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Heels In The Fast Lane: Email Etiquette and Copying The Wrong Person

A story about having an epiphany on Madison Avenue. 

Jobs are unique in that you don’t know 90 percent of your colleagues beforehand. Every character is new so you are forced to act professional or at the very least on your best behavior.

It was my first tech meets fashion client I picked up where all communication was orchestrated solely via email with the exception of one cordial and very formal in person meeting which occurred at a locale We Work space in Midtown Manhattan. Other than that, I had no idea who these people were and their relation to fashion. Everyone was dressed like an extension of a J.Crew catalogue, so as far as I was concerned , they needed my fashion trends. Weeks went by and my first assignment deadline was approaching. I gathered my content assets and submitted my work without hesitation. As far as I knew, my job of handing in a document full of words was complete; I wasn’t responsible for meeting any other goals.  So for part time work,  I decided to work at this other company handling more “intricate fashion” dwellings in search of a higher “fashion education,” and that’s where irony smacked me dead in the face.

One afternoon, my full time job lead me to doing sales in the heart of New York’s fashion district with a fellow co worker and our next stop lead us to the LVMH headquarters. While trying to get a meeting with a Parisian head fashion executive, I casually checked my email, and that’s when I read an email that was not entitled to me.

“ We need to recruit more writers, these ladies aren’t getting it. They don’t know anything about fashion.”

The email wasn’t intended to me, but it was definitely about me. I presume the HR person with the same name as me was suppose to receive the message but because autofill and computers, it came to my inbox instead.

After reading those words, I was shocked and angry at the same time, and as the elevator’s doors opened and my colleague and I (from my other full time job) walked through a silk wallpaper upholstered hallway leading to the meeting of the year with this Parisian Executive, I contemplated the fate of this client. Is this really how nasty colleagues can be when you’re not cc’ed or part of the conference call?

The anger lasted for a second, because I realized I was standing in the Head of Womenswear director’s office, on short notice, all because, again, presumably the company I was representing had something of value to offer her company’s couture collection – a unique garment care program that had never been done before. Sales or not, I had arrived, unannounced on Madison Avenue, even though an email sent in bad taste had said otherwise about my skills and expertise.

After the meeting on Madison Avenue, I kindly responded back to the email stating that my services would be discontinued effective immediately on that day and that the company had net 5 to pay what was owed to me at that point. At the very least, I was embarrassed, but from the company’s response to mine, they were too.

To send an email to the wrong recipient is embarrassing and intrusive. It’s a personal conversation that wasn’t meant for the person wrongly cc’ed , especially if the conversation is salacious and gossipy. What I learned from the experience is to always request feedback from your work to make sure you are producing satisfactory products and on the email front, don’t push send on an email without TRIPLE checking the email address in the “To” field.  

Have you ever been sent the wrong text or email? Comment below!