Most email programs will populate an email address with the first few letters of someone’s name if you have communicated with them before. If you’re in a hurry, anxious about something, or your brain just isn’t working at full capacity it’s easy to just type a few letters of someone’s name and click it without looking carefully.
This happened to a client recently when he typed in Nancy and then clicked on me instead of his wife whose name is also Nancy. I received a message meant for his wife and it’s a good thing nothing intimate was said or we both would have been very embarrassed. As it turned out it was information about something going on at their son’s school. We got a good laugh out of it.
This can happen at work if you’re not careful. What if you typed the wrong addressee and wrote something nasty about a coworker or the boss? You may find yourself later on having what I call an “OH NO” moment. It hits you the wrong person was in the “send to” line.
Here are some tips to help you from having your own “OH NO” moment:
The Relevant Rule:
Only send relevant email to the relevant people. Be sure you proofread the email address, too.
Six Steps to Make Email More Mindful and Less Likely to Misfire:
- Compose your email. Think about your audience.
- Stop. Take one long, deep breath, counting to five on the inhale and again on the exhale.
- Think of your audience again and be clear about how you want your message to be received. Could the recipient(s) misunderstand and become angry or offended? Or could the recipient(s) think you are being more positive than you intend? Also, remember The Relevant Rule.
- Avoid “Pre-mature Send Syndrome”. Look at the email again. Assume your reputation is on the line every time you send an email. Are you sure you want to put in writing whatever it is you are writing? Proofread and be sure email is the best channel for you to use for this message. If not, stop and do something else (phone or in-person meeting).
- Edit the email if necessary. Proof read it again. Look at the addressee and be sure it’s the correct email address for the correct person. Proofreading is NOT a Lost Art! It should always be the last step before you hit send.