Why you might not want to email your complaints

Have you ever used email to complain or air your criticisms to another person? Is the sky blue? Of course we who use the medium have all done it. Some times we thoughtfully consider our words and present our concerns to the other person in a well-crafted letter and other times we fire off an email without much thought but that gets right to the point. Either way, it is an inferior means of communication. Here’s some of the problems:

1. Nuances are lost. What, wouldn’t a well-crafted letter that stays on facts and away from emotionalism be better? In most cases no. When we speak face to face, our faces convey nuances that the written word lacks. We can say hard words or blunt words with a smile and a softness. Or we can say kind words with firmness. No matter how much underlines you use or how many emoticons, email is inferior to face to face.
2. The medium tempts unthoughtful responses. Its fast and quick and dangerous. You say things you might not say. You forget the niceties at the beginning and get right to the point–which of course is fine with close friends, but not so good with those that don’t know you as well or who need the civility of starting a conversation a bit sooner.
3. Email is a one-way street. You communicate your concerns and your judgements, period. You may request their feedback, but what happened is an efficient, but one-way communication. If you raise concerns, they are left with no way to ask immediate questions, respond to your concerns, etc. So, they stew and then forward it on to someone else who might add fuel to the fire. Further, since you don’t get the benefit of seeing their reactions, you can be tempted to go on a bit longer than you would in person–and sound like a whiner.

Next time, pick up the phone and start the conversation in a more personal way. But, email is just so efficient, not messy, and tempting 😉 


Filed under Communication

5 responses to “Why you might not want to email your complaints

  1. I just had a nasty situation develop between one of our board members and I through email. Yikes. She was having a stessful time, sent out an emotionally charged email to all the board members and because I answered her first and in full, she interpreted my response in a bad way which was ludicrous, but still…

    It took me a week to get her to be willing to talk with me either by phone or in person (it ended up in person) and within five minutes all the drama was resolved. Oy Veh! Anyway, this is an excellent post and absolutely right on the money. 😀

  2. judi lemay-lusk

    phil, you are so correct! my past experience has told me to never do this (again!) and ron has been in my face countless times “THIS IS NOT FOR EMAIL!”

    the reasons you pointed out were good ones, and really do add a lot to our conversations with people.

  3. Tracey, your story emphasizes the point that when we read something we really think we know what the intent behind the words really is. Thanks for the reminder that we can really miss the mark.

  4. Judi, why is it that we are so forgetful? I’m sure tomorrow I’ll be tempted to do it…

  5. judi lemay-lusk

    why are we forgetful?? i like to use age as my handy-dandy excuse! but when that faiils, i think it’s because i just *have* to voice my opinion or thoughts and sometimes do not take into account the person who’s on the receiving end. after all, it *is* about me, isn’t it???

    and when it does become about ME, i have to realize it’s really about the cross and that’s where i have to go.

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