I got a great lesson in quickly sending emails via cell phone today. Autocorrect decided that instead of spelling the name of the product I was talking about, I was really trying to say “anus.” Multiple times. All through the email. And yes, I sent it without proofreading to an unsuspecting list of coworkers. But this is just one of the many faux pas you can easily make if you’re writing business emails on your cell phone as if you’re texting a friend. My big list of cell phone no-nos is:
1. Not Proofreading Your Messages
Autocorrect is a real killer. In addition to the above mistake, I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off one day and trying to provide direction to a supplier about the naming convention for a new feature I needed. Ignoring autocorrect, I sent him an email erroneously asking him to name it “OPP.” Luckily, he humorously replied “I’m down with OPP. Yeah, you know me!” and I caught my mistake before it cost me an extra change request to the system! But taking 5 seconds to check my email before sending it could have done that with much less dependence on luck. Of course, we’re all human, so autocorrect isn’t the only way you can royally botch a message. Always take the time to carefully reread what you’re writing before sending to make sure your message is clear.
2. Writing Harsh Emails
I’ve had people warn me in advance before that they “may seem short or harsh in their emails, but it’s because I’m using my cell phone.” Translation? “I don’t care enough about your feelings to take the time to write an email that won’t sound like I’m berating you.” This is one thing that can seriously kill relationships, especially if you respond this way to your direct reports. If you come off as self-absorbed or too busy for someone in your emails, that will be their perception of you. So if you can’t take an extra minute to consider the tone of your email, be prepared for the consequences of the way people see your actions. Believe me, the forewarning doesn’t soften the blow.
3. Trying to Respond So Quickly That You Ignore Half the Email
I know, I know, if you have a million questions to ask in an email – why didn’t you just call? But if I have multiple points or questions in my email, answering one of them probably isn’t going to get me off your back. If you don’t know the answer to the other questions right now, that’s okay! I don’t need an answer to my 20 Questions game in world record time! You can take some time to consider my questions or proposal and you can answer later! Similarly, but probably more damaging to relationships: if I send you an email asking “How’s the new job?” followed by a work-related question, I’m probably not just trying to make polite small-talk. I actually care about how your new job is going. If you care about building relationships, don’t accidentally blow off people’s attempts to connect with you on a level slightly deeper than “What are your thoughts on that report that just came out?” because you want to get an answer to this email out before the elevator hits the third floor.
This one has some unintended consequences. I had a friend tell me once that she sent her boss an email, requesting his or her approval or opinion on a proposal. The boss responded back with simply “Y,” so naturally my friend spent the next hour or two crafting some additional background information on her proposal, assuming that the boss wanted more information, justification, or reasoning. So after these couple of wasted hours preparing and sending additional information (this friend holds a relatively high position in her organization, so her time is not trivial), she learns that her boss was using “Y” to mean “Yes,” and not “Why?” as she had originally thought. Two extra keystrokes from her boss could have saved several hours and certainly a lot of frustration. Whether you’re on a computer or a cell phone, always make sure you’re clear. If a phone call would say it better, do that instead – it’s a cell phone, after all.
5. Responding Impulsively
Tying back somewhat to number two, responding impulsively without first thinking about what you are trying to say can have unintended consequences. When you’re receiving email 24 hours a day thanks to a mobile device, it’s very easy to want to respond quickly to get some responses out of the way. The consequences of responding impulsively can range from unintentionally showing your frustration to decision making you later have to rescind because spending some extra time thinking about it has made you realize it wasn’t the best course of action. Take some extra time to think about your response before
All of these points tie back to a single central point: clarity. If, at your desk or on your cell phone, your email can’t provide the clarity you need for it to provide in a way that is succinct, an email is not the best way to say it. Never use your email as a crutch or a mask, or try to force fit your thoughts into a short email. In many cases, it will probably take less time to pick up a phone or even walk over to someone’s office and will probably end up with better results if the message is important.
That said, if you want to laugh until you cry, check out these other work-related autocorrect blunders: DamnYouAutoCorrect.com