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Email Informality and Mistakes in Judgment

Business Email Mistakes Happen -- it's how you handle them.

How we handle email errors, whether they be in judgment or oversights once we discover they have been made, is what separates the professionals from the rest. In particular, the biggest mistake for business emails is not paying attention to what you are doing.

When it comes to your business email communications, assuming an informal approach is a common misstep. You then neglect to give your email the attention required for the best results.

I can understand that point of view with personal emails between family and friends. However, never underestimate the importance of formality in business email communications.

Business is Not Informal

Examples of an informal approach? A few examples off the top of my head…

  • Lack of a greeting, closing, or proper sentence structure to set the desired tone.
  • Simple actions such as hitting Reply to All to CYA, embarrass others, or play politics.
  • Adding business contacts to your email blasts that do not “need to know” (or didn’t ask to be on your list).

The above are errors or mistakes in judgment, primarily because we are taking an informal approach.

Informalities Lead to Misunderstandings

We do this most of the time because we are in a rush and do not pay attention to details. Just know that when you rush, you risk errors that can create unimpressed or even disgruntled business contacts.

Part of using technology and email properly for business, a.k.a. commercial gain, is taking the time to think about how your actions can garner the best perception possible. And how those actions, or lack thereof, may impact the other side.

You made these mistakes, now what?

  • You send comments inadvertently to the wrong person, are overly informal, or improper. When you discover your mistake, immediately apologize. And not necessarily by email. Only you know the magnitude of your error. If necessary, have the intestinal fortitude to apologize in person. When that is not possible, pick up your phone.
  • When a contact asks to be removed from your list that they didn’t ask to be on in the first place, promptly, kindly and professionally honor their request, including an apology for any inconvenience; only this approach contributes to salvaging the relationship.
  • You sent to everyone you know in the To field, thereby exposing your contacts to strangers. There is no excuse for this breach of privacy. Let your connections know you have now seen the light and will never do such a thing again.

These are just a few things that can impact your business relationships in a negative manner. Don’t be like so many and point fingers or create excuses when you mess up. It is just that attitude that causes many to fail (at their job, business, or even personal life).

Stand Tall and Accountable

Instead, stand out from the crowd and show some humility by reflecting personal accountability for your actions. If you make a mistake, don’t compound the issue by offering excuses for why you weren’t paying attention. That’s a red flag that other matters in your business purview are probably also not being minded to.

Learning from the experience and offering a prompt apology is a true sign character. And character is one of the main reasons people will choose to do business with you.

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