For the last few weeks, off-and-on, I’ve been blogging about the things people do when they send email that negatively impacts both their credibility and effectiveness. My last post was on how it’s critical to offer your phone number as an alternate way for your email recipients to contact you. Today I thought I’d make one final point that’s been at the back of my mind ever since we started on this subject.
In my opinion, the biggest blunder that people make with email is sending one when they shouldn’t! There are times when picking up the telephone or walking down the hall to talk to the person is a far better alternative than sending an email. Sure, email may seem easier at first blush, but if your message is likely to escalate emotions, then email should never be your first choice, or for that matter, any choice. In fact, email in such situations is more likely to deteriorate into what I call “email warfare” – a rapid-fire exchange of emails, each one more emotionally-charged than the last, and usually cc’d to additional people in each round. Never a recipe for a positive outcome! As powerful as the written word can be, it simply cannot reflect the nuances that exist in facial expressions, body posture, tone, pace, pitch and volume of voice. Which means that emails can be easily misunderstood, particularly when the topic being discussed is emotionally-charged. The alternative: talk to the person face-to-face, or if that’s not possible, pick up the phone. Even a voice mail is preferable to an email in such circumstances.
Well, have you observed situations of “email warfare” gone horribly wrong? Do tell.