Last week there was a problem with the trash area where I work, so I did what I always do: I sent an email to the office management letting them know of the problem. When I immediately got an “Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender” bounce back email, it hit me: I had sent the email not to the office management, but to my bcc distribution list which has a similar (apparently too similar) name. Rather than remain mortified, as one is in the instant of the realization, I decided to share the lessons I learned:

Lesson #1: Double check who you’re sending emails to before you hit send. Triple check if you’ve had triple sec or it’s after 2:00pm.

Lesson #2: The probability of unintended eyes reading your email is always greater than zero so write nicely. I call it the “zen” zone.

Lesson #3: Owning up to your mistakes is always a good idea. Within minutes of realizing my error, I sent out an “oops” email, apologizing for sending it to the wrong group, explaining it was meant for the office.

Lesson #4: You can count on a response rate to any email. Most come within hours. Response rate to this email was 20%. Half of those responses came between the original email and the “oops” apology email. The other half came within two hours of the second email.

Lesson #5: Update your contact and distribution lists regularly.

Lesson #6: Humor rules. 70% of responses were humorous. My favorite: “LOL! Always good to hear from you, Shelley! Even with your trash talk!! ;-)”

Lesson #7: If you see something, say something. Chances are you’re the only one reporting the problem. In this case 30% commiserated over this occasional problem and thanked me for letting the office know, since they never had.

Lesson #8: Any communication is better and more fun than no communication.