You've heard it before – there are certain things you should never do when e-mailing another person. But I always find a timely reminder can be quite helpful. Here's a quick reminder of what to do (and not do) when e-mailing for any purpose.
1) Count to ten before you hit send. The golden rule of e-mailing. Sure, it felt good to call your boss a bleepity bleeping bleep, but that fuzzy feeling will only last until you realize that he will receive the message and it will be all downhill from there. That was an obvious one. Who REALLY wants to call the boss that to his face? Put your hands down – I'm speaking rhetorically. What about those e-mails that seem innocent enough, and then turn into a big deal when someone reads your words in a way you might not have intended? Read for content. Read for intent. Read with a different emphasis on different words each time. Remember that if you send your e-mail to ten people, there will be ten different interpretations of what you're trying to say.
2) Proofread! Spelling and grammar checkers can only take you so far. Have you seen that clever poem where all of the words are replaced with homophones, so it "reads" okay, but makes no sense? I get e-mails like that. Probably from you. So take the time to read through what you're sending. Especially if you're sending to a large audience of people, to whom you want to give the impression that you have actually graduated beyond third grade ability.
3) Do I really have to say it? Okay, fine, because there are still one or two of you who haven't figured out what that Caps Lock key is or where it lives. DON'T TYPE IN ALL CAPS! See how annoying that was? Like I was yelling at you? Yeah. Enough said.
4) Stop sending me racy e-mails at my work e-mail address. I have a private account that I can check at home, where all sorts of madness and mayhem are tolerated, accepted, even enjoyed! Girls Gone Wild 4 outtakes, on my work computer? Are you trying to get me fired?
5) Disregard number 4 if you are not my mom or my brother. (But, if you do anything described in number 4, take the message to heart. You could be getting someone in trouble).
6) Don't Reply to All unless you really want to reply to all. Seems simple, right? But we've all done it. And sometimes, if you haven't followed the other guidelines herein, it can cause some mighty big trouble.
7) Check out those forwards for authenticity before you send them. There's a website called Snopes that makes it so easy. If you really believe everything you get in an e-mail is true, then Bill Gates wants to give you a penny for every person you can sell the Brooklyn Bridge to. Let me know how you do – I'm supposed to get a cut of those profits.
8) Better yet – don't send me forwards unless they literally have you peeing your pants laughing or opening a new box of tissues crying. Chances are? I've seen them before. The internet seems like a vast wilderness, but believe it or not, lots of jokes, chain letters and otherwise are just recycled pulp.
9) E-mail is barely human contact. Sure, it's better than nothing. But just barely. So, don't do any of the following via e-mail: 1) report the death of a loved one to any family member, 2) break up with your significant other (no matter how little time is invested in the relationship!), 3) propose marriage, or 4) propose divorce. And friends don't let friends e-mail drunk.
10) Finally – it's okay if you don't check your e-mail for a day. Or two. Or a week. I know – pot, kettle, black and all that. But spring is here, summer's coming, and there's so much more to life than your e-mail. At least that's what they keep telling me.