We’ve all been on the receiving end of emails mistakenly sent to us. Maybe the sender selected the wrong receiver in the “To” dropdown list or accidentally hit “Reply all” when responding to a mass email. Whatever the reason, some of these errors provide amusement while others result in steep consequences.
Once, in a past job, my boss emailed a co-worker instructing him to scoop up the dog waste in her mother’s backyard. Puzzlement turned to amusement as my co-worker realized that he shared the same first name as our boss’s husband. She hadn’t planned on sharing her “honey do” list with the office, but we all had a good laugh.
Another former co-worker lost a sale when he inadvertently hit “reply all” to an email from our sales rep. The initial email asked our group about an insurance policy we were selling. The “reply all” message stated that we could easily convince the customer to buy the policy even though the customer didn’t need it. Unfortunately the customer’s email address was included in the initial mass mailing.
When critical messaging mistakes happen, the best action is a quick reaction. Alert senders right away when you receive sensitive emails not intended for you, so the sender can implement serious damage control.
Make your response short and to the point:
- State the error. “I don’t think you meant to send this email to me.”
- Offer assurances. Ease embarrassment with sentences such as “I promise to keep the information confidential” or “No offense taken.”
- Imply further steps. “I just wanted to let you know right away that I received the message by mistake in case you need to take further action.”
When have you helped someone ease the embarrassment or prevent catastrophe from a misdirected message?
[Image Source: Zak Greant]