by Allen J. Sheinman | June 01, 2010

Chain letters and off-color jokes are annoying enough, but many people unknowingly misuse e-mail in other ways. Jean Kelley, Tulsa, Okla.-based president of Jean Kelley Leadership Consulting ( and author of Get a Job; Keep a Job, addresses some common mistakes and reasons to avoid making them.

Sensitive conversations. If you need to criticize or express disappointment, it's better to do it face-to-face or via phone. The message will gain disproportionate intensity in the harsh light of e-mail.

"Reply all" vs. "reply." Answering an e-mail sent to 100 people doesn't mean you have to send your response to all 100. Imagine if all the recipients kept replying to the entire group. 'Nuff said.

Poor grammar or spelling. An occasional typo is no big deal, but consistently bad grammar and spelling is a poor reflection on the sender. Always respect the written word, even if e-mailing. Use spell check and proofread your messages.

Bad subject lines. For day-to-day business purposes, use straightforward subject lines that nail the content of the message; leave the cute and clever quips to marketers.