E-mail Faux Pas of the Month

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In my February newsletter I wrote about the ongoing issue of e-mail etiquette.  At the risk of repeating myself, there seems to be no end to the growing list of e-mail mishaps and mistakes.  The more we and others use e-mail, the greater the chances of creating an online communication problem.

One of my subscribers recently sent me her e-mail horror story. She graciously gave me permission to quote her, but requested that I not share her name or the name of the prestigious resort where she works.

Here is her story:

“I am not sure if you have addressed this. It applies to email but even more so to Blackberries when we  quickly shoot out a response and use internal lingo or abbreviations.  I have a particular story about a terribly embarrassing faux pas.  I got an email lead for a potential piece of business at 4:55 PM and wanted to reply prior to 5 PM. Even as I was speaking with a co-worker, I was sending a response from my Blackberry to one of our assistants that I would be the one to respond to the would-be client and not to assign this to one of the catering managers.  I wrote ‘Donna, I will f/up on this one’. 

In my haste I accidentally hit reply and the potential client immediately responded with ‘Well, that doesn’t sound encouraging’.  I realized right away that I had hit reply rather than forward.  That was my first mistake. It took me a couple times reading my reply to see what could have prompted the strange response from the recipient. Then it hit me.  To my horror she had misunderstood my ‘f/up,’ our internal lingo for ‘follow up’ as something else and thought I would be sabotaging her meeting.    I had to endure a painfully long weekend until Monday morning at 8:01 AM when I could contact her to clear up the miscommunication.  Luckily we had a good laugh and I got the event.  Wow – did I ever learn a lesson on that one!”

The lessons learned from that incident should be obvious.

  1. Never send e-mail in haste. Take a deep breath and think before firing off your response.
  2. Concentrate.  Multi-tasking can come with a high price.
  3. If you are replying to or forwarding e-mail, double check to see whose name is in the send box.
  4. Beware of your internal lingo and abbreviations.  They could, as this one did, end up in the wrong inbox.

Perhaps e-mail should come with a warning label.

Please send me your worst e-mail nightmare.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

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