I've always tried to make the email messages I write "safe for public consumption", because I never know where an email message might end up. I was reminded of this guideline after reading the eye-opening story Misfired Messages Roil Businesses at Wired.com. The article is a cautionary tale filled with email horror stories like this one:
For me, the article makes obvious just how easy it is to send disastrous messages if you're not very careful. Because email is almost a blend between written notes and phone conversations, I think it's often treated a bit too casually.
In a note intended for a few friends, marketing executive Alex Clark once mocked his company's CEO and his inability to properly attach a document to an e-mail message, only to discover he had sent the missive to the chief executive himself. "Working with the IT department and the CEO's personal secretary," said Clark, "I attempted to intercept the message before it reached his inbox -- to no avail. Later that night, I received the response. The CEO made his outrage abundantly clear in the most scathing e-mail I have ever received."
Combine the relaxed nature of email with its immediacy and multiple recipient capability and you've got a recipe that could potentially cook up a batch of serious trouble.
The moral of the story? Be careful what you write. Consider it "safe for public consumption", because you never know where any email message might land.
If in doubt, don't send it out!
Enjoy your weekend! :-)