Electronic words

by: Anthony Demangone

Yesterday, a colleague and I were discussing just how dangerous emails are.

We’ve all received an email that took the wind out of our sails. A poorly crafted email can be a punch in the gut.

And if you’ve received one, you’ve likely sent a few as well.

And just why is that?

  • Emails are easy to send. Perhaps too easy. You can fire off a note without thinking. To quite a few people. In different time zones. All in a few seconds.
  • Emails rob the sender and receiver of a number of social cues. A smile. A laugh. The tone of voice.
  • Emails are great between friends. But work conversations often involve people on different levels of a organizational chart. Someone is asking for something. Or telling someone to do something. There’s a little bit of tension in emailing “the boss.” Or in getting an email from one.

With all of the danger, I’ve heard a few rules that try to chip away at the danger of “electronic words.”

  1. Never send an email in anger. Ever.
  2. Whenever possible, only use email to inform. In other words, if you’re doing something other than informing (criticising, judging, arguing, persuading), consider picking up the phone or walking down the hall.
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