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Do You Hide Behind Email?

“Too often we take the easy and often cowardly option of using email or text
messaging to avoid the emotional discomfort of a real time conversation.”

– Forbes Magazine, Margie Warrell

A client recently shared he missed a team meeting and received a scathing email from his colleague. Admittedly he was overwhelmed with budget planning, performance reviews, and hiring new team members – but none the less, an honest mistake – something he had never done before. The email was direct and accusatory, catching him off guard and as a result he became triggered – heart pounding, mind racing, and distracted for the rest of the day.

Another executive was berated in an email which was cc’d to the rest of her team. As it turned out the mistake wasn’t even hers. She confronted the sender, he apologized, and sent a revised email to her team.

Before you send “that” email – couple suggestions:

  • Write your thoughts down BUT do not send. Give yourself 24 hours to “cool off”.
  • Speak in person or by phone, and as close to the event as possible (after you’ve cooled off).
  • Prepare yourself so that you are able to remain grounded and calm.
  • Stick to the facts. What is the specific action that led to the negative outcome? Be respectful and don’t make it personal.
  • Think about what you could say that would make the situation better and preserve the relationship?
  • Think about what you could say that would make the situation worse and damage the relationship?
  • Ask yourself – What if I’m wrong?
  • Consider intention. Was the person being rude and inconsiderate or just an honest mistake?
  • Share with your colleague the action that you would have preferred to see (versus what actually happened)?

“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity…Words have energy and power to help,to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.”
– Yehuda Berg

This blog is part of a Mindful Leadership series: A mindful leader is someone who brings out the best in one’s self and others by showing up present, grounded, and compassonate in all situations – especially challenging ones.

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