Be careful with email messages

Most of the work I do teaching communication skills involves talking in person. However, these days people use email for many things and often run into trouble. It can be a mild misunderstanding or a huge disaster, causing such things as the end of a relationship, job loss, or legal trouble. Why? A number of reasons. Email can be easily misunderstood since there are no visual cues or voice tones to convey meaning. A simple phrase can be taken to be serious or sarcastic and make all the difference.(more)   People also respond to emails impulsively, typing carelessly and hitting "send" or worse yet "reply to all." There is no interaction with email. That is, you don't get the opportunity to ask, "How do you mean?" and get a response to help you understand. Even without email, words mean many different things and communication is challenging. With personal relationships or matters that are of importance, we would do well to be very careful with using email. Better to pick up the phone or find a time to meet.  That might be harder but you also won't be using email to avoid conflict.  Here is an article on the topic: 

It's all about me: Why e-mails are so easily misunderstood

You can even take a whole course on line called

"The Dangers of Email Communication,"

which says, "While there have been many benefits to email communication, there have been several drawbacks as well. Email is sent quickly and without the kind of fact-checking and care that would improve communication. Email tone can be difficult to read and understand, often leading to difficulties, misunderstandings and hurt feelings. This seminar will teach staff and faculty how to improve their communication via email and avoid potential embarrassment and legal liability.”