Survey: The high cost of workplace communication screwups

Drunken reply-alls. Disastrous texting typos. Expletive-laced emails to the wrong recipient. Workers share their most humiliating messaging moments.

Workplace miscommunication

Always—for the love of Pete, always—wait a tick and double-check before hitting “Send.”

That’s the pertinent takeaway from a survey conducted by TollFreeForwarding, which gathered a galling collection of mortifying miscommunication debacles from 1,000 U.S. workers. Fifty-six percent of respondents admitted they had sent work-related information to the “wrong person” before, which can be benign—or possibly career-ending. The survey gathered these cautionary tales:

  • One man mistakenly sent a message to a colleague, instead of his wife, saying her “cleavage pops out like CRAZY.”
  • A staffer—who was upset with his boss, Paul—sent an email asking, “Who pissed in Paul’s Wheaties this morning?” Unfortunately, he sent it to Paul.
  • Someone confessed to sending out a drunken “All Staff” message featuring a wildly inappropriate sloth meme.
  • One respondent accidentally showed pictures of herself in a bikini during a high-pressure presentation.
  • A worker, in an unfortunate text exchange with his boss, typed “HORNY!” instead of “HOORAY!” in response to a meeting cancellation.

We all make mistakes, but it appears males are more prone to committing workplace communication blunders. According to the survey, “Men (70 percent) are more likely than women (49 percent) to mistakenly send out a message, and email is the most common purveyor of miscommunications (34 percent).”

Of course, the examples above are extreme—and hilarious to outsiders—but messaging mistakes are no laughing matter for businesses. Miscommunication can cost companies huge amounts of cash, and blunders can carry career-killing consequences for those who commit them. The survey found:

  • Fifty-five percent would expect to be dismissed for unintentionally sending confidential business information to a colleague.
  • Forty-seven percent would expect to be dismissed for unintentionally sending written sexual content to a colleague.
  • Forty-five percent would expect to be dismissed for unintentionally sending confidential personal information to a colleague.

If you don’t typically proofread your workplace communications—all of them—let this be a sobering reminder to do so. Read the rest of TollFreeForwarding’s report here.

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