Email and Digital Voice Message File Attachments: Watch What You Write and What You Say

For years, we have been saying, “watch what you say in email, as it may come back to haunt you.” Everyone knows this maxim but surprisingly few seem to heed that advice.

Email truly has become a clear and present danger to the corporation. Indeed, the higher up in an organization one goes, the more likely email will be used for the wrong reasons and potentially end up in the hands of someone who will happily read the messages — usually years later — out of context. Many executives (and even government officials) save email for no reason other than to cover their “assets,” should matters take a turn for the worse one day. I sat and watched a clever young barrister once cross examine a senior executive for two days on the silly things he said in his email box. That executive promised me that he would never use email again. Of course he used email again — we all do for the same reasons.

If you think email is risky and you take what you believe to be all the necessary precautions, consider the implications of digital voice technology. When you call someone and go “into voice mail,” did you know that in many organizations your message is saved in a .wav file and automatically forwarded to the person you tried to get on the phone via email? Unlike email, which lacks tone of voice and is easily read out of context or explained away, digital voice messages will have many of the attributes needed to understand exactly what the person meant when they said “we need to kill the competition.”

If you never heard of digital voice technology, or have heard of it but don’t know about all the risks, you are not alone. A recent survey suggests that organizations are mostly in the same boat and the ship has set sail.

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