Top 5 worst workplace email faux pas

Inboxes are a minefield of the most awkward correspondence

Top 5 worst workplace email faux pas

It’s a busy week and your inbox is flooded with tons of email. The HR director is requesting a report and you reply quickly with the attachment. Sent!

A few minutes later, you realise the PDF you thought you’d clicked on was actually a GIF.  

Email is still the world’s most popular medium for exchanging notes and files. In fact, by the end of 2019, the number of emails sent and received daily is expected to hit close to 250 billion. That’s just on a single day.

Mailboxes are sure to be a minefield of the most awkward and awful correspondence – and the office inbox is no exception. We’ve compiled five of the worst email faux pas at work:

Sending the wrong attachment
We’ve all sent the wrong file (or even forgotten to attach one) in a business email at one point in our professional lives. But when it’s your personal files that are sent out, your career just might be on the line. In 2015, a new hire at a Chicago firm was immediately terminated when he sent his nude photos by mistake straight to the HR manager.

Hitting Reply All
Group emails are the worst productivity killer once people start clicking ‘Reply All’ one by one, trapping all other recipients in an endless loop. This happened recently to employees of no less than Microsoft after a company-wide email was circulated and more than 11,500 recipients kept receiving notifications of how to update their GitHub settings.

Missing or using an inappropriate subject line
Forgetting to include a subject line in a short email may be forgivable. But when the message itself is two paragraphs long (or longer) with multiple content points, it’s best to give the recipient a quick snapshot of the message through the subject line. This sums up the content and prompts people to take appropriate action.

Marking regular email as URGENT!
Tagging emails with a red exclamation point helps people to prioritise the really urgent matters of the day. But when simple everyday concerns are marked ‘high priority’ even when they are not, the sender just might earn the ire of busy co-workers.

Inappropriate use of Cc and Bcc
Ccing and Bccing are two methods of communicating the same message to two sets of audiences. Ccing works when the recipients are obligated and/or entitled to receive the reply of all other parties included in the message. Bccing is reserved for recipients who require only the initial update but not the entire conversation thread. One email etiquette most senders forget is acknowledging the names of recipients placed on Bcc. It’s good practice to let other people know who else is in the loop, all in the spirit of transparency.

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