Send the Right Message: How to Avoid an E-mail Catastrophe

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We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt the nausea inducing, gut twisting, computer monitor chucking sensations that result from a mistakenly sent message. Then arrives the infuriatingly merry sounding “whoosh” indicating your e-mail or text has sent successfully. You soon curse the inexistence of an emergency e-mail ABORT button (unless you use Gmail, of course).

But it’s really just too easy to do! In TIME’s own e-mail system, the “Reply” key is only five millimeters from the “Reply All” key (yes, we measured!).  A truly dangerous thing, especially if replying in haste. When the newest work-related complaint is on your mind as you’re emailing details to a co-worker, your boss’ name just might find its way into the ‘To” column.

Now, sometimes you’re merely embarrassed. But sometimes there are more severe consequences. Can anybody say Congressman Weiner?

Techland is here to reinforce several strategies CNN suggests to avoid this all too common technological mishap:

1. While you may feel comfortable with your co-workers, ALWAYS keep office e-mails professional. Employers are within their rights to have access to your company account.

2. Write your email first. Insert the recipient last. Avoid the possibility that the target of your email fury finds his or her way into the “To” field.

3. Beware of sender “autofill.” An e-mail to “Catherine” your sister could very easily be sent to “Catherine” your supervisor if you’re not careful. Outlook doesn’t know any better, so always type out full names just to be on the safe side.

4. Use separate Internet browsers for chats with different people. We all know how close together those Facebook and Gmail chat windows can be. Make sure you’re not sending the wrong message to the wrong person.

And in the event that you find you’ve messed up…

Take care of it IMMEDIAETLY. Like a breakup, the longer you wait, the more damage you do. At the office, make a phone call instead of sending another e-mail. And pray that programmers develop an e-mail system in which the send options are on separate corners of your screen!

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