We've all heard the stories about accidentally hitting "Reply all" when you meant to send an email to just one person. But that's not the only way you can embarrass yourself when your brain's working on automatic. Imagine writing an angry, emotional rant about someone, then realizing you sent your email to the person you were ranting about! It sounds bizarre, but we've heard this story over and over again.
Becky suggests two ways of avoiding this. First, fill in the "To:" field after you've written the email. And second, don't use email for those angry, emotional rants, or to share negative feedback or bad news. It's all too easy to write things online that you'll later regret. Email is exclusively for sharing factual information, or congratulating someone or a group. Second, when you have bad news or negative feedback, pick up the phone and talk to the person.
Facebook faux pas
On the subject of writing things you'll regret, Facebook really isn't the place for religious or political rants ... especially when you've got clients and co-workers friended. It's not that poitical or social commentaries are of themselves a bad thing, but they may alienate your clients or coworkers and hurt your career in the long run. Try starting a blog instead; Dreamwidth lets you specify who exactly can see your writing, so you can rant or discuss controversial subjects without offending anyone.
The other big no-no, as far as Facebook etiquette goes, is pictures. You know that picture you took at the party where your friend was doing that thing? Yeah, that thing. This may be common sense, but not everyone asks before posting embarrassing pics of their friends. And if you're not sure whether or not your friends will think it embarrassing, you should definitely ask. Also, you should always ask before posting photos of kids.
Cell phone upsets
There's a long list of ways that you can embarrass yourself with a cellphone, and we're not going to repeat them here. Except one: Don't text someone late at night. You might've intended for them to get it tomorrow morning, but the Pew research center says 65% of Americans sleep with their cell phones. Millions use their cellphones as alarm clocks, and you'll be getting them up a lot sooner than they'd wanted if you text late at night!
So don't text at night ... and don't forget to factor in time zones.
Becky says that she is often asked about using email instead of a thank you note.
The basic rule here is if a close friend has you over for dinner or lunch, a thank-you by email is fine. But for really generous acts, or when you are writing to people who are more formal or old-school, go for the handwritten note.
Gifts are also best replied to with the personal touch a note offers. But when it comes to gifts for your kids, Becky suggests recording a short video -- maybe a minute or so -- of your kids playing with their new toy. You can edit it in iMovie, OpenShot or Windows Live Movie Maker, and send it to them by email.
Finally, email invitations are appropriate for almost any event, short of a wedding or funeral. Just don't let the invitations you receive pile up in your inbox. RSVP ASAP, whether it's a digital or analog invitation.
- Becky Worley