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August 28, 2012

Calling all bad emails!

In my last Starting Thought I asked for folks to send me emails – not the good ones, but the bad and the ugly. Each are great learning opportunities and they’ll make great features in upcoming blog posts and my new email guidebook.

Since last week I’ve received some great examples, and I’m still on the hunt for the worst of the worst.

So, this week I’m looking for stories and examples of the most outrageously bad use of email you’ve received (or sent) in the workplace (i.e. a phone call or face-to-face interaction would have probably been the better mode of communication).

For example, have you ever:

  • Complained about a colleague over email, but accidentally sent it to the entire department?
  • Been included on a “reply-all” chain that included 1,500 employee’s individual office supply orders?
  • Accidentally been CC’d on an inter-office break-up?

Here’s a story (and lesson) one brave soul shared with me this week...

  • So that others might learn from my painful experience, I provide the following true story: 

    I once composed a message =after= filling out the "To" field with every member of a project team's email address. 

    This would have been fine if I hadn't decided to add a sentence to the message saying "I trust so-and-so as far as I can throw him." In my mind, the message was only going to one person, so I hit the "Send" button and then, of course, immediately realized what I had done. 


    Lessons learned: 

    * Write your message first, then figure out who should receive it. 
    * Personal opinion is usually better left unexpressed in the work environment.

So please, do tell – what are the most ridiculous ways you’ve seen email used and how can we learn from it?

Send your stories and examples to We’ll be sharing some of the most hilarious lessons learned in an upcoming post. *All emails and stories will remain confidential.

-    David Grossman 



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