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Ten Things Never To Say In An Email Message


Liz Ryan


I write about bringing life to work and bringing work to life. 

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.


Email is a lifesaver in lots of business situations, but it’s not the right channel for every message you need to send.

When you send an email message that’s hundreds of words long, few recipients will be able to dig in and give your message the time you probably feel it deserves. Unless your recipient has asked you to communicate your thoughts in full detail in an email message, there is undoubtedly a better choice of medium.

A more effective way to communicate a lengthy point of view or explanation is to talk live or meet in person. That way, you and your colleague, customer or vendor can talk through the points instead of your recipient having to integrate them one after the other in a long email message.

Email is also bad for emotionally-laden messages. There is always a better way to communicate your strong feelings than to dash off an angry email message that cannot possibly make the relationship between you and the message recipient stronger.

Here are 10 times never to convey what you want to say using email.

You Messed Up

It can be tempting to blast out an email message that says, “Hey Bozo, you screwed up that order,” but it is never a good idea. If you want to upset the person you think messed up, then an email message will undoubtedly accomplish that goal, but what good will that do? If you want the person to really hear you, choose another way to discuss the topic, and don’t place blame.

I’m Unhappy With You, I’m Angry Or I’m Disappointed In You

It has never been a good idea to send an email message to let someone know that you’re feeling hurt, insulted or angry, but people do it every day. Adults communicate face to face or via telephone or Skype when they have something sticky or personal to say, and this is your responsibility, too.

You’re Wrong

If you hold a different opinion from one of your co-workers, that’s fine — spirited debate is a great way for incredible ideas to emerge from a team. Never use email to say, “You’re wrong,” even if you feel strongly about it and even if you have facts to back up your position.

When you stomp on a co-worker and say, “You’re wrong,” you’re saying, “I’d rather win the battle today and lose the war by souring my relationship with my teammate than take the time to get my point across while respecting everybody’s views.”

You Obviously Didn’t Read My Message — Read It Again

It’s frustrating when people don’t read your email messages, but it’s not a great team-building strategy to fire off a message that says, “Obviously you haven’t read my email message.”

Here Is My Lengthy Argument Or Pitch

Go ahead and compose your lengthy argument or pitch for an idea or a plan in written form, but don’t send the email message when it’s done! Arrange to talk through your pitch in real time with the person who needs to hear it.

Russell Edmond