effective communication skills

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 email.

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 paralanguage.
Complicated instructions 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.

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