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How to Survive a Kamikaze E-mail

Accidentally hit "Send" with some nasty dish on your boss? Here's what to do now.


  • Step 1: Undo Open your mistake by going to Sent Messages and clicking the message. Look for a button or drop-down menu item that says Undo Send or Recall Message and click on it. For instance, in Outlook, Recall This Message is on the Actions menu.
  • Step 2: Distract recipient Distract your unwitting recipient. If it’s someone in the office, go and talk to them. If it’s someone else, call them. Get their attention away from their computer so they don’t see the message before it can be unsent.
  • Step 3: Prevent future crises Ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Go into your e-mail's settings menu and enable the feature to delay or undo sent e-mails.
  • TIP: Outlook, create a new rule to check messages after sending. Select the number of minutes for the program to defer each delivery. In Gmail settings, enable the undo feature in Gmail Labs.
  • Step 4: Apologize If you can't unsend, or if your recipient read the e-mail before you had a chance to unsend it, call the person or persons you offended directly. Apologize, keep the conversation brief, and end by saying something positive.
  • Step 5: Wait for it to blow over Lay low for a while and give it some time to blow over.
  • FACT: Did you know? During World War II, roughly 3,000 kamikaze pilots died trying to crash their planes into American ships.

You Will Need

  • A computer with internet access
  • Phone

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