9 Things You Should NEVER Do in a Work Email
Between the big things like salary negotiation strategies and the little things, like body language mistakes and nailing your business card design, there are plenty of opportunities at the office to mess up. But thanks to these nine HR and talent pros, there’s one medium we won’t have to worry about making a mistake in: email. Read on for the things you should NEVER do over everyone’s favorite office communication tool.
1. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say face-to-face. “A good rule of thumb is to never say anything you wouldn’t want forwarded to the entire company. More times than I can count, I’ve been in situations where someone badmouths a coworker, and through one tiny typing slip-up (or one passive-aggressive forward) it ends up in the wrong hands. When in doubt, keep it nice and professional.” — Adrian Granzella Larssen, Editor-in-Chief of The Muse
2. Don’t criticize. “If you have to give performance feedback, discuss an issue or constructively criticize someone, it needs to be done via phone or in person. Don’t put anything in an email that you wouldn’t want hanging in the break room. Never gossip or talk about others via email. It is inappropriate and unprofessional.” — Krisha Buehler, HR Manager and Culture Cultivator at eaHELP
3. Don’t say “hey.” “Using the term ‘hey’ is one of the worst salutations you can use in a work email. Not only does it bring a casual feeling to the conversation, but studies have shown that it is received negatively, and some people even get offended when the word is used to start an email.” — Evan Harris, Co-Founder and HR Director of SD Equity Partners
4. Don’t email upset. “You never want to air your frustrations or grievances or anything that you wouldn’t want to see published with your byline. Think of the phrases we sometimes use to preface most of those types of conversations: ‘between you and me,’ ‘I hate to say it, but…’ and so on.” — Lisa Oyler, HR Director at Access Development
5. Don’t get personal. “Avoid sharing personal information. It can become an official record, ammunition or an embarrassment that never dies. People forward things without giving it much thought and they probably didn’t edit the email before hitting send.” — Sharon DeLay, President and Owner of BoldlyGO
6. Don’t say too much. “You should never say too much in a work email. Although tools like Slack help reduce the number of emails we receive in a day at work, there are still too many emails sent back and forth. Be concise in your emails and get to the point. I used to have a tendency to write emails that were too long and a boss taught me that it’s best to summarize information very quickly.” — Adena DeMonte, Head of Marketing, Reflektive
7. Don’t ask if it makes sense. “Emails are notorious sources of miscommunication. If you have to write, “Does that make sense?” in a work email, don’t hit send. Instead, reword the email until you’re confident that it does make sense, or else have the conversation in person.” — Kelli Newman, Head of People Operations at FabFitFun
8. Don’t lie. “Recruiters have a sixth sense for honesty. For example, I once had a candidate cancel an interview at the last minute saying he’d gotten in a car accident — he even sent me a photo. It looked a little fishy to me so I looked it up and sure enough, it was pulled from the first page of a Google image search. Needless to say, we didn’t follow up with him.” — Rachel Bitte, Chief People Officer at Jobvite
9. Don’t pass the blame. “Never say in a work email, ‘That’s not my problem.’ Not only is it unprofessional, but it also speaks volumes about how much you care (or don’t) about the company’s success. In the workplace, it’s important to be a team player and problem solver.” — Dana Case, Director of Operations at mycorporation.com
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(Photos via Getty)