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On average, we spend 28% of our working week reading and replying to emails. That is 582 hours in a year! With so much time spent on this quick communication tool, we are all bound to slip up at some point. On one particularly embarrassing occasion I put kisses at the end of an email to a co-worker because I wasn’t paying attention; a quick apology cleared it up, but there are some email mistakes that could break your career.

1. Cool down before you email!

If you find yourself writing an email in anger or frustration, STOP!!! Calm down and come back to it later. Nothing worse than being a keyboard warrior , people will remember that and not in a good way.

2. Say “hello” and “goodbye”

This is common politeness. If you don’t acknowledge your colleague or your customer in an email and start appropriately then you can come across as brusque. Make each and every person feel special and that you took the time to acknowledge them properly.

3. Don’t hide behind your email

We all know one person who doesn’t like to pick up the phone but if you are that person then it could damage your credibility in the workplace. Sometimes face to face is needed and if you don’t save peoples time they will remember you as a time waster.

4. Don’t use chat language

We all know what appropriate language for a work email is, but I sometimes get emails from people I have just met containing LOL, ROFL and LMAO. This isn’t appropriate and will raise some eyebrows from those who think “haha” is just about acceptable.

5. Carbon copy versus blind copy

Sometimes distribution lists should stay private and you should be extra careful when using them. Including multiple customers email in one is a no-go and a career limiting move. When using cc and bcc just take an extra second to check you have them correct.

6. Reply all

You will probably be cc’d in multiple group emails a day, you know they get annoying so why do some people insist on replying to everyone when they want to send a smiley face? It clogs up your colleague’s inbox too.

7. Avoid sending waffle emails

When using email, be concise and keep it short. If your colleagues wanted to read an epic novel they would go to a library. Detailed emails are great when you want to convey information all at once but over time people won’t read your emails because they will come to expect something lengthy and possibly dull.

8. ALWAYS Proofread!

There have been some hilarious email fails over the years but none more so than when you make a typo with an innuendo. It happens more than you think. I once wrote “can I borrow that boob” instead of bulb. Take 10 seconds to proof-read each email, it’ll pay off.

9. Be mindful that anyone could read your emails

I personally have seen emails about myself that have then been shown to me. It’s not nice and burns people’s bridges fast. If you write anything in an email, don’t be naïve and think that it won’t be seen by other people and is private, it isn’t and could land you in hot water.

10. Forwarding emails – get permission always!

This plays to my above point, if you receive something in confidence or the information contained is highly confidential, do not pass it on without the author’s approval. People have lost their jobs over this before as it can sometimes have a ‘snowball’ effect.

Most daily emails are harmless and sometimes a chore, have you had any hilarious email mishaps? I would love to hear them.



Catherine works in international marketing and events, she has a passion for sharing her knowledge to help others in their career. A keen traveler she has lived in New Zealand, China and England, and explored a lot more of the world; Catherine describes herself as a cup half full and embraces her busy life at 100mph.

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