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How to protect yourself in the wild world of e-mail

Work e-mail dos & dont's

E-mail is the most convenient and dangerous invention ever created. You can gossip on the phone with half the world and not do the kind of damage one word in an e-mail can do. Hell, if someone calls you complaining about the gossip, chances are the story this person heard isn't the one you were telling and you can deny it. There's no denying the black-and-white e-mail. Never ever e-mail one thing that you would feel uncomfortable if even one other person saw it. So in the true "Cover Your Ass" entrepreneurial spirit that is required in these competitive times, we offer you some e-mail don'ts.

Work e-mail dos & dont's

Mind your manners

DON'T just blindly forward material along.

Always read from the bottom and delete anything that may compromise someone else. You've got to protect each other.

DON'T forget to read from the bottom up when people forward e-mails around.

Most people forget that a trail of information is included and, more times than not, not meant for you to see. We've actually been forwarded correspondence from clients sharing interdepartmental haggling about our fee. We're quite sure we weren't meant to see that.

DON'T forward junk mail or chain letters.

Ever. It's just a pain in the ass, and if you become known for them, people stop reading anything you send.

DON'T mark them urgent if they aren't.

Most people are getting 50-plus e-mails a day and need to prioritize them. If you need immediate action, pick up the phone.

DON'T forget to check who is actually in the "To" line.

Because of auto-fill it's all too easy to send things to the wrong person. Your client doesn't need to know that you're fighting with your husband.

DON'T ever confuse the "reply" and "reply to all" key.

DON'T ever delete an e-mail.

The electronic trail is the greatest thing about it. Create folders and file them for future use.

DON'T use those stupid smiley faces ?or TXTing shorthand.

It's just irritating, especially if you're like us and have no idea what people are talking about.

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