Friday, May 31, 2013

Cool Off, Will Ya?: Using Email to Express, Not to Depress

A conversation I had today with a high-ranking executive of a major New York corporation reminded me of a tip that I wrote in my book The Art of E-Mail Writing:

Consider whether e-mail is the best way to reply. ... Think about whether a phone call or a walk down the hall to your targeted audience would be more practical.

The executive said, "I try to get my staff not to hide behind email. It's easy for them to fire off at people when they don't have to face them. But when they do see them face to face, they're forced to find a more respectful way to communicate."

Several executives have expressed to me the same concern: too often their employees inappropriately use email as a means of attack or retaliation. Remember that email is a tool for communicating information, no different from a memo, letter, or report. It is also a powerful means of building or destroying relationships, so use it for its positive ends.