While email has made workplace communication efficient, there are times when face-to-face or screen-to-screen conversations are needed. At these times, defaulting to email is risky and may result in workplace nightmares.
When Technology Leads to Trouble
Who doesn’t love moving issues, problems and grievances off of a work desk? While auto correct protects us from grammatical errors, there is no technology discernment checker that alerts us when emailing is inappropriate and a conversation is necessary.
Email is your enemy when communicating concerns about behaviors or performance issues. Never email a colleague when you are in conflict. While confident of your ability to hide your frustration and anger, it’s next to impossible to compose a message presenting your case without releasing emotions. Sending email when you are angry or frustrated invites gossip and misunderstanding to move in and multiply. The words we compose while facing a blank computer screen, when directly looking at a person.
Email Limitations and Liabilities
Email is devoid of context and human beings communicate through body language, expression and voice. Tone is difficult to interpret and easily misinterpreted without hearing the inflection of someone’s voice.
Yes, it can be challenging, awkward and difficult to talk to others about concerns, performance gaps and needed improvements. Even so, defaulting to email in an attempt to prevent coming across frustrated and angry is risky and dangerous. Instead of averting conflict, you may unintentionally, launch a workplace word war.
About Your Columnist
Lorie Reichel Howe is a featured columnist for Women Lead, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence. Lorie is founder of Conversations in the Workplace. She leverages over 20 years of expertise in communication and relationship management. She equips managers and teams to have “safe conversations” – transformative dialogue that uncovers hidden workplace issues. Whether issues are challenging team dynamics, mismanaged expectations or good old-fashioned bad behavior, “safe conversations” foster greater innovation, inclusion and collaboration within organizations.