When Not to Hit the Send Button

Just because you can send an email message, doesn’t mean that’s the best option for you. Before you hit the Send button, before you rejoice in marking another task off your ‘to do’ list, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Are you in your normal ‘happy camper’ frame of mind? Feeling good about life? If you don’t feel right, you might want to ‘draft’ this message for a few minutes.

2. Is there any controversy involved in this string of messages? Are the people involved clarifying and re-clarifying what they wrote? If so, it’s probably better to pick up the phone, or walk to the cubicle next door and talk about it.

3. Are there legal ramifications to this exchange? If so, think very carefully, review after distancing yourself from the message, before sending it.

4. Is the recipient likely to be offended by the content of your message. If so, pick up the phone!

5. Do you sense any email drama in development stages? Prevent a full-blown soap opera segment by picking up the phone, or email a request for a face-to-face meeting.

6. Would you like to build a better relationship with the recipient? Meet with the person for coffee instead of sending email.

7. Are you trying to be persuasive? All other things being equal, spoken messages are more powerful than written ones.

As a general rule of thumb, use email and texting for less important messages. Voice mail is better; there is more context in your voice than in your email. The best communication is actually meeting with the person, with a phone conversation in second place.

Be strategic and choose the best medium for your message; it does matter. That’s why Marshall McLuhan became famous for saying, “The medium IS the message.”


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