5 things you shouldn’t say in a business email

Next time you want to talk about a raise, berate a co-worker, or ‘reply all,’ refer to these reminders. It might save your job.

In the workplace, as in life, some things are better left unsent—as email or text—and instead require a face-to-face conversation. Based on a few such horror stories I’ve recently heard, here are some communication dos and don’ts to tuck away for future reference.

DO NOT email your boss asking for a raise or a promotion. Experts agree that you must set up an appointment to talk to your boss to show how serious you are about asking for a raise. Treat this as a business meeting. Don’t discuss your raise by email, at the water cooler, or by telephone (unless you and your boss don’t work at the same location).

DO NOT email a subordinate to voice displeasure with performance. Without context, eye contact, voice inflection etc., you may be setting up a misunderstanding, en email war, or unnecessary stress. And if stress is your intention, you could even be accused of workplace intimidation.

DO NOT send an angry email. Or, at least ask yourself these questions first. Can you talk it out? Is your response appropriate? What would happen if your email were forwarded to others or published? Keep this link, and refer to it the next time you’re tempted to air your anger online.

DO NOT “reply all” without careful consideration.

DO NOT forward a “bcc” email that was clearly only intended for certain eyes, but …

DO email a blast of congratulations to a team or team member on a job well done. Email is a great way to share kudos with a crowd. Get visual with links to video or photos demonstrating the success and use language that really describes the recipient’s strengths.

Got any dos and don’ts you’d like to share? Go ahead, feel free to email them!

Marijane Funess is media relations director at Crenshaw Communications. A version of this story appeared on the company’s blog.


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