I recently forwarded an email containing feedback about one of our startups’ products to the entrepreneur. I read the product feedback which was the most recent content in the email chain, but didn’t read the long string of earlier emails.

In addition to their product feedback, the person sharing the feedback had also written their personal view about the entrepreneur in one of the earlier emails. This personal view wasn’t pretty. The entrepreneur appreciated the product feedback but naturally didn’t appreciate the personal feedback.

There are two lessons here. The first is for me. I need to either read the full content of an email chain, including the string of earlier emails, before sharing the chain, or, if I don’t have the time to do so, I need to copy and paste only the relevant part of the email chain.

The second lesson is for everyone. Don’t write anything in email that you’d be ashamed to say in public. View all written communication, including email, as being in the public domain. Because it is. This example shows that things can go wrong even when people have good intentions. They’re very likely to go wrong when people with bad intentions access your email.