Correcting an Incorrect Business Email

by Mary Cullen on Thu, Sep 11, 2008

What is the best way to correct an error in an email sent to multiple recipients, if you are listed in the cc: line of that email, along with other recipients?

It can be a little confusing, because if you are listed on the cc: line you can assume you are being informed, with no expectation of a response from you. However, the one exception to this rule is when you know the message to be incorrect, requiring you to correct the misunderstanding.

If time is not critical, do not reply to all and correct the sender. Instead, email the sender, explaining your correction, and ask him or her to resend the corrected information to the same recipient group. Only if the sender does not correct the message should you alert the group with your correction. If time does not allow you to alert the sender to correct the message, only then should you reply to all with your correct information. And, be kind and phrase your correction clearly but tactfully.

This applies in both business email and personal email. I received a message from a friend this morning alerting me and a large group of recipients how to detect a two-way mirror in case we were being spied upon in clothing dressing rooms. Ok, it was silly. Still, my friend who sent this message is well-intentioned and a nice lady. Another recipient replied to everyone, providing a terse message that the sender was incorrect and included a Snopes link (a site which identifies urban legends) refuting her two-way mirror test. This correction was unkind. The corrector should have sent the Snopes link to the original sender and given her an opportunity to make her own correction.

Give a colleague or a friend a chance to wipe the egg off their own face, before you throw some more.

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Topics: Business Email Writing

Mary Cullen

About the author

Mary Cullen

Mary founded Instructional Solutions in 1998, and is an internationally recognized business writing trainer and executive writing coach with two decades of experience helping thousands of individuals and businesses master the strategic skill of business writing. She excels at designing customized business writing training programs to maximize productivity, advance business objectives, and convey complex information. She holds a B.A in English from the University of Rhode Island, a M.A in English Literature from Boston College, and a C.A.G.S. in Composition and Rhetoric from the University of New Hampshire.

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