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While some things are just understood and best to leave unspoken, there are times where email is forgotten in this model. Sure you don’t want to bash your boss when they can hear you or let a coworker hear you whine about the performance. However, do you remember to be careful with your email correspondence?
Often, employees forget to be cautious with their work email. This has gotten people in trouble because emails last longer than the spoken word. In fact, they are a written record and can come back to bite you if are not considerate of what you say and how you say it.
Be sure to avoid these four types of conversations in your work email:
1. The Quality of One’s Work
Make it a habit to never talk about the performance and work quality of anyone at the office in an email. The only time this would be appropriate is if you are emailing Human Resources and it includes a personal review.
You miss the inflection of someone’s voice and can’t tell whether they are joking or being serious when you email. It is better to just avoid talking about how someone is performing because it can be misinterpreted and once it’s written, it is out there forever.
2. The Rumor Mill
Nip all gossip when it comes to your work email. The rumor mill is an ugly place to be and with email, the info is out there and can’t be changed or edited. Gossiping in an email will likely haunt you in the future.
Maybe you trust the person you are emailing completely. While that is fine, the person looking over your shoulder or theirs when the email is read could be an issue for you. Also, the email could get sent to someone by accident, forwarded, or used as something to hurt you in the future. Be safe and just avoid gossiping in your work email.
3. The Critical Eye
Don’t be overly critical by email. People get offended easily and remember the way an email comes off is in the “eye of the beholder.” You can’t be sure that they will take the criticism well. Try to keep those conversations out of email and on an in-person basis instead.
4. The Touchy Topics
Leave the touchy issues and sensitive topics out of email and discuss them in person instead. This can include discussions about pay, annual reviews, opinions about someone’s recent work, and work schedule.
You’ll be glad you avoided these four types of conversations in your work email and so will your superiors and coworkers. There is wisdom in keeping appropriate conversations on an in-person basis rather in a written record like email.
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