What Goes in an E-Mail


“Control your mind or it will control you.” — Horace

Kids like to keep secrets. I think it’s their way of testing who’s their friend and who isn’t. Sharing a secret with somebody is a fast way to show them you trust them. Betraying a secret is a quick way to end a friendship. Two friends who share a secret have a bond that others can’t share.

E-mails at work are not secret. While we might like to think work is a good place to make friends, work is not school. Part of acting professionally means keeping this in mind at all times, even when you’re out with your work friends for lunch or a Friday night drink.

Once you’ve hit the send button, you’ve lost control of your e-mail. You have no control over how and when it gets copied, forwarded, blind-copied, printed, distributed, posted on the Internet, blogged, framed, and published in a book on things to avoid when using e-mail. This is much worse than the play-ground “he said she said”. You’ve left an audit-able trail of evidence.

If you are writing an e-mail that you don’t want a particular person inside or outside your company to see, then you should seriously consider not sending it. You should seriously consider not writing it at all. There are many examples of the wrong e-mail being sent to the wrong person by accident. Writing a note about how the latest company policy is wrong-headed or short-sighted might feel good, but only until you hit the send button as you realize the CEO is on the distribution list. You’ve just labelled yourself as untrustworthy and lacking good judgement.

If you really feel the need to write your thoughts out, to get them ordered and out of your system, then do it in Word or another word-processing program instead. That way there’s less risk of it leaking out. Then go talk the issue out face-to-face if you can. Having thought the problem out so thoroughly, you are ready to come up a solution. Bosses appreciate people who solve problems for them. It shows loyalty and good judgement.


3 responses to “What Goes in an E-Mail

  1. Pingback: Keyboard Shortcuts « The Practical Manager

  2. Pingback: When You Get Bad Feedback « Practical Managers

  3. Pingback: Better E-Mail Made Simple | Practical Managers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s