Theory of the Day – People like e-mail because they are emotionally “cold” (this also goes for text messages). Because so much of emotionally significant communication is carried in tone and body language e-mail is both dangerous and safe for people. Safe, or at least the illusion of safe, as less resonance occurs than face to face. This means that less desirable messages (I’m thinking of people cancelling appointments at the last minutes for example) can be sent without feeling the reaction of the person being dumped/fired/ generally shat upon. A more positive side of this is that people have time to edit “toxic” thoughts into more constructive ones. Even this however is dangerous as authenticity may be lost.
The main danger is that e-mails are no less “emotional” in their impact and because of the lack of clarity around tone may be easily misunderstood (which is why the much maligned smileys were invented 🙂 For me, e-mailing difficult message shows a lack of courage or concern. If you deliver an unpleasant message by e-mail you will pay for it in the long run in damage to task, relationship and your own integrity. Don’t be a coward – deliver emotional messages face to face or at least by phone – it will save you a lot of trouble in the long-run. If this is too scary and idea it may be time to develop your emotional intelligence, personal leadership and ability to handle stress.