We’ve all hit “send” on an email and immediately regretted it. Email is a valuable form of communication, but like any good thing, without discipline and guidelines, email can be a very dangerous thing.
There are legal, ethical, moral and cultural reasons you should never say some things in an email. Just remember, whatever you write in an email will always be there. Always. You can delete the email, but it can always be found again. Words are so powerful and things said in an email carry great weight.Words are so powerful and things said in an email carry great weight. Here are 3 things to avoid: Click To Tweet
Here are 3 things to never say in an email (and some guidelines to remember):
1. You are fired.
Never use email to deal with performance issues. Using email to fire someone or attack someone for performance gaps will end up being a big problem to manage. A guideline to remember is to never send an email when you are upset. Hard conversations are just hard and avoiding them by crafting an email simply isn’t good leadership. If it helps, draft one and keep it in your draft folder for a few days. A face to face meeting to address performance gaps is always best. Performance issues are a two-way conversation and email is a one-way message. If you need to fire someone, you need your partners in HR to help.
2. You are beautiful.
In a work or church context, never use email to make personal references to someone about their appearance or personal feelings whether good or bad. Using email in personal ways to flirt with someone is an absolute never. These comments are appropriate to your spouse, child or grandchild maybe, but never to a colleague, employee, volunteer, or ministry partner. A guideline to remember is that anyone can read an email so if you are okay with your pastor, boss, spouse, or board member reading it, you are probably okay to send it.
3. You make me angry.
Never ever send an email in anger. When your emotions are high in anger or frustration, you are most at risk of sending an email that you will deeply regret. Anger is an emotion and you do not want to be an emotionally reactive leader. Great leadership requires managing emotions. Get the emotion under control so you can think and lead with clarity seeing the bigger picture and the implications of your response. It doesn’t mean you don’t need to deal with issues but you don’t need to deal with them in the heat of anger and through email. Most of the time, anger is a secondary emotion and you need the time to dig deeper to identify the real issues at hand. And often, your anger is directed at someone when further reflection will help you see it has been misdirected.
Use email with wisdom and keep these guidelines in place. It can make the difference in your leadership and in the culture of your organization.
What would you add to this list?