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Forwards. Don't you love getting that same joke or hoax caution forwarded to you a dozen times from different well-meaning friends and colleagues? What about the forward that you get that you know the original sender didn't intend to share with others? How special do you feel when you see six forward marks indicating that you are the sixth person in a series of forwards? Most of us react negatively to all of these situations. The best solution is to ask people to remove your name from their mass forward list. Sometimes this can result in hurt feelings.
Those folks may just see themselves as just being thoughtful. But what should you know and do so that you aren't the guilty party, sending unnecessary and unwanted forwards? First, think carefully before actually forwarding anything. Is it appropriate? Is it necessary? Is it clear? If you answered no to any of those questions, then refrain from forwarding. Anyone who forwards needless or worthless emails is seen as not professional. Second, if you do decide that forwarding will serve a purpose, then be sure to edit out all the superfluous material, such as the forwarding marks, the headers and comments from the other forwarders.
If a forward is appropriate, then forward only the portion that applies to your reader. Third, personalize the forward by taking time to write a personal comment, telling the reader why he is receiving the message. For example, Frank, below, read from the bottom up, is the brainstorming June and I did to arrive at our recommendation for the revised office arrangement. Frank may or may not be interested in the brainstorming that went into your recommendation, but at least he knows the purpose of the forward without having to read the entire series and try to make sense from it.
Fourth, if you are considering forwarding a private email that was sent to you, get the sender's permission. A legal issue is certainly involved. But additionally, common courtesy dictates that you should ask the original sender if the email can be shared, and tell him or her your purpose for wanting to share it. So always ask if an email needs to be forwarded. If the answer is yes, then be certain to adhere to the guidelines and help the reader understand the email's purpose immediately, and then help him or her read the message quickly.
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