Email is permanent. Oh sure, it may not seem that way, because most of us delete unwanted emails every day. But what if you didn’t delete them? They would be around for as long as someone wanted to keep them—perhaps years into the future.
Why is this important? Because it stresses the importance of not writing emails that are stupid, irresponsible, mean, libelous, or anything else that you might really regret later on. It’s kind of like the old adage about taking a few hours, or maybe a day, to simmer down before sending off a letter you wrote in anger. In all likelihood, when we look at our writing after the emotions have calmed, we think, “Man, I’m glad I didn’t send that!”
The trouble is that with email we may not be quite so careful. Email is fast. And the email that takes 30 seconds to write and send may take years to undo.
Here are some definite don’ts:
- Don’t write an email when you’re angry. Instead, you can write a Word document and save it for tomorrow, when hopefully you can look at it with a clear head.
- Don’t gossip in emails (or anywhere else, just to be on the safe side). Just imagine if the person being gossiped about gets hold of your email.
- Don’t write something stupid. Such as? Well, anything that, if you looked at it several months from now would really make you embarrassed.
- Don’t send inappropriate material. Not only is it highly inconsiderate—it can also get you into big trouble if the wrong person sees it.
So, remember to be very careful when sending email. Frankly, most people, even business professionals, are not. Interestingly, many of these people would never be so careless with pen and ink, but for some reason, a computer makes it somehow seem different.