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5 Emails You Should Never Send

These five types of emails can sabotage morale, ruin relationships, and kill your office culture. Make sure you're not setting a bad example.

I've been using email for decades, but I'm still surprised at how many people don't know the rules for the business use of email.

Specifically, there are five types of email that have no business in the workplace--ever. Let your employees know that you disapprove, and be sure you're not setting a bad example yourself.

1. The Rant

It's always a bad idea to write an email when you're angry or upset.  You almost always end up using words and phrases that you'll later regret--and it's all too easy to hit "send" in the heat of the moment.

2. The Scandal Sheet

Office gossip is ugly enough on its own; it doesn't need to be accelerated electronically. Here's the rule: Never send an email that contains anything that you wouldn't want everyone to know that you said.

3. Marketing Spam

Any mass emailing where the recipient has not specifically requested to be on the list is a nuisance. Only send marketing emails when there has been a specific "opt in." An "opt out" isn't good enough.

4. Bad News

Whether it's a firing, a resignation or a difficult reassignment, you need to deliver the blow either in person or (if that's not possible) on the telephone. No exceptioins: It's cowardly to use email to avoid dealing with other people's emotions.

5. The Time Waster

Any message with a subject line that reads something like "thought this might interest you" is a waste of time.  Don't stuff your colleagues' mailboxes with content unless you're absolutely certain it's relevant.

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Last updated: Jul 3, 2012


Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.

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