Thursday, August 29, 2013

How to resend, recall or aplogize for wrongly sent email


Today's blog addresses resending messages and sending email where an errant address causes significant damages and an almost irrecoverable damage to a company's reputation.

Resending messages
This method can be a very useful tool.  Often a recipient  has not received or has lost a message.  If you do resend a message and include additional recipients, take the same care and steps as you would when forwarding.  If the original mail was a sender request, make sure to state "second request or "resent" in the reference bar.

Do not gloat about resending a message to prove a point since the original meaning for sending or interpretation for a message may have been misread by the sender.  If you are resending a message which was not received, was lost or needs more information, take proper care that the content is still timely, relevant and complete.  You may need to add more information and if this is the case, add the information separately and be clear as to how and why.  Do not change the original message since it may later be read or compared to the original.

Actions when an email is wrongly sent

Most email users have experienced the heart-sinking feeling in coming to the realization that an email was sent to the wrong person or group.  The emotions can vary from mild embarrassment or irritation to full-scale panic.  Similarly, ramifications might be the wrongful recipient not having a second thought, being slightly annoyed to experiencing anger, resentment or even taking action.

The following is an example of an email which shows how one error can cause great emotional  distress and embarrassment to the sender and their recipients. 
"On Friday, more than 1,300 employees of London-based Aviva Investors walked into their offices, strolled over to their desks, booted up their computers and checked their emails, only to learn the shocking news:  They would be leaving the company.  The email ordered them to hand over company property and security passes before leaving the building, and left the staff with one final line:  'I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and wish you all the best for the future.'  This email was sent to Aviva's worldwide staff of 1,300 people, with bases in the U.S., UK, France, Spain, Sweden, Canada, Italy, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Finland and the Netherlands.  And it was all one giant mistake:  The email was intended for only one individual."

What actions should be taken?  Some email programs allow for message recall, but this rarely works even if done quickly. In all instances, a brief email should be sent acknowledging the mistake and making assurances, not excuses, that more care will be provided in the future.  If the potential fallout from the error may cause serious results, such as job loss or financial repercussions, then a more detailed email (or personal communication via phone or face-to-face) might be better served.  If certain damage has been done, financial or otherwise, the sender should ask the recipient to suggest a satisfactory solution.  Clearly the actions to be taken with the example shown above is to set the matter straight and issue an immediate apology.

Another necessary action with the drastic effects which should be taken immediately after a wrongly sent email is to make sure the true intended recipient be sent the errant correspondence.  Of course, it is an essential aspect of Netiquette to explain the error, how it happened and what, if anything, were the corrective actions.  These should also be a request to acknowledge receipt of the email as well.

What to do when an email with multiple addressees is returned because of one recipients delivery error

On those occasions when an email is sent to more than one person and a failure occurs for only one of the intended recipients, there are different actions the sender selects.  One is simply to resent the message after correcting any possible mistakes in the rejected email address.  This can be awkward since the other addressees will have two identical emails.

If this approach is taken , either a resend comment should be appended to the description field noting the repetition  or another approach which some senders choose is to resend the message only to the person who did not receive it.  Although this does prevent duplication emails to the other recipients the single addressee will not have the knowledge of the others who have the same email.  This can cause miscommunication, possible confusion or some embarrassment.

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We will be publishing a book on Netiquette shortly entitled "NetiquetteIQ - A Comprehensive Guide to Improve, Enhance and Add Power to Your Email". Also there will be an email "IQ" test on our website:

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Happy emailing and good Netiquette!


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