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Business Email Informality and Mistakes in Judgment

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

Once we discover they have been made, how we handle email errors, whether in judgment or oversights, separates the professionals from the rest. In particular, the biggest mistake in business emails is not paying attention to your actions.

Assuming an informal approach is a common misstep regarding your business email communications. You then neglect to give your email the attention required for the best results.

I understand that point of view with non-business personal emails. However, never underestimate the importance of formality in business email communications.

Business is Not Informal

Examples of an informal approach? Here are 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 include hitting Reply to All to CYA, embarrassing others, or playing politics.
  • You are 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 mainly 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 disgruntled business contacts.

Part of using technology and email properly for business, a.k.a. commercial gain, is thinking 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 send to everyone you know in the To field, exposing your contacts to strangers. There is no excuse for this breach of privacy. Let your connections know you have seen the light and will never do such a thing again.

These are just a few things that can impact your business relationships negatively. 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 humility by reflecting on personal accountability for your actions. If you make a mistake, don’t compound the issue by offering excuses for not paying attention. That’s a red flag that other matters in your business purview are probably not being considered.

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

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