by Editing Working Girl
I can be reached by e-mail at all times, both business and personal. I love the fact that though a few years ago this would seem obsessive behavior.But with the bounds and leaps of smart phones, pretty much every one of you can claim the same fate.
With all of this constant connection, something is bound to go wrong. Like that e-mail that you thought you only sent out to a coworker calling your boss' bluff but didn't realize you hit "Reply All". Maybe even that draft you keep to rant in that accidentally was sent? That e-mail to a customer that was meant for a coworker? Sometimes, it happens.
Luckily, I have only had this experience in a very mild manner. I was forwarding an e-mail to a coworker so he could see my prior conversations with a customer he was on the phone with and accidentally sent it to the customer. No harm, no foul. But what if I had said something bad in the e-mail? What would I have done?
I think the best way to handle that sort of situation, is to be completely upfront and claim responsibility. This can go further than you think. Instead of blaming it on the e-mail system, computer, internet, distraction - admit fault. Yes, you did accidentally send a horrible e-mail out, but trying to hide behind the computer further will only make things worse. Secondly, depending on how bad the e-mail actually was, make sure to throw the appropriate apology in there. Maybe it will open up discussion between you and your boss? Maybe your coworker will forgive the things you said? Hopefully, you will get the issue resolved.
As Editing Working Girl, this is where I plug the great habit of editing every e-mail. If you make it a priority to glance over your e-mails before you send it (starting with the Send To line) there is a good chance you can avoid this situation. I do it now for every work e-mail I send after that mishap with the customer. I take it to the next level and after I forward an e-mail I check my Sent folder to make sure it did, in fact, go to the right person. Be proactive.
As the woman in charge of Twitter at my office, I have, on more than one occasion, sent out a personal tweet on the work account, and vice versa. Luckily, I have always caught it right away and Twitter has a delete button.
Has this e-mail snafu happened to you? What advice do you offer Working Girls who may be going through this situation (or may go through it in the future)?