Don’t Use Email As Your Shield, Pick Up the Phone!

About eight years ago, while working at Yahoo!, I developed a few rules of email etiquette.  Too many of our team mates were misusing email, or applying it in emotional clumsy ways.  Tempers flared, and I had to put out fires.

It was a unique problem to this generation, where email became 75% of all communications inside & outside the company.  The more we used it without any guidance, the more we abused it. 

When I taught new hires or coached sales execs, I always issued what I call “Rule Number One: Don’t Use Email To Give Bad News.”  By that I mean that email is a horribly ineffective communication channel when it comes to conveying your intentions.  Too often, when someone gives you blunt criticism over email, it makes you steam…but in person, you’d be OK. 

Even worse, email promotes cowardice at work.  People will send me emails that contain language they’d never say to my face.  I think some people are as brave behind their laptop as my poodle is behind a plate glass window!  As times goes on and the GenY, “I don’t believe in real time” ethos sets in…expect email to be the bearer of bad news…and negative emotions.

The key then is to pick up the phone or have a face-to-face discussion when covering emotionally charged, personal or potentially negative issues.  As you’ll see below, you are 500% times more effective over the phone than over email. 

Here’s my full Rule Number One, from the Dirty Dozen Rules of Email Etiquette video training program I developed for companies.  (Email me if you’d like more information on bringing it to your company, we’ve got a great deal going between now and Labor Day.)

Don’t Use Email To Give Bad News Or Criticism