content is really meant for all before you hit “Reply All”.

5. Know when it’s time to pick up the phone.

We sometimes joke about the fact that phones were once actually used to talk with someone. I know it’s easier to craft a well thought out email and hit send than face an uncomfortable situation. In almost every case, it is best to face the music. People would not respond nearly as heated on the phone or in person as they would online. In other cases, you might just need an answer right away. People still respond to a ringing phone. You would be surprised how fast a call can eliminate confusion and expedite answers.


What is your worst email faux pas? We know you have one! Please share in the comments section below.

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