Are You Using Email Appropriately?

In a world where it's quicker to communicate without ever picking up the phone or meeting in person, it's also become increasingly more common to use these same popular forms of electronic communication to communicate things that never should have been put in writing. What do I mean by that? Email is emotionless. No matter how many exclamation points, smiley faces, and bold-faced words you do or don't use, the message still falls flat on the screen of the reader. All emotion read into your email is entirely up to the discretion of the recipient. And what's even worse, any ambiguity in your email will almost always be skewed toward the negative.

A former boss of mine gave me some of the best advice when it comes to appropriate and inappropriate use of email:

Email should be used for information and affirmation only. Everything outside of those parameters should be communicated in person

If you are communicating facts, dates, a time to meet, or anything to that nature, then by all means email away. If you have a quick word of praise or encouragement for a job well done, then again, email away. There is no ambiguity in either of those things.

However, if there is any hesitation on your part that what you are writing can be misinterpreted, then pick up the phone. If you have bad news to give or a topic that needs further conversation for clarity's sake, then pick up the phone. If you begin typing a third lengthy paragraph, then pick up the phone.

I will be the first to admit that it's far easier to hide behind a screen to say the things that I shy away from when in person. But for the sake of clarity and respect for the other person, I have chosen to think twice about what I put in writing. I hope you will too.