NOT cleaning up forwarded emails is one of my biggest pet-peeves. Not taking the time to do so can lead to embarrassing professional blunders. I’ve seen feelings hurt and jobs lost because of forwarded emails. Before you forward an email, you should always take the time to scroll through the message to verify you are not sending anything that could hurt feelings, invade privacy or is confidential.
Take the time to remove information not pertinent to the recipient – Review the message, the ENTIRE message, to make sure you are not passing on information that should remain private. An administrator at Oxford University accidentally forwarded a list of the 50 worst exam performers to thousands of students.
Remove previous email addresses – Would you want your email address sent to people you don’t know? I don’t. Show the courtesy to remove email addresses in the body of the email before hitting send. I have the personal email addresses of some real power players in the world thanks to someone that didn’t use clean up the body of the email.
Change the subject – When an email gets forwarded many times, often the topic may change completely from the original message. Make the subject relevant.
Remove unwanted attachments – Unless the attachment pertains to the message, remove it. I’ve seen someone lose their job because they forwarded a confidential document when all they meant to do was share the name of a restaurant mentioned in the email but didn’t take the time to clean up the email.
Use BCC – If you are sending to multiple people who may not necessarily want their email addresses known to each other, use the BCC field.
Delete unnecessary signature files and disclaimers – They are just a nuisance your intended recipients need to scroll through.
Add your intention – I often get forwarded emails from my executives with no instructions. Is it just FYI? Do you want me to schedule a meeting? Am I supposed to send something to someone? If you forward an email that requires an action, please include that information.
The Audacious Admin is Debbi L. Shaffer, an outgoing, resourceful and highly motivated executive assistant with 20 years of experience specializing in C-Suite Executive Support.