I Can’t Believe I Just Did That! 3 Careless Email Mistakes that Can Leave a Mark

“Oops! I can’t believe I just did that!” Who hasn’t said that to themselves at one time or another?

In this break-neck, fast-paced business environment that we all live in, it’s easy to make silly mistakes when communicating with peers, prospects and clients. Generally, the errors of our rushed ways don’t cause permanent harm, but occasionally a mistake can leave a lasting mark that could tarnish your image of professionalism or cost you valuable business. So why take the chance?

With just a little thought and a tiny bit of extra time, you can greatly reduce your likelihood of making fatal foibles.

Here’s a short list of some “oops” moments that could happen to nearly anyone and a tip or two for making sure that they don’t happen to you…

Sending an email to the wrong contact

With the auto-fill features in email clients, it’s a wonder this doesn’t happen more often. Sending the wrong proposal or invoice to a client wouldn’t a great impression make. Though I’ve never erred to that degree, I admit that it has happened in a much more minor way. And so I’ve learned to be extra careful. Always, ALWAYS double-check the contacts you have in your To, CC, and BC fields.

Sending an email to ALL Contacts rather than a select group

True story: About 2 years or so ago, as volunteer editor for our church’s newsletter, I sent my normal monthly email reminder to our congregation to remind them that the deadline for submitting articles and info was on its way. When selecting the group for distribution, I immediately clicked “select all” based on the first email address that appeared in the lineup. Turns out, the first email address in my church distribution list was the first email address in my entire base of contacts. So rather than toggling to my church distribution and selecting “all” there, I had mistakenly selected ALL my contacts. Luckily, everyone was in good humor about it – and truthfully I think they had a lot of fun with it based on the (much-deserved) smarty-pants replies that I got in return. But had the subject matter and message been something altogether different, the end result could have been far more devastating than me becoming the target of some light-hearted ribbing.

Moral of the story: Check to make sure you’ve selected the appropriate group before sending a mass email. And if the group members don’t know each other or otherwise wouldn’t want to have their email addresses shared with others in the group, be sure to add the group in your BC field.

Accidentally adding an extra contact to an email

Occasionally, I catch myself almost doing this when sending an email to someone with whom I will be sharing the email address of someone else in my contacts. So that I can easily just copy and paste it into the body of the email, I’ll bring up the email address in the To field by just typing the name and letting the auto-fill feature do its thing. Works great…provided you remember to remove that email address from the To field before you send your message to its intended recipient.

Tip: Do a “cut and paste.” That way any remnants of the email won’t be formatted properly and won’t reach that unintended contact even if you goof up.

Again, mistakes happen. And they happen to all of us, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do what we can to prevent them!

I’d love to hear your email or other communications “Oops!” stories – if you dare to share! What silly mistakes have you made – or has someone you know made – that either did or could have left a mark?

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4 comments on “I Can’t Believe I Just Did That! 3 Careless Email Mistakes that Can Leave a Mark
  1. This happened at a firm I was working at before I broke away and started my own practice. A VP of the firm accidentally hit “reply to all” on an e-mail string that included a bunch of people in the office. He said some scathing things to say about a particular employee of the firm. He intended for the e-mail to go only to that person’s manager, but instead, a whole bunch of us got to see what he had to say — including the person he was ranting about!

    Needless to say, there was much drama in the office after that! And that co-worker ended up quitting a few months later.

    That incident and the surrounding drama and tension has burned it into my memory to triple-check the content, tone, and the recipient list of every e-mail I send!

    • dawnmentzer says:

      Ouch!! Yeah, I imagine there was some drama after that! Great advice, Jason – we should make it a point to learn – and not repeat! – others’ mistakes. Thanks for sharing that sample of email gone awry!

  2. AM Landry says:

    I get concerned about these things happening, too! Gmail offers a tool that gives you a couple of seconds to undo an email sending, which has saved me once or twice 🙂

    • dawnmentzer says:

      Well now…I didn’t realize you had that window of opportunity to “undo!” Thanks for the tip! I need to check that out. Hope your weekend is going great! 🙂

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