Email is a quick and easy way to send messages to your supervisors and colleagues. However, sending an inappropriate email could cost you your job. It’s best to stay on the safe side and only use email to communicate work-related messages. Don’t use it as if it were your personal email account, because it’s not. Know that your work email account is most likely being monitored by your employer, so don’t be careless about the messages you send.
Alison Green, human resources expert and founder of career site Ask a Manager, reminds employees that they don’t own their work accounts. Don’t get comfortable and start sending whatever you want to co-workers, friends, and family; that’s what your personal account is for. “You don’t own your work email account. Your employer does. And they absolutely can monitor it or go into it to find something when you’re on vacation or check it when they suspect someone leaked something to the media, or all kinds of other situations that could lead to them reading these emails between you and your friend. And while reasonable employers don’t do that in any but the most dire situations, (a) sometimes dire situations occur, and (b) not every employer is reasonable. Far from it,” said Green on her website.
Your emails can be forwarded or displayed to anyone, so keep that in mind each time you hit the “send” button. Don’t use email to send jokes, spread gossip, or vent about your job. Here are eight things you should never say in a work email.
1. I hate my job
Do not use your work email account to vent about your job. If you hate where you work, keep that thought to yourself during work hours. If your supervisor gets wind of that email, you won’t have a job to hate anymore, now will you? Did you have a really terrible day? Then vent to your dog, call your mother, or cry to your therapist about it. Just never type or breathe those three words at work.
2. I want a raise
If you’re serious about wanting a raise, set up a proper meeting and ask in person. Payscale contributor Gina Belli said raise requests sent through email are unprofessional:
Certain conversations are meant to be had in person … This is not the kind of request you want to make by email, mainly because you want to make it clear that this is an issue that you take seriously. Also, you want to be available to answer questions about your request. Sending an email could send the wrong message. Take the time to meet in person under these circumstances.
3. I’m angry with you
If you are hurt or angry, don’t fire off a nasty email. You will most likely regret it later once you’ve calmed down. Give yourself time to simmer down, then arrange to speak either on the phone or in person.
John Brandon, a columnist at Inc., said he learned the hard way how much of an impact an angry email can have at work. He said the experience taught him to think before sending a message when he’s angry:
I see email differently now. It’s not a tool for anger or outbursts or for dictatorial commands to the people you work with. It’s also not a tool for deep discussion. Instead, it is a way to communicate more intentionally, to make plans, and to summarize a topic. Literally, ever since that one email experience, I’ve tried to set my emotions aside before ever typing up a message. I’m not perfect, and I’ve sent other (more tame) nastygrams to people. But I learned the hard way that just one email can ruin a project — or even a career — if you’re not careful with your words.
4. I have some confidential information to share
Email is a terrible place to communicate a private message. One of the worst things that could happen is that you end up sending the message to the wrong person. If you don’t want other people to know what you have to say, don’t send confidential information in an email that anyone can access at any time. If you have a private work matter to share, set up a meeting or go out to lunch to discuss matter.
5. I’m taking a sick day tomorrow
If you’re not really sick, don’t send an email like this. Emailing your plans to play hooky the next day isn’t a smart move. This just puts your dishonesty on display for all to see if your message gets into the wrong hands. Abusing sick days is not only wrong but can also get you in hot water with management. If a work enemy sees this email and sends it along to human resources, you’re toast.
6. I made a big mistake
We all make mistakes at work, but you need to be careful about how you convey that information and who you tell. Your best bet is to tell your boss about a work mistake face-to-face. There are just too many chances for misunderstandings to take place over email.
7. He looked really hot at the office party
A message like this could be used against you if you were ever accused of sexual harassment. It’s best for you to just admire your attractive co-workers from afar.
8. Did you hear about Suzie’s divorce?
This isn’t gossip hour. Chatting about non-work matters during work time is unprofessional. You’re also stealing precious time from your company — and using their equipment to do it. If you want to chat about your co-worker’s divorce, don’t do it using office property. Then again, you shouldn’t be gossiping about your co-workers at all.
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