Isn't Email a wonderful thing? I think so! In fact, I often wonder how we got along before we had electronic mail. But as wonderful as e-mail is, there are some dangers and drawbacks. I went over this as part of some on-going training that I am doing with our ministry staff here at the E-Free Church in Gaylord where I am the Lead Pastor. Below are just some instances that I covered with our staff where E-mail is not the best way to communicate:
When confronting an individual with a complaint or dissatisfaction. Remember, only 7% of communication are your words. 38% is your tone (your voice) and 55% is your non-verbal (facial expressions and body language). In other words, when you write an E-mail, I cannot hear the tone of your voice (I can guess, but that's about it) and I can't see your non-verbal facial expressions and body language either. This means that at best I am only getting 7% of what you are trying to communicate. In most every instance where I have confronted someone through E-mail, I have always been misunderstood.
When communicating complaints about individuals to third parties. If you have to communicate a dissatisfaction or complaint to an individual via E-mail (which, again, I strongly encouraged our staff not to do) don't copy the email to someone else. Few things are more disheartening than to get a "negative email" (even if the intent was good) and see that others had been copied on it as well.
When communicating highly complex information. If the situation is complex - call a meeting, pick up the phone or go to lunch and talk it over. Communicating complex information via E-mail is rarely effective.
Negotiations usually need back and forth communication. If you find yourself responding more than three times to an E-mail on the same topic, choose an alternate form of communication.
When communicating information that requires immediate action. I know that many people today have their E-mails right on their phones and have 24/7 access to their inbox. However, that is not always the case. There have been times when people have sent me E-mails that required immediate action but, for whatever reason, I did not check and read my emails until it was too late. If it requires immediate attention - call!
E-mail is a wonderful tool! I love it and appreciate it! But, there are certain circumstances where a "face-to-face" dialogue will always be the best and most effective way to communicate.