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Sticky Situation: 12 Steps to Recover From 'Send' Syndrome

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Sticky Situation:
E-blunder, e-gaffe, horr-e-fying e-remorse, every modern day professional has at least one e-story to tell, me included! Click that 'Send' button and you could be clicking your career away.

According to The Radicati Group Inc. Email Statistics Report, 2011-2015 'In 2011, 'the typical corporate email user sends and receives about 105 email messages per day.' That makes 525 a week, 2100 a month, 25 200 a year and 126 000 emails over the course of five years. Wow! It's no wonder that e-mistakes can happen.

'Sticky send situations' range from sending an email without an attachment to pressing 'Reply all' on a colleague's email to the entire team, instead of 'Forward' to your loved one, about your team member's delusional deadlines and tacky client tactics. There is also the inputting of a long list of emails in Cc instead of Bcc, that usually is a forgivable favorite of email rookies. Whereas sending an email to the wrong 'John', as in 'John your boss', instead of 'John your BFF' (Best Friend Forever), with derogatory comments about 'John your boss', could possibly be your last company email. And pressing 'Reply All' instead of 'Reply' with the confidential monthly bonus of a superior will make your phone ring in less than a minute...Yikes! All of a sudden 'Send' is now the dreaded four-letter word.

Solution(s):
Accidental emails can cause embarrassment, compliance issues, end a career or simply make the recipient smile.

Here are 12 steps to, hopefully, recover from 'Send syndrome' and that sinking stomach feeling:

  1. Take responsibility. You can't 'unsend' an email.
  2. Step away from your computer.
  3. Calm down. Have a glass of water. Wash your hands. Regroup.
  4. Call and request an in-person conversation with the recipient of your email gaffe.
  5. Inform the recipient that you made a terrible mistake and that they will not like it.
  6. Depending on the situation, it may be wise to also inform your boss.
  7. Apologize and tell the steps, if any, that you will take to remedy the situation.
  8. Don't make excuses.
  9. Accept the consequences graciously, including a possible dismissal.
  10. Going forward, always check the 'To' field.
  11. Going forward, always check the 'To' field (this is not a typo, do it twice).
  12. Remember the golden rule of email: never send an email that you would not want seen or heard as the lead story of your favorite news source.

Email is here to stay and occupies a big chunk of your day. Go easy on yourself, go easy on others and above all, email on to others as you would like emailed on to you. May email peace be with you.

Have a Sticky Situation yourself, write to julie@etiquettejulie.com and Julie will reply promptly. You can also ask your questions on her Facebook page. Click here to receive her Newsletter and the Preface to her forthcoming book Etiquette: Confidence and Credibility - You at your best.