Professional Development

6 Email Mistakes that Get You Fired

Written by Peter Jones

We spend a distressing amount of time on email. It’s a bigger and bigger part of our jobs and our lives. It can also be an extremely revealing facet of our personalities and an indicator of how capable we are professionally.

We all think we write high-caliber, businesslike emails, but we all get plenty of emails that just aren’t polished enough. Is it possible you might be guilty of substandard email? Here are six things you should make sure you’re not doing.

Being forward-happy

Simply forwarding an email to your coworkers or your boss does not clear you of responsibility. If you really want to disseminate that information, try editing the subject to be more eye-catching, then include a brief, but informative note in the body to introduce the email you are forwarding with the reason you are forwarding it.

Being grammar lazy

Grammar is not a relic of the past. And people will notice when you disregard it. If you want to be respected, you need to make a habit of drafting smart, professional emails. Resist the temptation to express yourself in exclamation points and emoji. Use concise, correct language instead. And remember to be brief.

Relying on cliché

Check the next five emails you write before you send them. Are you using stock clichés and dead language that isn’t yours? Or worse—are you using corporate speak? Talking about “circling the wagons” or “digging deep” or other meaningless phrases? Try to keep your language fresh and clean and surgically to the point.

IMHO lolz

Nobody cares that you can use all the trendy acronyms, whether either irony or earnest. There is no place for them in a professional forum. Srlsy.

Replying all

Unless you have a very good reason to do so—i.e. everyone on that original thread absolutely needs a piece of information that only you possess—just don’t do it. You’ll just clog everybody’s inboxes with an unnecessary reply. If you’re communicating with your team and boss, leave your boss out of the back-and-forth and CC her only when she needs to be in the loop on a particular message.

Cleaning out your inbox

It doesn’t seem like something you might be doing wrong; it’s what organized, productive people do, right? Wrong. Chances are, the time you spend sorting all your emails into file folders is time you could actually spend working and furthering your career.

About the author

Peter Jones