What happens in your inbox doesn’t always stay there.
In fact, one stupid email from your work account can have serious real-world consequences.
“Unfortunately, survey after survey reveals that email has also become the bane of many a workplace, often cited as one of the top sources of workplace stress, both because of the sheer volume of email and because how people misuse email. So as a general rule of thumb, before you hit the send button always ask yourself if this is a message that you need to send, period, and if this is a message that would be better delivered in person or over the phone.”
Don’t let your email habits land you in hot water. Make sure to avoid sending these materials over your work account, point blank:
'Yes, that cat video you shot last weekend is hilarious, but most of your colleagues will not appreciate an email than takes ten minutes to download and open,' Kerr said.
You're not a tween living in the early 2000s. You shouldn't be sending chain emails in general -- especially not over your work email.
'You know the ones -- those goofy chain letter requests you receive from cousin Ralph on your home computer telling you to forward this email on to 14 more people so good luck will fall your way,' Kerr said. 'They are annoying and unprofessional in a work context.'
'Inappropriate humour -- especially sexist or racist humour, which will easily come back to bite you, in some cases resulting in employees facing severe reprimands or even dismissal,' Kerr said.
In fact, it's probably better to be careful about the jokes in general. Your inbox isn't the place to workshop your new material, so skip on bombarding your colleagues with silly emails.
'Yes, humour in the workplace is a fabulously invaluable thing that any workplace can benefit greatly from, but when your colleagues already feel buried under a pile of never-ending emails, adding to the deluge is rarely appreciated,' Kerr said.
'This sounds like a no-brainer, yet it happens far too often,' Kerr said. 'Even if you trust the person you are sending the email to, err on the side of caution. You never know who they may forward the email on to, or it may end up printed and left exposed for all eyes to see. Remember that there is no such thing as 100% privacy when it comes to work emails -- your employer may find out you've been sharing confidential information and this could easily leave you open for dismissal.'
Some workplaces love gifs. However, it's probably best to ensure that you work in a gif-friendly environment before you start slapping them on every other email you send out. If your office is more formal about its communications, they could make you look silly.
'Not only might they clog up the network, they will undoubtedly ensure you qualify for placement in the email 'Hall of Shame,'' Kerr said.
Sharing petty gossip is a pretty common human instinct, but it's not one you should be acting upon in the office.
'Sharing it over email is an even worse idea because you never know where the email will end up, and when it's traced back to you, it will make you look petty and unprofessional,' Kerr said.
At some point, you may find yourself searching for a new job while holding down your old one.
That being said, resist the temptation to make this huge mistake as you juggle both roles.
'Never send a résumé to another employer from your work email,' David Lewis, CEO and founder of human resources consulting firm OperationsInc, told Business Insider.
It's unprofessional and could jeopardize your current gig.
Keep your inbox PG. Seriously. There's no reason to send inappropriate files over your work email.
'This sounds obvious, yet employees frequently forward inappropriate images to colleagues, resulting, in some cases, job dismissals,' Kerr said.
This past fall, Barron's accidentally sent out a message to the entire Wall Street Journal newsroom announcing impending layoffs, as Politico reported.
Take it from that fiasco: bad news is best announced in person, not over email.
'If you are delivering bad news -- for example, announcing job layoffs or the cancellation of a project, always deliver the news whenever possible face to face, or at least over the phone, where you can take the time to have a real conversation, respond to questions in real time, and better handle any of the emotional fallout more effectively,' Kerr said. 'There are, believe it or not, stories of people being fired via email which is unimaginably cruel and inappropriate in any work context.'
'Face-to-face, personal communication that allows for a real conversation to happen is always going to be the most effective form of communication there is, so anything that requires a real conversation should be done face to face,' Kerr said.
'Negative feedback or criticism of any kind should never be sent over email,' Kerr said. 'It's not fair to the person receiving it and it will come across as far more negative and severe, no matter how carefully worded, in written from than when delivered face to face.'
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