When Not To Use Email
Because email is so pervasive, it may seem like it should be used for everything, but this is
not true. There are clearly some situations where email should be used and some times when you should not use
Here is a list of times when you should not use email.
||The worst time to use email is
when a message is extremely important or confidential and you cannot risk it falling into the
wrong hands. Some people criticize the President of the United States for not using email, but I
suspect that most of his communications need to be kept confidential! Remember never to use email to
communicate proprietary corporate information because email is simply not secure.
||If you want to conduct
negotiations or hold a give-and-take conversation, or you need to reach a consensus, email does not
work very well. Whether you want to negotiate a price reduction with a supplier or persuade your
supervisor to give you a pay raise, issues that call for back-and-forth discussion are best held on the
phone or in person. This is especially true if you don’t know the other person and have the
benefit of having already established rapport.
||You need to conduct a lengthy
interview with a long list of questions that call for detailed answers. Typing is much
slower than talking, so the other person will appreciate not having to carefully write and proof the
answers and you will benefit from being able to ask follow questions on the fly.
||Email doesn’t work very well
when you need to communicate bad news, complaints, criticism, or anything sensitive or
controversial. Without the benefit of facial expressions, intonation, and body language,
misunderstandings and hurt feelings could more easily result if you deliver bad news electronically
without the benefit of paralanguage.
||You need an immediate
response from someone who has a tendency to procrastinate. We have all been guilty of
thinking “I’ll get to it later” and later never comes.
||When you don’t want a permanent
record. Remember that once you send an email, you can never get it back and you lose all control of
what happens to it. A good rule of thumb is never to write or include anything that you wouldn’t want
to see published on the front page of your local newspaper.
||Participants are located
physically close together and can easily talk to each other thereby getting the benefits of
that will generate questions and require further explanation are best left to other, more flexible,
methods of communication.
||When your message is long enough
to fill more than one page of text. Messages that are longer than a few paragraphs appear
intimidating to the receiver and are less likely to be read. Long messages also take a long time for
the sender to write and edit properly.