An email sent in haste can have disastrous consequencesIt's hard to beat an email if the same message has to be sent to several people. A single click and your work is done. But the flip side is that if you write an angry response to someone and send it off immediately, there is practically no way that you can withdraw what you have written.
Even worse, you could compose a private message to one of your team members and hit the reply-all button by mistake.
How can you avoid making mistakes like these? First, try never to send an email when you are angry. Write what you think is an appropriate message and wait a day before sending it. If it is not possible to delay your response, have someone review what you have written.
Another practice that you should follow is to double-check the recipients of the email before you send it. The few extra seconds that this takes could save you a lot of trouble.
Never use an email to reprimand a subordinateNo matter how carefully you write the message, the criticism that you send by email will generate resentment as it will be recorded permanently. It is preferable to castigate your subordinate personally or at the very least, on the phone.
Another downside to admonishing a team member on email is that it is very difficult to convey emotions using this means of communication. The words you write are liable to be misinterpreted. In the eyes of the reader, the message may seem harsher than you intended it to be.
Your message may get lost in the clutterMost of us receive hundreds of messages a day. It is very difficult to keep track of them all. While it is true that the emails you send to subordinates will definitely get read, there is a good chance that your communication to peers or other recipients will be ignored or simply deleted. A solution to this is to convey important matters by phone or in person. If the matter to be conveyed contains a lot of information or data, it is preferable to send it by email and then follow up with a phone call.
Be careful about how often you communicate by emailThe fact that it takes very little effort to send an email can also be one of the greatest drawbacks to this method of communication.
If you are in the habit of shooting off emails at the slightest pretext, the result could be that your messages will be ignored by most people. Consequently, even the important issues that you want to convey could remain unread.
Use emails along with other modes of communicationWhile emails have great utility, they should be used as judiciously as possible. Sending too many can be counterproductive.
They are the ideal way to convey detailed information and data, but not the best means for exchanging ideas on complex issues. For these, nothing can beat a meeting where everybody involved is present.