"If you haven't received a windfall of money after sending out an email that promised such, don't bother sending it to me." A friend of ours has no compunction about letting friends know that he doesn't appreciate chain emails.
Chain emails intimating doom if you break the chain are annoying and rude. The only benefit is that they tell the receiver something about you. Maybe you aren't the person they thought you were if you believe in five days a person's life with fall apart because they didn't continue the silliness.
Disinformation seems to be very popular with the chain emailer set. Did you know that the Post Office is going to stop using images of blacks on stamps? During the presidential campaign all kinds of disinformation arrived daily - some downright evil. Thank goodness for snopes.com. This site comes in handy when you want to separate cyber-myth from fact. That Dalai Lama list of feel good advice for the good life? He had nothing to do with it. But its warm and fuzzy advice still is a nice read. Do we really think he had the time to pair pictures and words and create a powerful Powerpoint presentation for all the world to see?
We understand that there is no quicker way to report the death of a loved one than a mass emailing. But it can be very shocking way to hear of a loss depending on your relationship. A phone call is in order if you know that a person knew the departed. (Sometimes we're not in daily contact with friends, doesn't mean that we don't care or that we are estranged.) An email to the family expressing your sympathy is thoughtful, but we like notes and phone calls before emails.
If you work via email, be careful to be specific in the subject line. Recycling emails from your inbox can be tricky and you never know where it's going to be forwarded. Yvonne received an email from a friend that had been in his inbox for a while. Its contents included an earlier conversation he'd had with another friend who had been critical of Yvonne and made a comment that wasn't very nice. She never knew that this person felt this way about her and it was hurtful.
If you're going to gossip about someone in an email, make sure you're not sending it to the person you're gossiping about. If that person's name is on your mind and you're writing about them, it's easy to pick their name out of the address book and click. Best to not gossip at all, but if you must, because it can be tempting, pick up the phone or meet for lunch or something.
Speaking of the phone, be sure to follow up important emails with a phone call. Not everyone is email dependent.
Know that the spoken word is different from the emailed word. What sounds pleasant to the ear can be unpleasant when written because you can't hear the person's intention in their voice. Best to read and re-read an email aloud before you send it off.
We have all regretted pressing the Send button and wish we could take back that moment. If you wouldn't send the same message off to someone in a letter, don't do it in an email. Emails are forever and they travel well. And that's not always good.