Do you make this common email mistake?

(The emails below are completely fictionalized and do not at all represent a real thing that happened to me or anyone I know about a year ago. I did change names to protect the privacy of the people this didn’t happen to.)

Sent: July 1, 2010

To: Employee, Quicktyper

From: Judgmental, Boss

Subject: Important Creative Project leading to  possible promotion

Hi Quicktyper,

I have the final details on the project we discussed. We loved your ideas but we need your summary and recommendations in 48 hrs. Is that going be a problem?


Sent: July 1, 2010

To: Judgmental, Boss

From:Employee, Quicktyper

Subject: Re: Important Creative Project leading to possible promotion

No a problem.


Sent: July 1, 2010

To: Employee, Quicktyper

From: Judgmental, Boss

Subject: Re: Re: Important Creative Project leading to possible promotion

Ok, we’ll give the project to Slowthinker down the hall.


Did you catch the typo? Neither did Quicktyper. And now Quicktyper is either typing really fast again (will they never learn?) or sprinting down the hall to unscramble the eggs. It may be too late reclaim that project and Quicktyper learns a hard lesson – emailing is tough.

Don’t tell me you’ve never sent an email off quickly without proofreading only to discover later that a small mistake, like a missing letter or misplaced comma, ended up costing you something big.

Some of you may be thinking, “I’ll just use that feature on my email server called “recall email.” Go ahead and try it, but someone once tried that with me, only I received the recall request AFTER I had already read the email they didn’t want me to read. So I knew exactly what they were thinking about my request, and I knew they were too nervous to talk to me directly. It was an excellent learning experience for me, and for once I didn’t make the mistake to learn the lesson.

Your homework today is to find the “Save as Draft” button and actually USE IT.  Too many of my co-workers, and myself included, have sent off emails without re-reading our words and without re-reading the original email and making sure we’re answering the right questions.

Saving emails as drafts gives you a chance to take quick break from your immediate reaction and review your words carefully. In heated email exchanges, you might want to let your reply mellow in the Draft folder for a few hours, maybe a day. If you feel you need to wait longer than a day, perhaps what you really need to do is have a face-to-face conversation.

Replying too quickly in verbal conversations can indicate you’re not actually listening to the other person’s words, and replying too quickly to emails can mean the same thing. You’re not paying attention to their questions or your answers. You want your boss or your client to know you will be on top of even the smallest details, ensuring the highest quality from start to finish. And besides, you don’t want to look like you’re just sitting at the computer with nothing else to do but answer emails all day, do you?

At least 8 (and possibly more) of these common email mistakes can be avoided by using Save to Draft and thinking before you hit Send.