E-mail Tip #1 - Use the Right Mode of Communication
The first mistake leaders make is to consider e-mail as the right way to communicate in most circumstances. This is not true. E-mail should be used for only a narrow slice of the normal day to day communication in a working environment.
It is not good to have personal or emotional discussions in electronic form. These need to be face to face for several reasons. In these delicate discussions, body language is essential, and there is little body language in e-mail notes unless you are well trained to read between the lines. Second, the permanent nature of e-mail makes it a challenge to write something you will not regret later. If emotions are high, talk out the issues in person.
When e-mail is used as a catch-all for giving complex instructions or long procedural material, people often cannot properly absorb the information. This leads to the familiar frustration on the part of bosses when they say, "How come nobody is following the new procedure, I sent out instructions in an e-mail last week." Well, you may have sent them out, but they were too long and detailed for anybody to wade through, so you were not communicating, you were just covering your rear.
When people are in a squabble, e-mail often tends to exacerbate the situation. It is time to pick up the phone or walk down the hall to discuss the issue in person. In fact, one of the most often mentioned peeves of working people is the practice of e-mailing messages to people in offices within earshot.
The idea in this article is to always consider the alternative communication approaches and do not just automatically rely on e-mail notes. Often the alternate is a better approach.