Have you ever written an email for your lover and accidentally sent it to your entire address book? Or zinged off a juicy email about a coworker--to that very coworker? It's safe to say we've all clicked on the "Send" button seconds before realizing that we've just done something incredibly stupid.
And misery loves company, so we bring you some mortifying real-life email disasters and tips for avoiding future embarrassment.
Email disaster: "Sally, my fiance, had bought me a skimpy red Speedo bathing suit for my birthday. She didn't get a chance to see me in it, so I took a picture of myself wearing it in a joking muscleman pose. The subject line was 'You want some of this?' Five minutes later I got a note from my boss, Salvatore, saying, 'Not really. But thanks anyway.' I wanted to die."--Joe, an accountant who asked that his last name not be used
Lesson 1: Make sure your automatic email address function fills in the intended email address. It's too easy to hit "Send" after typing in just a few letters of a name and having the wrong one pop up in the "To" field.
Email disaster: "Years ago, I drafted an email with an account update for my boss. In the subject line, for fun, I wrote 'email for the Doberman,' because the client's last name was Troberman and he had a fairly aggressive 'bark.' My boss rewrote the email to be his, but he didn't change the subject... . My boss was not happy with me!"--Laura Beck, public relations account executive
Lesson 2: Be careful with subject lines and other email content, since you never know where they'll end up. As a general rule of thumb, never email anything that you wouldn't send to any colleague or client.
Email disaster: "I got an email that sent me into orbit, and I wrote a tirade that I thought I was forwarding to my boss. But unfortunately I replied to the email instead of forwarding. There is something about a making a mistake like that, that you know the second you hit the button."--Eleanor Taylor, senior marketing strategist
Lesson 3: If you're upset, don't send an email right away. Give yourself time to cool off. Also beware of the common mistake of replying to an email you mean to forward, or of choosing "Reply All" by accident. (Some email programs also let you select a sending delay during which you can retrieve your email message even after pressing "Send." If you know you have to watch your temper, choosing this option may be a good idea.)
Email disaster: "A work fling and I had lots of fun until one day he accidentally sent me an email that was intended for another girl he was also hooking up with. In the email he went on and on about how terribly annoying and horrible I was. I was devastated."--Sascha Rothchild, author of "How to Get Divorced by 30: My Misguided Attempt at a Starter Marriage"
Lesson 4: Check and double-check the "To" field before sending. Another good policy is to fill in that field last.