An email is a fabulous tool. It truly is an excellent way to communicate when a person is in a hurry and needs to send a quick message. It is also a terrific way to send a response without bothering someone. You may send a message when you have the time, and it allows the other person to read the message when they are available. You can mark the message “urgent” to indicate a timely response is necessary. You can attach pictures and documents if necessary. An email allows you to title your message so that the recipient knows what it is in regards and allows them to find the message quickly in the future by searching for the subject title. Email is an excellent way to communicate quickly but there are email etiquette pros and cons to be aware of.
It is not always the correct option for communicating. There is a time and a place for electronic mail. For example, an email message should not replace a conversation that should be conducted in person. Emails should be quick, direct, and to the point. An email should also not be lengthy like a book. An email should not be used to conduct the battle, express a problem abrasively or used when someone is upset. When it comes to writing an effective email, less is more. There are times when a personal conversation should be conducted so that details can be provided.
An email also lacks a tone. Because it lacks a tone, it is up to the recipient to attach a tone for you. Now it is at the mercy of the recipient’s mood. For example, let’s say you send a perfectly harmless message to a co-worker but their boss just finished disciplining them about something. The recipient may be receiving your message at a very upsetting time. Therefore, you may get a message back that is instead the product of their current state of mind. In addition, your message may sound fine to you but be taken completely wrong by the individual who received it. It happens every day.
When you send an email you take a chance. You take a chance that is not going to be interpreted the way you intended and some damage control may be necessary.
You should never send an email when you are upset. These conversations are better said in person and after a good night’s sleep. If you have a need to vent, type the email without a recipient on the top. Sleep on it and see how you feel in the morning. Hopefully, you will see that a conversation in person would be far more effective. You can attach a tone and sincerity to a conversation that is face-to-face plus you will decrease your chances of being misinterpreted.
Colleen Harding is a certified etiquette and protocol instructor and the founder of the Cleveland School of Etiquette and Corporate Protocol. Programs and packages available for children and businesses.