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Emails can get you into trouble

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Specializes in RN, BSN, CHDN. Has 26 years experience.

This article is concerned with emailing within the working environment. It touches on some of the problems that can be caused by emailing. How we don't give emailing the respect as an official document it deserves. Email can be used in a court of law to back up or deny certain information. It also gives a few do's and don'ts of email in an effort to help others avoid pitfalls which can occur.

Emails can get you into trouble

Did you know that there is such a thing as email etiquette - for Work?

I don't know about you, but I have tripped into many pitfalls with my emails! Emails can have a tone, attitude, rudeness, and they can be offensive!

Many of us use email as a quick way of communicating something simple to another person without considering that written word often has more of an impact than anything else in society!

How many times have you read an email, which annoyed you initially, making you wanted to respond immediately yet once you re read it, you realized that maybe you had not really read it properly?

When we used to write letters to people years ago, you know the kind we used to pop in the mail with a stamp.

There was a formal way we were taught in school how to write letters.

How to format a letter, it was a skill! It was a part of an English lesson and we were tested on it, in my school

How many of us have had formal education on how to write emails? I haven't

I almost consider emails as a quick note, not paying it much attention, not really giving it much thought!

STOP emails are a written documentation and will follow you where ever you go!

They can be used against you as well as for you!

Be careful of what you write! It could come back and bite you on the left cheek! I am only discussing work emails here but the rules can apply to all emailing, the ones we write in the heat of the day.

I have complied a few simple rules of email which may help you in the future, and yes I am only touching on the topic but I have witnessed careers falling apart because Email has been used incorrectly.

1/ Do not send your emails as soon as you write them wait a few minutes return and look at it. Imagine you were receiving the email and consider if you would appreciate the tone and the content!

(It never fails to amaze how many ambiguities you manage to work into short and simple emails)

2/ If in doubt ask somebody you can trust to review before sending

3/ Do not email anything which could have serious future consequences for you. Emails can be used as evidence in a court of law

4/ Do not press reply all as a default, it may not be suitable! Review who the reply all will go to!

5/ Try to keep it short and sweet

6/ Clean up forwarding emails, you know the emails which contain great advice you want to share.

If you are at the end of such a sharing chain, you'll quickly see why cleaning up emails before forwarding them is essential: messages that have been forwarded multiple times often contain '>' and other quotation characters in all the wrong places, lines are broken in even worse places, and email addresses of people you don't want to know are everywhere.

7/ It is polite to let somebody know that you received their email and that it didn't get lost in cyber space or the spam bin

8/ Try to talk about one subject per email to avoid confusion

9/ Be careful using irony in emails especially if you don't know the person, it can cause multiple problems

10/ REMEMBER TO WRITE IN CAPITALS MEANS YOU ARE SHOUTING AT THE PERSON!

'My mother used to tell me don't write anything down which you really do not want to come back and haunt you'

RN with 26 years of experience many of those years spent in dialysis. I have worked in acute care, home, ICHD as a CN, FA, and currently a director.

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21 Comment(s)

edmia, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency, ICU. Has 10 years experience.

I completely agree that emails need to be composed in a careful way knowing that the intention of the writer may not be received correctly by the reader.

But, to me proper use of English grammar and spelling are more important and give whatever you are writing a more professional feel. I can't take anything seriously that is riddled with grammar misuses and spelling mistakes. Drives me bananas ;-)

Common spelling issues that I can't understand how anyone who has attended college can produce:

Beleive

Appropiate

There/their misuse

It's/its misuse

Lose/loose misuse

And so many more I could write an article on it. When I get an email from someone in management with spelling and grammatical mistakes, I cringe.

Sent from my iPhone using allnurses.com

tyvin, BSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice / Psych / RNAC.

If you don't want the world to know then don't write or say it in an email, text, voice message, social media, ect... Anything we say or write on computers, cells, tablets, etc... is stored for a very, very long time (even if you think you've deleted it, it's still there). Grammar and spelling is a must though there is the edit button on everything, there shouldn't be any errors. If I have a long email and I'm worried about the tone I use emoticons to get my point across. If you're worried about grammar, usually saying it out loud will catch mistakes.

a/an...my pet peeve in writing.

This also includes photos...remember Wiener? :yes:

Thank you for the advise. I wish you could have given some examples of how someone lost their job due to sending an unappropriate email. Just curious.

Meriwhen, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psych ICU, addictions.

Great article.

One thing to add: just because a message is deleted doesn't mean that it's gone from your facility forever. A copy of that deleted message is often maintained in the company's servers...and it can come back to haunt you.

BrandonLPN, LPN

Has 5 years experience.

I think a formal protocol and ettiquite for composing emails should start being taught as early as grade school. It's an undeniable part of culture now.

BeenThereDoneThat74, MSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatrics. Has 25 years experience.

Aren't we supposed to be writing e-mails the way we write letters? Call me old fashion and corny, but I'm thinking the basic etiquette should remain in an e-mail. Apparently the younger generation doesn't think this :0

Try to talk about one subject per email to avoid confusion

I really wish this weren't the case, but it really is true. I can't tell you how many e-mails I have written to colleagues (educated colleagues, at that), who only answer the first part of the e-mail. I try to include more than one subject in the e-mail (ei., "exam 2 and clinical make-ups), but still, only the first part is worthy of a reply. It's like people today don't have the attention span to read an entire e-mail.

Pepper The Cat, BSN, RN

Specializes in Gerontology. Has 34 years experience.

Lets add that once an email is sent, you lose control over it. It can be forwarded on and on and on. Who knows where it ends up?

Aren't we supposed to be writing e-mails the way we write letters? Call me old fashion and corny, but I'm thinking the basic etiquette should remain in an e-mail. Apparently the younger generation doesn't think this :0

I really wish this weren't the case, but it really is true. I can't tell you how many e-mails I have written to colleagues (educated colleagues, at that), who only answer the first part of the e-mail. I try to include more than one subject in the e-mail (ei., "exam 2 and clinical make-ups), but still, only the first part is worthy of a reply. It's like people today don't have the attention span to read an entire e-mail.

That's what I do! I still start my emails with Dear. _____, and end them with "Sincerely."

Unless of course it IS an informal email

MunoRN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 10 years experience.

From the title of the thread I assumed this was about Patraeus.

flyingchange

Specializes in MPH Student Fall/14, Emergency, Research. Has 2+ years experience.

My pet peeves are the misuse (or non-use) of paragraph breaks and semicolons.

Nobody likes a wall-o-text, and periods are usually a better choice than joined sentences that could then be their own paragraph...

Oh, I also tend to give up on walls-o-text that use ellipses to string thoughts along without ever giving the eye a chance to break and digest the information.

Ah, grammar.

Thank you for your advise, I completely agree that what you have written in the heat of the moment can be used against you. This is really helpful.

brandy1017, ASN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care.

Timely article given the news about the Petraeus affair and how emails exposed the affair and more people are now caught in this web as it unravels! An email is permanent, even when you delete it, it still remains on the computer. It can even be used in a legal proceeding!

lilarox

Specializes in telemetry.

The comments referencing the younger generation of people using incorrect grammar instinctively cause me to feel defensive. However, I am 35, so perhaps I am not as young as my inner self likes to believe. Regardless, the usage of incorrect grammar, spelling errors, text speak, and many other mistakes drive me crazy. I tend to go overboard since I even edit my informal texts to avoid sounding uneducated. I must admit that I am terrible when it comes to spelling but there are no excuses for sending any communication with incorrectly spelled words since most programs have spell check features. What do people think the red lines are under the words are for? It takes five seconds to fix spelling errors, and these days most programs have grammar editing features too. So I guess I'm old or an exception to the rule.

lilarox

Specializes in telemetry.

Thank you for your advise, I completely agree that what you have written in the heat of the moment can be used against you. This is really helpful.

Just Saying.........

madwife2002, BSN, RN

Specializes in RN, BSN, CHDN. Has 26 years experience.

Actually I had no clue who Patraeus is, I had to look him up-LOL

My article came about because co-workers and myself have been getting in hot water with our emails

From the title of the thread I assumed this was about Patraeus.

Ah.

Emails.

I have seen some rather foolish foolish things put into emails.

One of the dumbest were the two employees, of a small family business, that were having a little whoopie on the side. The woman was the wife of the owner and the man was the brother of the owner. Both were much too far into their fantasy world to stop and think about the very fact that the owner had access to all email.

Yes, they were stupid enough to use the in-house email.

The owner called my hubby (a detective) and (with much restraint on the husband's part) just let the those two ding-dongs digs themselves in deeper and deeper. So, thanks to foolish emails, the wife ended up with a GPS tracker on her car and I spent my day off watching them hook up for a tryst in a park. Oh, boy! We got some nice pictures, too.

We were astounded by how stupid they were. They even expressed concerns as to whether of not "Joe" was catching on... but they never wavered from their mode of in-house email communication. Why? Oh, because Joe was "stupid", see. :sarcastic:

But my favorite stupid email story is one of when I suspected my ex-husband of reading my email.

Any suspicion that he was into my account was mere suspicion no more... when he accidentally emailed me from my own account!

The stupid jerk must've been in the midst of snooping through my email, when he realized he needed to communicate with me. He must have forgotten he was in my account, addressed an email to me and voila! Instant busted and disgusted...:roflmao:

I never made such a thoroughly enjoyable phone call as that day, when I got to tell him what he had done.

Don't let your emails be efails, folks.

Cheers !