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RECALLING MESSAGES IN OUTLOOK: It Means the Opposite of What You Think...

To: Corporate Drones

From: KD

Re: Big Mistakes in Outlook Messaging


I don't want to go off on a rant here, but let's say for a second that you've made a big mistake in Outlook.  Maybe you emailed the entire company DL on a trivial matter, or maybe you've replied all on a message and been critical of someone on that list.  Maybe you emailed a payroll file to a lot of people who have no business accessing that file.

You're freaking out.  We get it.  You start thinking about how recalling a message in Outlook works. RecallOutlook2010

Don't do it dude. By recalling that message in Outlook, you're basically showing the world that they must read the previous message from you immediately.  Most of those people weren't going to read your message anyway.  Sure, the Gladis Kravitz's of the world will read it and make people aware, but you have to choose - do you want Gladis to spread the word, or do you want to tip everyone who got your message off that there's a career-ending mistake the email they got from before your recall request?

See this post for technical details of why most recall attempts fail at some level.

Just because you sent the recall request doesn't mean that it happens automatically.  You recalling the message actually does the opposite of what you intended.

Want a better path? Have a friend who's the Outlook administrator at your company. Go to them and tell them why it's mission critical that the message get wiped.  If the critical reason is more than just your embarrassment, you've got a chance to get that done.

Somebody sent me a recall message over the weekend from another company.  I read the email, because that's what humans do.  We ain't nothing but mammals.

And stop enabling "read receipt" why you're at it.  You know it's telling me you're requesting that, right?  Where's the trust? Where's the love?

See this article for a sad piece on how a former NBA 1st Round draft choice found himself trying to recall a message sent out to corporate America.  



Joel Kimball

One of my folks at my last assmt did one of these - sent a file w/PII to some folks who shouldn't have had it. Long story short - recall through IT, those we couldn't we approached empls individually and verified they deleted it. Followup note from me to the entiiiiiire workforce to let them know we'd effed up, bu fixed it...I fielded >100 calls, personally, reassuring empls we'd ensured the security of their data that we'd GROSSLY MISHANDLED. Cause my name and number were on the notification letter cause...leader.

My guy bought himself two weeks off, and a valuable lesson - look before you leap, and recall is for losers!

Great story as always, KD. Peace and love to HR Capitalist Nation!

Elyssa Thome

Recall never works like you think it will, but wouldn't it be great if it did?
At a former company I had a colleague try to recall his angry departure email sent to the whole company. This led to restrictions on the company-wide alias. And I had no problem reading it on mobile.
In this case, the lesson learned was not to restrict the company-wide email alias. Talk about lack of trust! And it's very very easy to work around.


One of the most common ones is when someone is making a comment about someone else and they send it to that person because they are thinking about them. Not good!

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