At this point in history, the number of people who have lost jobs for being bad at email is likely to be uncountably large. Sadly, we lawyers have quite a bit of exposure to bad-email liability as our emails go to clients, courts, opposing counsel, and co-workers, and each is scrutinizing your words for different reasons.
Fortunately, when it comes to email, you can take a little comfort in the fact that you can proofread to make sure you are being clear. Below you can read a few tips for sending and replying to emails around the office.
Understand What's Being Communicated
Recently there's been a bit of a hubbub over a tongue and cheek decoding of commonly used phrases in office emails. The decoding explains certain phrases, like "hope this helps" or "I see your point" are simply polite ways of masking a snide attitude. And while there's bound to be at least a few choice phrasings and decodings that just hit home for you in these satirical pieces, usually the phrases mentioned are used in earnest, or just by rote.
If you don't understand what the phrase "please advise" (or any other phrase) means, Google it. While there might be a rush to respond, when responding to an email, if you haven't read the email you received, you may be missing critical information. One of the easiest ways to actually understand what you need to communicate in a reply is by reading what was actually sent to you.
Email Is Important, So Act Accordingly and Proofread Everything
Email has revolutionized the working world. And when it comes right down to it, your emails could end up being part of some lawsuit. The following new-age idiom might sound familiar, but if not, remember it: "Dance like no one is watching; email like you will one day be reading it aloud at a deposition."
Additionally, you have an opportunity to clearly communicate your message via email, so don't forget to proofread to make sure your email makes sense, includes the relevant information, and is addressed to the correct people (and any attachments are the correct attachments).