I don’t know a single person incapable of making mistakes. We are, after all, human. However, I know just as few people who like to broadcast those mistakes to the rest of the world. Here are five mistakes that are easy to make and, hopefully, just as easy to avoid.
Avoid Reply All like the plague. Unless you’re absolutely sure everyone receiving your reply cares, leave this option alone. Far too often someone enters or exits a company and Welcome or Bon Voyage messages are reacted to with “Welcome Aboard” or “Good luck!” replies sent to a lot of people who just don’t care.
Likewise, be really careful about the CC field. CC-ing the boss to try to put pressure on someone when your natural powers of persuasion could achieve the same purpose is so lame.
Skip the Twitter spoilers. In an age of DVRs and streaming services, we don’t need to sit down at 9 o’clock on Sunday to watch the latest doings on Game of Thrones—we can watch it at our leisure. When you tweet “OMG, I can’t believe they killed Tyrion Lannister” (which, by the way, has not happened) even with a hashtag is likely to spoil someone’s day. If you can’t contain your excitement, stick with the “OMG!! #GoT.”
Carefully consider before clicking Forward. Veterans of the Internet have largely given up on the practice, but there are still people out there—and I’m looking at you, aged relatives—who forward the worst sorts of scammy-spammy-conspiracy email. Worse yet, in these days of phishing and identity theft, bad links can be embedded in these messages. If you know someone who does this, politely ask that they keep this kind of thing to themselves.
About those effusive email signatures. Like on a first date, there’s a fine line between being open to a measure of intimacy and vomiting your life all over someone. This is true in regard to email signatures as well. If your signature contains a list of accomplishments that would make a résumé blush and/or over-the-top images, it’s time to recall the adage that Less is Often More.
Wait, do I know you? I get it—you’re trying to expand your network for the purposes of work or a more interesting social life. But sending social media requests to complete strangers (and yes, the girl you had a massive crush on in 2nd grade who moved to Wisconsin the following year can be considered such a stranger) is poor form. If you’ve actually worked with someone, a LinkedIn connection makes sense. Likewise, if your real life relationship is more intimate than simply passing someone on the street, by all means become Facebook friends. Otherwise, concentrate on those people who wouldn’t be uncomfortable chatting with you in the real world.