4 Worst Times to Send a Work Email

email with smartphone

A worker sending an email | Source: iStock

Email is a great addition to the workplace. It can make correspondence so much easier and quicker, and it can save time because it often replaces face-to-face meetings or phone calls. However, because email is so quick, it can also cause problems. Once an email is sent, the recipient will almost immediately receive your message, and if you wrote something inappropriate or misleading, the damage can be serious. Because many employees get multiple emails each day, it can be easy to quickly reply, or to respond when you are feeling emotional. Unfortunately, sending a quick response, or sending a response without thinking about what you are writing, can result in an angry recipient, and potentially, an awkward work relationship, or even termination of your job (in addition to email, be careful not to make social media mistakes). Here are four times you should hold off before sending a work email.

1. When you’re angry

It’s easy to misinterpret what someone is trying to say through email or texting. Because you can’t see the person’s face, or hear their tone, it’s easy to assume the worst or read more into what you are reading than they are actually trying to say. If you are responding to an email, and you feel angry because of what the person sent, then be sure you step away from your computer before you respond. The same is true if you are composing an email to someone you are angry at. Once you send the email, you can’t take it back (in most cases), and sending an email at work when you are angry can be a big mistake. According to Lindsay Broder writing for Entrepreneur, if you must write the angry email, leave the “to” part blank, wait for a while before you send it, and consider the risks.

2. When you’re anxious

Much like writing an email when you’re angry (or sad), writing an email when you’re anxious can also be a poor choice. Sometimes we over-analyze things when we are anxious, and sending an email when you are thinking too much with your emotions can be disastrous. If you email your boss a bunch of demanding questions about something he said, or if your job is stable, then you receive an angry response back, or you might receive no response at all. Give yourself some time to calm down and determine if you still have the same questions later. If you do, it might be best to address them in person.

3. When you’re distracted

Writing an email when you’re distracted is different than multi-tasking or having a conversation while also doing other tasks. What you write in an email is permanent in a way, so once you send it, you can’t go back and edit. If you are composing an email at your desk and someone comes by to talk to you, don’t continue to type and then send the email. If you do, you risk sending the email with several grammatical errors, and potentially, sentences that make little sense as well.

Also, if you sometimes work from home, be sure to go to a silent place away from kids, television, and pets in order to read through your emails before you send them. Also, be aware of your audience. You shouldn’t write in the same tone to your boss as you would be speaking to a friend at work, or a child at home. If you’re wondering if your email is professional enough, be sure that your purpose is clear, that you think about how your words could be interpreted, use the active voice, and be sure to proofread.

4. When you’re overconfident

Perhaps you recently interviewed for a new job, and you are so sure that you will get an offer that you want to email your boss right now and give your notice. Don’t do it! Wait until you have a definite job offer first. Also, even after you get a job offer, consider talking to your boss in person. If you must use email, make sure that you avoid telling your boss off or acting overly cocky. According to Monster, it’s a good idea to say that you are leaving for a position that will help move you toward your long-term goals; be sure to share the news affably. Even if you never work at your company again, making enemies is never the right choice. (You never know who else your boss knows!)

Email correspondence is a quick and convenient way to respond to someone, to ask a question, or to interact back and forth. Just be sure that when you write an email, that you don’t send it when you are acting on an emotion.

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