Never forget that e-mail constitutes a legal record and can be admissible in legal actions, not only in the courtroom, but in the court of public opinion. People sue for all kinds of silly reasons. Family members get into disputes, couples get divorced, consumers sue merchants, and vendors can pursue delinquent clients.

Whenever a lawyer is looking for damaging evidence, one of the first things they’ll ask for are e-mail records – and deleting them does not save you, as they can often be recovered.

E-mail is also not private. Employers have the right to monitor employees’ work e-mail, and if you e-mail anything to a “friend,” you have no legal right to prevent them from posting it or forwarding it.

So, before you hit “Send,” take a minute to make absolutely certain your e-mail doesn’t contain something you don’t want public. Pretend your boss/parent/spouse/religious leader/kids are copied on every e-mail you write. Better yet, pretend your worst enemy is…then edit before you hit “Send.”

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