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How to Effectively Retract An Email Sent to a Wrong Email or Person

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 0:23
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Often, it takes an extra effort to persuade people that you do not really mean what you have said or written

With an email account like Gmail, retracting an email sent to a wrong person could be as easy as clicking “unsend” within 5, 10, 20 or 30 seconds of hitting send, depending on your previous settings. As good as this functionality is, there are times when you are unable to artificially retract an email sent to a wrong address. Handling a situation like this requires some level of care, especially in business.

The Case Scenario

You have hit the “send” button on your email, it has been received by the person on the other end, and you cannot simply recall it since the message has be opened and read.  And now, you are having a second thought about what has been written.

There are situations whereby you have passed across an unintended message or given wrong information.  You could risk being viewed as a liar, and it is practically impossible to meet one-on-one with the person on the other end.

Often, it takes an extra effort to persuade people that you do not really mean what you have said or written. While of course, you should avoid being insincere, you may need to make amends and pass across the desired information you intend by following certain tips.

Tips for an Effective Retraction of Email Sent to a Wrong Email or Person

  • Prepare and organize your thoughts adequately.
  • Analyze the situation and circumstances as at the time you sent the email.
  • Begin the email by going straight to the point. There is no need to slip in some phrases or sentences into your mail in the bid to retract the previous one. You will have to come out straight, hitting the nail on the head.
  • Let your message be brief. Long email gives the wrong impression that you are covering a lie.
  • In the case whereby you have given wrong information, you may have to apologize for misleading or creating wrong impression via your email.
  • Employ the use of adjectives. Adjectives are beautiful words. They can be used effectively to paint an appropriate and intended picture in our minds. When used well, they tend to help to clarify information.
  • Use intensifiers: These are words that make adjectives stronger. For example; Very, Absolutely, Exceptionally, Amazingly and so on.
  • Use filler phrases. For example; Actually, To be honest and so on.
  • Do not use idiomatic expressions. Also avoid figures of speech.
  • Focus more on the positive and not the negative.

Further Tips for an Effective Retraction of Email Sent to the Wrong Email or Person

  • State clearly that the information sent should be disregarded.
  • Apologize for sending unintended information; however, do not go over the top with it.
  • You do not need to explain the content of the message.
  • You do not have to go into lengthy explanation on how the mail landed in the wrong box.
  • The email should be brief and focused on the intended purpose alone. It is not to be used as an opportunity to communicate other matters, no matter how pressing such matters may seem.
  • Communicate how you felt after sending an unintended email to the person.

Sample Email 1 for Retracting Email Sent to a Wrong  Email or Person

Dear Sir/Ma,

We apologize for the confusion caused through the previous emails and the pictures attached to it. Our products are packaged in plastic bags and not in tins, contrary to what was sent. Those pictures were sent from our Branding and Packaging Department and are the proposed packages we intend to use in years to come.

Our present package is extremely moisture proof, durable and made from the finest raw material. It is guaranteed to prolong the shelf life of our products by keeping moisture away completely.

Our plan is to retain this mode of packaging for those who prefer it even after we introduce the tins to the market.


Best regards.

Sample Email 2 for Retracting Email Sent to a Wrong  Email or Person


I felt deeply embarrassed after realizing the message has been delivered to your box. I do not intend for this to happen. I must have entered the wrong email address. I am sure you were wondering why the information was sent and I cannot imagine how extremely uncomfortable you must have felt.

I apologize for this inconvenience.


Please, do enjoy the rest of day.

Sample Email 3 for Retracting Email Sent to a Wrong  Email or Person

Hi Catherine,

Oh dear, I am awfully sorry for the email you just received from me. Please kindly disregard it. It was meant for my girl friend. I guess I entered the wrong email contact. The first three letters of your names are the same, you know; though this is not an excuse to be clumsy.

I apologize for the discomfort I must have caused.

Thanks for your understanding.

Written by Teju Duru; a communication expert and freelance writer based in Ibadan.

Ayo Oyedotun is a professional blogger and freelance writer. He reads, writes and talks about business. You can follow him on Twitter @Ayo_Oyedotun[!/Ayo_Oyedotun] or read Business Owners’ Bible[].


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  • Mr. R. West

    This is worthless advice proving you are in the wrong field … you should be picking rice!

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