7 Email Faux Pas That Make You Look Totally Unprofessional

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1. Bad grammar. If you are sending emails to clients and co-workers, make sure that you are using correct grammar (invest in a dictionary or grammar guide).

You may not be working in publishing, for example, but this does not exempt you from writing clearly! When you include gratuitous–or even minor– grammatical and spelling errors, your intentions can be misconstrued and you definitely will end up looking unprofessional.

Double negatives = Is this person serious?

2. Not addressing someone correctly. If somebody signs an email to you with their first name, then, in that case, and only in that case, it may be appropriate to address them in a similar fashion. On the flip side, if a person sends an email using their whole name (Mr. Mike Jones), then you should address them similarly. On another note, if a person addresses you by your first name, you can assume it is safe to address them in a similar way (for example: Hi Lisa). You can never be too careful. There are some uptight folk out there!

3. Unnecessary exclamation points and emoticons. There is literally nothing worse than losing professional credibility when you’re just trying to be nice. Certain professionals will see you as emotional or excitable and somewhat frivolous. Boo. While a flat-tone in email can come off as stern or even angry, it is certainly the safe bet.

Consider selecting one sentence with which to use exclamation points–because sprinkling them everywhere just looks like you’re not taking yourself seriously.

4. Cursive script, background colors and colored font, with a highly decorative email signature. Great news: We do not live in 1999, which means you do not have to take advantage of every single option on the computer (or in your Outlook settings) just because it exists. No, your name in large, purple script is not okay.

A clean, short and concise email signature in white and black is all that is necessary.

5. Hitting reply-all. When you hit reply-all by mistake, it works like this: Someone notices that they received an email that doesn’t regard them and they make a joke about it to their cubicle partner. Then, that person makes a joke about it to another person and suddenly you look like you don’t know how to handle The Internet.

We all know that’s not true, so do your best to exclude the whole office from your personal responses. On the other hand, please do hit reply-all if you mean to respond to a group. This can otherwise cause major email miscommunications.

6. Consistently marking your messages urgent. Seriously, it’s not that serious.

7. Long, drawn-out philosophical quotes. This is also pretty annoying–especially when you contact the same people over and over. A Thoreau quote does not make you look any more intelligent, we swear.

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    • TyreeNoone

      In sometime we can not find correctly the right email address.


    • Sylvia Bouvier Szczepanik

      Hi how is this negative content helping me get better… by now most people should know what not to do and if they don’t your article is not going to help them, they are not the readers of those type of articles. So who is your reader? Me who wants to write the best email possible? no? I don’t want to read what not to do… I have learned that through experience… which is the only way to learn in life. I wrote one email, a person emailed me back stating how impressed they are with my qualification, but my email was terrible, and that is why they will not consider me for the job. English is my 5th language I need to be very careful, I need people to proof read… its a lot of work, but if I want a job, I do it… Do you really believe that someone who writes bad emails is even aware of writing bad emails? NO. They will look at your article and they will ignore it.. Positive advice, please. Make me better, how can I become the best job candidate out there…I already know what not to do … but what extra I can do to get the job of my dream? To write an article of what not to do you first need to make sure that people who are doing X are aware of doing it.. and “psychology 101″ people who are not writing great emails, people who are doing things that are not good for them, are A) not aware, B) don’t care. so who is this article for? me who got the email from the person who was hiring saying, “you have amazing education, amazing qualification but your email is disrespectful it has so many mistakes in it, you didn’t even spell my name correct, even if I wanted to hire you, I can’t” That was a lesson of my life. I promise you that for everyone who is making mistakes in life, the only way they will learn is if they fall, not by reading your article. Great article, but it has no true reader? You want a reader that will read your article copy it and frame it, because with all the advice there he/she has not heard that yet, and this may be the “it” thing that will get them the “edge”.. My mom is a very good writer … I’m afraid of writing because english is my 5th language … writers block.. but when I see an article like yours, I feel sad for you… you had put in effort and it is a well written article.. but who is benefiting? who is printing this article to their binder of Career Advice, “interview process advice”? “What to do when…”

      • heather-marie rothstein

        i m a CEO own biz love it from home,and a office.
        I also agree with SYLVIA on many relevant points,on this well written article today

        I am into business for myself.over 15yrs.since age barely 19,
        independent contractor master degree and B.A. involving paralegal specialist field so i am ALWAYS networking wiht Many million dollar$ a year attorneys who consut with our staff regularly,i NEVER receive a negative feedback,on a purple or pink fuschia color for mi name heather,etc. and i am again also put in my signature 2 photo/promo of my paralegal specialist biz. *shrugs*but i do agree on all the rest, spelling is a must for me,as a paralegal,but suprisingly EVEN THE BEST,LAWYERS and i have met a few nationwide,f—k up,on a brief,draft for a spell error or two.Judge seem not to mind shockingly so i do not really care,but i always triple-check mi work. Attorneys i tell my clients,even flucked up with a spell error here and there,but again i try not to.

      • Lory

        That response was so bad, I couldn’t even read it. For shame.

    • heather-marie rothstein

      i would not mind a emoticon or two!
      at any age.do not matter,they are so cute!
      colorful cheerful,and i am not minding such.
      But a consistency of exclamation marks,from potential clientele
      who are reaching my biz,for help i do advise them(do not encompass more
      than 1 or 2 exclamation marks)because i just do not think it looks nice.
      But i still,shall offer my consulting on such inequities,for which the client is looking to sue pro-se for.Again great article,i live by this daily,making me the success i am.

      • dfmcminn

        A paralegal consultant? I don’t wonder your clients aren’t jailed. Agree with Lory. Disgraceful everything. If I saw an email by you in my inbox I wouldn’t be able to hit delete fast enough

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    • APJH

      Ms. Basile, it’s hard to take you seriously when you write about composing more professional emails and watching for “bad grammar,” then go on to use the word “literally” in such a blatantly improper way. The irony here is that you use the word in the same sentence as “losing professional credibility.”

    • Lory

      This article is great, I agree with the fact that there could have been a couple more “Do’s” along with the “Don’ts”, but overall I think it was great advice. I think the only people who do not agree probably don’t have jobs where they have to make a good impression through emails. Gramatical mistakes in an email to the boss or a customer will not help you succeed, and an email full of emotocons will make you look like a 14 year old.

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