When I was 9 my beloved older sister emigrated to Australia. To soften the blow my mum brought me a writing set. I’d sit down at my desk each week to write a little snapsnot ‘the cat brought a mouse in, a girl at school was sick in her lunch, I love Take That… etc’. One day after a nasty family argument, I wrote that I hated my sister for leaving me. The letter lay on my desk, when I’d cooled off the next day I tore it to pieces in a classic 9 year old strop.
I often wonder how many e-mails people would be better off sitting on and then tearing to pieces. Hotheaded e-mails are lethal. If your emotions have taken over there’s nothing more satisfying than tapping out your anger in the safe confines of your inbox.
I think we have all experienced that feeling: you feel righteous and confident that our e-mail will make the recipient see how unfair their behaviour has been. But, it doesn’t. Expectedly, the e-mail is received with the same indignation as it was sent.
Regardless of the outcome, the hot headed e-mails have cost us dearly in the efficiency count, we probably need a face-to-face to clear the air, and trust and new agreements need to be rebuilt.
E-mail has triumphed because its a very effective way to communicate a wide variety of messages, however it does not communicate emotions. Never bring up emotion issues with the computer as a middleman, otherwise one e-mail can spiral into half a days work. Instead pick up the phone or jump on Skype, its much easier to resolve conflict face-to-face, and makes for a less stressful life for everyone involved.