Publication 10, Issue 8
When is it not appropriate to send an email?
Dialing the phone is a lost art these days. I’m old enough to remember when calling someone was the only way to communicate, short of meeting someone in person or sending a memo or letter! I’m old enough to remember the piles of “While You Were Out” pink messages on my desk when I returned from a meeting, and I’d start to return calls in the order they came in! And if I was lucky enough to get the caller the first time, I had a productive conversation, spent a few minutes chatting and hung up! But times have changed. Now my phone hardly rings and my emails “ping” all day long! And, if I send an email and don’t get an immediate reply I think, my email system is down, the receiver forgot her phone that day – or worse yet – he died – because after all, if you send an email you should receive an immediate response, right? Wrong!
I’ll admit it is fast to open up an email, reply to all and hit the send button! I know email is an acceptable mode of communicating, but here are some examples when it is not appropriate to send an email:
- When the topic is “taboo” or potentially controversial and you know which ones they are – and you send them anyway.
- When you don’t want to deal with someone face-to-face, so you hide behind the screen.
- When you start the email off with an undertone of disagreement or discontent about something.
- And, of course, my all time favorite – when the message is confidential or is a human resources related issue.
How can you overcome the urge to send an email when a phone call may be best? Answer the question: Could this email cause a misunderstanding, hurt feelings or a barrage of unnecessary replies? And if the answers are “yes” – pick up the phone!