Until I recently started working, I did not know that it was acceptable to mail people at work about anything and everything. Though I thought it was weird, I realised how useful it is for a person who hates confrontation. I have a well-known history of foot in mouth syndrome and also avoiding confrontations. Other than this, I found that emailing just saves a lot of time. It acts as a reminder and is just more convenient to email at work when someone is not immediately or directly accessible.
But I found many instances when a face to face conversation was warranted. It was more effective and even though possibly difficult to have, the conversation brought better outcome than an email would have. These are some instances when sending an email at work would be a bad idea.
When Not To Send An Email At Work
When There Is A Possibility Of Misinterpretation
Sarcasm is notoriously misinterpreted through text. That’s not the only case. Without a clear indication from your body language and voice intonation, an email can be easily misinterpreted. Context and emotions are hard to convey through an email. If not worded right, a demand can sound like a request and can be taken lightly. Or it can offend the receiver because they interpreted your words differently.
In such a case, I once had a colleague who would ask the manager to proofread an email at work before she sent it out to the client. She didn’t want her assertive tone to come off as rude. This incident shows how subjectively a situation can be interpreted. Your grammar and punctuation can also be mistaken if not used right. In such a situation you are better off having it supervised or have a conversation on the phone to avoid any misunderstanding.
When You Are Emotionally Charged
Never send an email at work when you’re angry. Hiding behind your monitor, you might say some things you would never say if you were actually talking to them in person. You might be too rude. Your criticism might be too harsh. Either way, it is always best to respond or send an email at work when you can think rationally and not impulsively. If you have already typed it out, save it in the drafts. Come back to it later to check if what you wanted to convey can be framed better. Or just speak to them in person.
A confrontation may be difficult but can reap better outcomes. It can build stronger and better relations at work. But if you are easily intimidated by confrontations, this article on 5 Critical Steps To Fearless Confrontation in Forbes Magazine is a must read!
Besides, you can get into trouble for it as there is evidence to show your nasty words.
When It Is Important And Urgent
If you have to deliver an important piece of information that is time sensitive, call the person or find them. People do not check their email at work all the time. There is a possibility it might get mixed up with other emails and loose priority. Send out the email only if they are absolutely not accessible.
When You Want To Make A Memorable Impact
Be it to appreciate or to give constructive feedback, doing it in person is better because it makes more of an impact, especially when you are criticising someone since it can sound harsher on mail. But it can be framed differently when done in person so that you can control the outcome of how people take criticism.
When You Want To Make Sure It Is Not Avoided
It is easier to lie or avoid things when it is not done face to face. If you want something done immediately and feel like the other person might avoid a question, call them or confront them.
They can just say they did not read the email you sent. But lying is more difficult and easier to catch when done in person. When you directly request something, you are more likely to get what you want. An email gives them an excuse to not reply or they can simply deny having received the email at all.
When It Is A Weekend Or Between 10pm To 7am On A Weekday
Most people would like to stop thinking about work once they are out of the office. If you are sending an email after working hours you are less likely to receive a reply before it is a reasonable hour. And even if you are not expecting a reply immediately, late night emails can be hurting your team.
So,When Is It A Better Option To Send An Email At Work?
But before sending an email, always ask yourself if this is best conveyed personally, otherwise go ahead and send the email. These are a few instances when sending an email at work is no big deal.
You can send an email in the following situations:
- As minutes of a meeting.
- As a reminder.
- When the person is not accessible and it is no urgent.
- When you have to convey a plan that needs to be documented.
- If you want to document a conversation.
No one will teach you how to send emails. When you start working, the least that is expected out of you is to know when, when not to and how to send emails. It’s a very important channel of communication for working professionals and can make or break a lot of deals. Hence, it’s super important that you are on the top of the game.