This is my first post of this week and I talking about some non-technical topic.

Over the last few months, I feel that my “email writing skills” have improved greatly. What does that mean? What are typically the problems when people communicate thru mails? What are problems with “email recall”. I thought of dedicating one of my post for this important aspect of day-today work and improve it further.

Typical mistakes that happen while emailing:

1. Sent to wrong person (not verifying that the person to whom you are sending mail is the right audience)

2. Doing “Reply” or “Reply all” out of context. While the first version may cause little damage (only few persons getting mail as against all in the mail thread), second version causes mail JAM. Sometimes not knowing that you are doing “Reply all” and talk about something thinking that you are doing only “Reply“(lets your manager know your frustration that you are sharing with your peer!!!) can cause havoc.

3. Forgetting attachments - This generally arises out of “urgent work”. In the mail, you refer to some document then talk about it in the whole mail - but forget to make the attachment

4. This is a corollary to point No: 3. It so happens that at Friday at 7:00 PM when (you are planning to go out station for a weekend party - rushing up) are asked to send a mail with all the documents related to that morning's meeting to somebody across the globe. You make the zip file out of all those imp documents and send the mail in hurry (with the zip file attachment off course) and you go home and enjoy thinking that everything went well.  It would be really frustrating when you notice on Monday morning that the mail did not reach other side at all as the mail attachment size exceeded the limit set by server.

5. Doing or not doing spell check on the content. Having spelling and grammar check is good but blindly depending on the spell/Grammar check to do all “proof reading“ for you for that all important mail that you are sending to your manager or client is “not good”. I have had few instances where it just made blunders while checking for errors. At the same time, not having spell check is also not good. One has the option of setting spelling and grammar check as default or set it by case-to-case basis. I have set it to default and working fine for me.

6. Writing big mails having paragraphs running into 50-75 sentences each.

7. Sending half-backed mails - when you are not completely done with the mail but accidentally hitting Alt S or send.

8. Recalling mails - I don’t know how many people really feel that it works and minimizes the damage done by wrong mail.

9. Referring to some links in the mail - to network shares or web sites that are broken. This type of mistake can be life threatening e.g. sending a mail to your manager or to a large group of influential people pointing them to a file share (detailing your work on “How to be effective at work“ ) on the hard disk of your laptop or to a share that does not have required permissions.

10. A bit lighter one - Expanding on (+) “group alias or distribution list“- this breaks rules that people might have based on alias name. I did that once to know who all are there in the list and got this friendly suggestion from one of my peer.

In part 2 of this topic, I am planning to touch upon few do's that I am following with good degree of success to have “Good track record” of mails.

I request all of you, reading this post to register the problems you faced with wrong mails and say few words about how did you come out of them. Also do share the best practices that you follow.

Thanks in advance

Shrini