E-mail Lessons Your Momma Should Have Taught You

Kegler Brown Construction Newsletter

In today’s business world, electronic communication, such as e-mails, have replaced the telephone call or letter writing as the primary method of messaging. Disputes – legal, political or otherwise – are now decided on the basis of e-mails discovered later once conflict begins. Yet despite the importance of e-mail writing, too few appreciate its significance until it is too late.

Savvy business people can protect themselves by remembering these simple lessons “your Momma should have taught you”.

  1. Think before pressing “Send”: Too often – while in the press of business – folks rush and reply without calmly thinking through a response or its ramifications. Other times senders can reply unprofessionally while upset or angry. Emotional or “reflex” e-mails seldom reflect well on senders later. It is far better to think through a calm deliberative response, particularly after emotions cool, before pressing “send”.
  2. Avoid Cynicism and Sarcasm: Unlike verbal communication, e-mails do not necessarily reflect a tone of voice or perspective. Humor or sarcasm, that might be well received by colleagues around the water cooler, seldom reads well in an e-mail printed months or years later, and placed under your nose in a deposition or trial.
  3. Don’t Write Anything You Do Not Want Your Momma to Read: E-mails never go away. You can never be assured they will only be read by your intended recipient(s). Therefore, do not put anything in an e-mail that you would not be proud to have your Momma (or a Judge or Jury) read later.

If you remember these simple lessons – particularly the last one – you will be in a better position to avoid legal loss and embarrassment later.