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Top 10 E-mail Mistakes


Has your office’s e-mail system ever gone down? Remember that panic you felt? That feeling of helplessness? Today, conducting business without the luxury of e-mail is unthinkable – downright prehistoric. It’s become an indispensable business tool, yet many people don’t treat it with the gravity it deserves. Far too often, professionals fire off half-formed thoughts or messages rife with errors.

Of the many mistakes made via e-mail every day, here are the Top 10 according to

1. Not reading over what you have written. Please proof your e-mail before hitting the send button! Spelling and grammar errors will not impress a potential client. Think about it. Would you type up a letter, find an envelope, attach a stamp and mail it out without reading it over first? Why would you do so with something as simple to edit as e-mail?

2. Overreliance on e-mail. The business world has become increasingly impersonal. Instead of getting up and walking two feet to talk to a boss or co-worker, we send an e-mail. Get up! Move around! Talk to the people you work with each day.

3. Failing to respond promptly. Don’t let e-mails sit in your inbox unanswered. If you’ll be out of town or out of the office, use your e-mail client’s auto-reply function to let people know when you’ll respond to them. I can’t speak for everyone but I certainly don’t like being ignored.

4. Form e-mails. Clients and other business associates appreciate a personal touch. Even if the volume of e-mail you receive forces you to depend on “canned” e-mail responses, add a personal greeting or otherwise personalize your form e-mails. Everyone likes to feel important every now and then.

5. Replying to the wrong party. If the e-mail was sent to everyone in the office and you only need to respond to one person, do not hit Reply to All. Likewise, if you mean to forward an e-mail, be sure not to hit Reply. PAY ATTENTION when responding to e-mails, and check the To line before you finally hit Send.


6. Conducting urgent communications via e-mail. Not everyone checks e-mail every five minutes. If something comes up and you need a prompt answer, pick up the phone and call the person you need to speak to. You never know – they could be out of the office that day.


7. Using confusing e-mail addresses. Whenever possible, your e-mail address should be your first initial and last name @ your company, first name @ your company, or both names together perhaps separated by an underscore or a dot @ your company. Do not throw in numbers, middle initials, or the nickname your grandmother calls you.


8. Continuing endless e-mail correspondence. You do not need to include the full text of an e-mail thread. Delete everything but the text of the most recent message; it makes e-mail much easier to read and deal with.


9. Rambling. Many people prefer to conduct business via e-mail because it saves time. Keep your e-mail messages short and to the point.



10. Ignoring attachment etiquette. Below are a few rules for sending an e-mail with an attachment:

  • Do not open an attachment from anyone you don’t know, unless you’ve been told to expect such an attachment.
  • When sending an attachment, make it clear in the body of the e-mail what the attachment consists of.
  • Do not assume the recipient has the software to view your attachment. Find out ahead of time.