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This past week I met with the project team to discuss an upcoming meeting. I offered to relay their concerns to the individual I was meeting with later. Some of my team members asked why I thought an in-person meeting would be more productive than sending an email from the group.
I told them email is good for certain moments but that tone cannot be easily inferred in written communication. I explained that with sensitive topics, communicating intent with tone, body language and real-time dialogue makes makes a meaningful difference in arriving at an outcome that both parties can stand behind.
By delivering concerns directly (whether in person or over the phone), there’s a captive audience, the recipient is able to ask questions and get immediate responses. The team agreed that back-and-forth emails with questions often cause frustration for both parties. Being able to have a direct dialog, quickly answer questions and clarify intent is valuable in minimizing the feedback loop.
I am biased towards in-person discussions, but believe that each mode of communication has it’s optimal use. Here are ten guidelines that come to mind when I think about whether an email is the right one:
If you have your own rules you like to follow or disagree with statements above, please share your thoughts.