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Email Tip to Avoid Embarrassment

I just received an excellent tip on how to avoid accidentally sending an email reply in Outlook. The tip is thanks to Darek, who attended Better Business Writing last week.

Here is the tip: When you are writing an email reply, type some gibberish (nonsensical information) in the CC line–something like this: ;ljds;lfjad;fj. With the gibberish there, Outlook will not send the message. It will instead provide an error message, like this:

Microsoft Office Outlook does not recognize “;ljds;lfjad;fj”.

Using this method, you will never send an email accidentally. You will never again send an incomplete, unedited, sloppy, or embarrassing message by mistake. When you have edited, spellchecked, and proofread the message, simply remove the gibberish and click SEND. Success! Professionalism! A job well done!

I’ve tried Darek’s method, and it works perfectly. Thanks, Darek! By sharing this tip, you have made the world a happier place, with far fewer episodes of miscommunication.

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

4 comments on “Email Tip to Avoid Embarrassment”

  • Another tip to avoid embarrassment with email is to set up a rule in Outlook to delay outgoing emails by ten minutes. This way they sit in your outbox just long enough for you to have “d’oh” moment and retrieve them.

  • This actually does not work. It will send it to the person in the TO: field but then not send it to the person in the CC: field because it doesn’t recognize it.

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