CBS MoneyWatch on Nov. 3 published a piece on 5 Career-destroying Email Blunders. I don’t think any of the blunders are as career-threatening as allowing a cat to co-author an email, which I’ve done on numerous occasions.
I’ll be typing away to an editor or a prospective client when, from out of nowhere, the cat will come bounding across the keyboard, making a kitty contribution of random letters and somehow hitting “send” despite his lack of opposable thumbs. So the sent mail looks something like this: Thank you for contacting me regarding/p;hjojkufth5rsbraefa34w@w3
And the next email starts out like this: No need to call 911. I did not have a seizure. My cat jumped on my keyboard. Sorry. (He says hi, BTW.)
This has never cost me a client or a job. But neither has the fifth and final “career-destroying” email blunder in the MoneyWatch article, which I commit routinely. (I reckon you do, too.) “Don’t use smug signature blurbs,” the boldface text warns. I assumed that meant to shy away from smarty-pants Latin phrases, perky affirmations, and enjoinders not to print emails because it’s insensitive to the environment. Instead, the author is talking about those automatically appended “Sent from my iPhone” or “Sent from by Blackberry” tags that appear on all outgoing emails sent from a mobile device unless you make a point of deleting or disabling them.
These standard signature blurbs “might seem innocuous, but they can have unintended consequences,” the author writes:
“You might be trying to say, ‘I’m writing this on the go, so the message will be short and might have a few typos in it,’ but the signature can come off as snobbish, and possibly even poison relationships with partners or clients who might have adversarial relationships with your phone manufacturer.”
Hmm. Really? I don’t think “Sent from my iPhone” comes across as snobbish or as a product endorsement. I purposely have let it stand as a means of conveying to editors or clients that their email matters to me so much that I stopped what I was doing in order to reply. If my response is brisker than usual, they’ll understand I’m on the run and won’t read anything else into it.
I think the real danger is that fakers and procrastinators will start forging “Sent from my iPhone” signature blurbs from their desktop computers to add credence to made-up excuses for not meeting a deadline (my main computer is down, my car went kaput out here in the middle of nowhere, my kid’s in the ER). If discovered, such an email blunder could indeed be “career-destroying.”
As for cats (or people or ghosts or chinchillas) prematurely sending emails, there’s a way to prevent that: Type the recipient’s email address last when writing a message, which prevents you from sending an incomplete or unchecked email prematurely.