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Three Situations Where It Is Inappropriate To Send Emails At Work

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Emails are the most common form of communication between bosses and subordinates, colleagues and teammates at work.


Communication is key whether at work, or personal life. In the workplace, there are so many ways we use emails to communicate.


However, there are certain instances where this form of online messaging is not the most effective way to communicate.

Three Situations Where It Is Inappropriate To Send Emails At Work
Photo: The Guardian

Sure, it’s easy to hide behind your computer and say what you want to say via the keyboard. But sometimes you need to step out into the world and use your voice.


Below are situations where face to face dialogue or calls should replace emails at work.

Sending emails to resolve conflict

We’ve all been part of an email or message string between two parties trying to resolve an issue. Sometimes, you might be one of the two main participants or perhaps you’re simply one of many people someone felt compelled to include.


With every message reply, the issue escalates. In the end, what was perhaps a relatively small issue has become a much bigger one. This usually results in a face-to-face meeting between the two parties as well as a supervisor or manager to resolve the conflict.


Instead of using email or messaging to resolve conflict, call the person, or schedule a face-to-face meeting.


If you are the recipient of an email or message from someone else trying to resolve an issue, resist the temptation to respond via email.


Pick up the phone or walk into the other person’s office and say, “I received your email and thought it might be better if we discussed this situation one-on-one as opposed to by mail. Do you have a few minutes to talk?”

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If email is your only option, do not copy other people on it. Doing so escalates the issue. If you’re on the receiving end of such an email don’t hit “reply all”.


Simply reply only to the individual who sent the email. If you do “reply all,” your reply should say, “I appreciate you bringing this situation to my attention. I’ll call you in just a minute to discuss.”


This will alert everyone who has been copied that you are taking care of the situation one-on-one.

Avoid sending emails when you are upset

After an upsetting situation or interaction, what we need is a cooling down moment. Email and messaging do not help with this. Once you’ve calmed down, call, or visit the individual to discuss the situation.


If you are on the receiving end of a scathing email, resist the urge to reply. Give yourself time to calm down and then call the person and ask to discuss face-to-face.

Three Situations Where It Is Inappropriate To Send Emails At Work
Photo: ZORA-Medium

In the future, decide in advance that you will never use email or instant messaging when you are upset. Make this a non-negotiable pact with yourself.


If you feel the need to write something when you are upset, handwrite a message. Don’t enter it into email even if you don’t intend to send the message. You wouldn’t be the first person who accidentally hit the “send” instead of the “save” button.

Emails are not ideal for delivering bad news

No one likes to receive bad news and receiving it via email or a message can add salt to the wound.


Using email or texts to communicate bad news can send the message that you don’t care or that the issue isn’t important enough to warrant your personal attention.

Three Situations Where It Is Inappropriate To Send Emails At Work

When you use email or messaging to communicate bad news, you have no way of judging the person’s reaction. Most likely, people will be disappointed or upset. If you’re not delivering the news in person, their feelings of disappointment may escalate and create an even worse situation.


Lastly, when you use email or messaging in this scenario you appear cowardly. Customers, co-workers, bosses, and friends appreciate people who have the courage to communicate bad news in person.


If you’re unsure your message qualifies as bad news to ask yourself, “Would I want to receive an email or message with this type of news or would I prefer to have it communicated in person?”. Then act accordingly.


While there is no doubt that email or messaging is a quick and efficient means of communication, it’s not always an appropriate one.


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