Everyone, at one time or another, has said something they regret. Maybe it was mean, incorrect or it led to a misunderstanding of some sort. It’s bad enough when it’s spoken, but when it’s in email, the breach can be tougher to repair. Your poor judgment and poor grammar can be shared over and over again.
Here are seven things you should leave out of all professional emails.
Professional emails should be kept as polished and formal as possible. This isn’t the place for all lowercase letters, text language (gr8, lol, thx) or informal greetings such as “Hiya!” Another red flag: emoticons. “This is not high school and this person is not your friend,” says Adi Bittan, CEO of OwnerListens, a company that encourages private communication between businesses and customers to avoid negative online reviews.
Long Winded Requests and Explanations
Bittan also dislikes long-winded email explanations or requests. People are busy, Bittan says. So keep your comments as brief as possible. No one needs to read the 12 steps that led to your flat tire this morning; just say you’re going to be late.
If you are having a disagreement with a coworker, or see potential for one, career coach Farnoosh Brock recommends you take the conversation offline. It’s easier to fly off the handle over a keyboard and say things you’d never say in person, plus “the last thing you need is a miscommunication via email to make matters worse.”
Brock also thinks an offline discussion is better for raising any issues or complaints about your coworkers. “This is not just avoiding gossip, which you must always do, in and out of email. This is about never speaking negatively about another co-worker. Leave those [remarks] for in-person conversations.”
Resigning from a job via email may feel great at the time, but it’s unprofessional and will likely burn some bridges. Brock says it's occasionally fine to accept a job via email, but it is never okay to resign that way. "Be professional and place a call in to your boss to discuss it live so that you save your reputation for possible future business relations.”
Extra Words That Undermine Your Message
Often in an effort to be polite and cooperative, people will overdo it and wind up undermining themselves. Filler phrases such as "I’m sorry to bother you, but…” or “I might be completely wrong here, but…” will make you seem unsure of yourself, as if you are lacking skills or experience.
“Never write ‘Does this make sense?’ in a professional email. That is a question best asked of yourself before you hit send,” advises Emily Konouchi, director of content and communications for Emma, an email marketing company. If you feel your message may be unclear, fix it before sending.
Any Email Lacking the Company Voice
Every company has a unique voice, says Kelly Caldwell, dean of faculty at Gotham Writers’ Workshop. Any communications that stray from that voice can be disastrous. Some companies ban all personal discussion or information in emails. “In another corporate environment, however, if you never offer a compliment, check on someone's ailing father, inquire about a stressful project, or exhibit any interest in the personal sides of your coworkers, you will quickly be branded as standoffish, or worse. The consequences of that -- distrust and ostracism -- can also be dire.” Pay attention to your company’s voice and don’t deviate.
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