While you may not have Julian Assange hot on your trail, you can still get in trouble with email. From a simple “joke” shared with a colleague to a real breach of privacy, making a mistake by email can haunt you for years to come. You don’t have to go as far as Bill Clinton and Donald Trump who don’t use email at all, just take a few simple precautions to avoid making an embarrassing or potentially career-ending gaffe.
Double check recipients before pressing send. You probably use the send field to auto populate an email address you want to add to your body copy. Just make sure you don’t leave that person in the send field. Auto populate can also wreak havoc by popping in a recipient’s address that’s awfully close to the person you’re trying to reach… yet not them.
Draft it then delete it. Want to vent to a colleague? Send an off-color joke to a friend? Go ahead and type it out, but read it over before pressing send. Then imagine what might happen if the wrong person read that email. If that’s a terrifying thought, delete the email ASAP.
Be wary of ‘Reply All.’ Sometimes, we think we’re sending a private remark to the sender of the email, neglecting to realize there’s 10 people cc’d and we’ve just hit ‘Reply All.’ Take the time to make sure you indeed want to respond to everyone on the email. This gets tricky when it’s a long chain that has been circulating for a while. Best advice? Start a fresh email chain if you only want to address just one person(s) on the chain.
Use your private email for private stuff. While you might not work for the State Department, it’s still never a good practice to use your work email for private correspondence and your private email to send work-related information. If there’s any lesson we’ve learned this year, it’s that separation of church and state is essential.