Oh No You Didn’t! Sending Email You Didn’t Mean To


September 28, 2011

During a particularly lively lunch discussion with some colleagues, we jumped head first into the topic of email you’ve sent that you immediately wished you hadn’t.

Maybe you’ve been in this situation:

  • You receive an email that went to a large distribution list and you accidently hit “reply all” on a sarcastic response you meant to fire off just to your closest work friend
  • You are complaining about a specific employee to another person and accidently send the complaint to the employee you were talking about
  • You forward something that you’ve not read thoroughly and it has some information that others could find offensive

The list can go on and on.  Regardless of the mistake, the moment you send the email you get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach and try to quickly retract the email.  And, note to self, that RARELY works.

So let’s have some fun today- share a story about a time you sent something out via email that you wished you could take back.  Go ahead….we won’t tell!


  • A friend of mine in recruitment sent out a job offer but accidentally sent it to the candidate who DIDN’T get the job.. Then had to call them and explain about the mistake and that they actually didn’t get the job. Awkward.

    • @Emily- Now that is probably really easy to make that mistake but what a HUGE thing to have to take back. That is like a recruiter’s nightmare! Thanks for sharing it.

  • I sent out a global email regarding the sales of a Non-profit’s T-Shirts. It was all going fine until someone highlighted the fact that I had actually made a rather large typo in the subject line. I forgot that there was an “r” in T-Shirts!

    • @Brandon- Ahhh…..the dreaded curse word email. Wow, hope it all turned out ok. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • I’m usually pretty good with email, especially at work, so my best example is one that also highlights my dorkitude. In my fantasy baseball league (see, I told you) we had an owner announce in a blast email that certain players were up for trade. I responded with some specific interests and a trade offer. To everyone. No real damage done, but I still hear about it from time to time.

    • @Dwane- Way to share with everyone Dwane….that is just the type of nice guy you are, right? 🙂

  • Early years in Payroll, I’m talking like I’d been doing this maybe 6mths. An employee asked for a copy of her pay statement so I printed it to PDF and emailed it to her. Only her name started with AL which also happened to be the first two letter of the All Employees email address. She was cool about it, she said she thought it was funny that everyone could see what a South Alabama Head Teller made, which was crap. But i could have crawled under the carpet under my desk, I felt awful about it. To this day I double check corporate emails at least three times before sending.

    • @April- What a lesson! Of all things to share, I know compensation is the worst. At least you didn’t share a spreadsheet with everyone’s pay on it, right? 🙂
      Thanks for sharing your story April

  • DID IT! I forwarded an email with instructions and an attachment from someone else for a project we were sharing – forgot that way down in the beginning of the email, the original sender said she was sending it to me because she didn’t want to deal with so-and-so’s idiosyncrasies. Woops. I backtracked okay, but I’m not sure they ever actually saw it. Hm.

    • @Lizzie- What a story! I sure hope they didn’t see it. Don’t you just get that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you send one out like that? I sure do! Thanks for sharing.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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