Survey reveals communications goofs—and preferences

Calling in sick while looking for work? Just don’t email your boss. While you’re at it, avoid forwarding snotty email chains to the person you’ve been gossiping about.

Comms goofs

Have you ever sent your CV to your own manager while hunting for another job?

Or accidentally confessed to your boss—rather than the intended friend—that you weren’t really ill but were actually interviewing for another position?

If not, thank your lucky stars. For those who make such mistakes—and worse—it’s nice to know we’re not alone.

New research by the British web conferencing company 247meeting has revealed the top communication frustrations as well as the biggest blunders in the workplace. Rest assured, people across the pond are just as error-prone as we are in the good old U.S. of A.

As someone who has sent his own share of cringe-inducing emails, I was struck by this confession: “Accidentally sending a message to the wrong person at head office when complaining about someone, not realizing I had sent it to the person I was complaining about.”

The survey also queried respondents about their work frustrations and preferences. Over a third of them say lunchtime meetings have them tearing their hair out. (Is it the sight of all your colleagues talking with food in their mouths?)

Here are the top annoyances:

  • Colleagues arranging or unnecessary meetings or meetings about meetings (51 percent)
  • Meetings or calls arranged over lunchtime (38 percent)
  • Lack of communication from management (37 percent)
  • Meetings without agendas (35 percent)

Communication preferences? Most respondents preferred face-to-face meetings in the workplace, followed by a phone call.

Here are the preferences:

  1. Face to face
  2. Phone call
  3. Email
  4. Text
  5. Video call
  6. Photo messaging
  7. Direct message via social media
  8. Workplace messaging
  9. Voice mail

Thirty-six percent of senior managers are annoyed when they receive emails from employees in the same office, “proving that face-to-face interaction is still the preferred communication at work when it comes to senior staff,” 247meeting reported.

“Junior staff would still much prefer to send an email than pick up the phone to call colleagues,” the company reported. “People aged 55-64 would prefer to use Snapchat to communicate with work friends more than people aged 18-24.”

As for the goofs people make, they are multitudinous, and the folks at 247meeting aren’t the only ones worrying about the flood of flubs. A past story in the Independent lists “You accidentally hit ‘reply all,’” as its No. 1 mistake, followed by “You wrote the wrong name” and “You’ve accidentally been misinterpreted.”

Ugh! “Misusing ‘your’ and ‘you’re’” makes the list in a blog post about the worst sales email mistakes from HubSpot, along with “Using inline lists instead of bullet points.” The writer asks:

Would you rather be asked if a meeting on “Monday at 3:00 p.m., Tuesday at 12:00 p.m., Tuesday at 1:45 p.m., Wednesday at 9:00 a.m., Wednesday at 4 p.m., or Thursday at 12:20 p.m.” works better for you, or receive this email:

Let me know if any of the below times work for you:

Monday at 3:00 p.m.

Tuesday at 12:00 p.m.

Tuesday at 1:45 p.m. [etc.]

Respondents have admitted to accidentally sending their CV to their own boss when applying for a new job.

That sort of mistake is minor compared with the following, from 247meeting: “Accidentally sending a message to the wrong person at head office when complaining about someone, not realizing I had sent it to the person I was complaining about.”

Another mentioned: “I sent an instant message on Lync to my colleague that was joking about some biscuits. He was presenting in a meeting and my message came up on the big screen and everyone saw.”

How about these:

  • “I texted my new boss saying ‘changed your Dublin flight’ but it autocorrected to ‘changed your f***ing flight.’”
  • “I said, ‘love you too’ in an interview. I meant to say ‘lovely to meet you’…”
  • “Emailed a client, ‘Please don’t get in touch if you have any questions.’”

Oh, you think that’s bad? How about the goofs compiled by the U.K. recruiting agency Coburg Banks. (Our British cousins seem to fret about this topic quite a bit.) Among others, they list these:

  • One lovelorn lonelyheart lamented, “I sent a really embarrassing, romantic poem to this girl at work via email. Totally on purpose, but she really didn’t take it well. In fact, I got reported to HR.”
  • “I wrote an extremely explicit rant about female staff ‘making a mess’ in the toilets and, instead of sending it to them, sent it to a client.”
  • “I sent my boss a racy email, but accidentally cc’d the entire office into it. His wife works here.”

As part of its research, 247meeting have collaborated with comedian Robin Morgan, filming his reactions to communication blunders.

Add to all these email gaffes a series of bad email practices from Inc. magazine.

Late night emails. Responding to emails in haste and in a sleep-deprived state is never a good idea. It’s always good to sleep on an email that you are not sure of. The tone and intent behind your response might make a lot less sense in the cold light of day. Plus, your colleagues will appreciate not getting a notification email at 4 a.m.

Emotional emailing. … I have more than once fired off an email just to “get something off my chest” and immediately regretted it. Never send an email when you’re emotional. If you feel the intense urge to write it, do so but make sure you save it in Drafts. After 24 hours, read it again, and you’ll find most of the time, you won’t ever need to hit “Send.”

Anytime you forward a message, beware. One person, Coburg Banks reports, made this doozy of an email blunder:

“I forwarded an email chain across to my boss—highlighting some info about a project we were completing,” one worker lamented. “Kind of forgot that the earlier emails in the chain consisted of me and a co-worker complaining about how much of an idiot he is.”

Oops. It was nice working with you.

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