Don’t hide behind email

Many years ago, my grandmother asked me to explain “email” to her. Some of her younger friends were pestering her to get an email account so she could receive info about group meetings, bingo nights, etc. I dutifully explained to her that email was short for electronic mail and is a quick, easy, efficient way to send and receive messages. It was used for both work and personal messages. I boastfully bragged that I could sit at my desk all day long and not have to engage anyone face to face or on the phone. It was great! “Hmmmmmmmm,” she muttered, “sounds kind of lonely to me.” Whatever, I thought to myself.

Fast forward ten years and I have a resolution for 2011. No, I am not giving up on email or even reducing my use of it. My resolution is: I will try my best to avoid using email if I have to communicate disappointing or bad news to a client, prospect, candidate, colleague, or business partner. I will have the courage to pick up the phone or engage the person face to face. Why this resolution? Because I have been on the receiving end of these types of emails and not only am I sad about the communicated news, but I find myself disappointed that the person is hiding behind the non-confrontational nature of email. I may have some follow-up questions, I may want to express my frustration, I may want to ask why or how questions.

I realize my resolution is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to some of the negative aspects regarding our society’s ubiquitous use of technology; but it’s one small thing that irritates me and I want to change my behavior. I’m curious, do you sometimes hide behind email when you have to deliver bad news?

Happy New Year!

P.S. My other resolution for 2011 is to use more idioms in my daily interactions. Some of my favorites include: dime a dozen, sink a battleship, swing a dead cat, a blessing in disguise, blue moon, long in the tooth, pass the buck, slow as molasses in January, and three sheets to the wind.


137 responses to “Don’t hide behind email

  1. I really like that resolution to only deliver disappointing information face to face.

    The only way to grow in life is through spoonfuls of adversity and mistakes.

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  3. I find people are not confrontational by nature. It’s a consequence of having so many avenues of technological communication at your disposal. It made the hard things doable, yet the hard to swallow, more bitter. The younger generations are incredibly lucky to grow up with computers and the internet. You realize this once you attempt to explain the how-to’s to of a computer program to a person twice your age and seniority. Does technology empower or dumb down people? That is a question I grapple with on a daily basis.

    • I think it does both. And it’s up to the individual to use technology as a tool, rather than a crutch. Thank you for your comment!

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  5. I voted ‘No’ because I never have bad news to deliver. There was no email in 1974 and 1985 when my siblings in BC needed to be told of the deaths of my mother and father, respectiively, in UK.

    “…client, prospect, candidate, colleague, or business partner…” How amusing! You actually work do you? You must be one of these unfortunate young people. Keep up the tax-paying. Thanks.

    I had one job in the 1960s where a customer would come in the shop to be told that the furniture they had on order had not arrived. No problem. I got fed up and quit. Plenty of jobs back then.

    I hope this helps.

  6. In my personal life I don’t use email to convey bad news. But for my volunteer work or for business I almost prefer it so that I can convey the news exactly and have a trail. Thankfully the bad news is never “Your Mom Died” sort of stuff, but it is the “prices will need to be higher than quoted” variety.

    • I’ve found that a follow-up email is better for a paper trail than a straight email.

      Then again, I worked at a company that neither had email nor internet, too…

  7. Behind an e-mail, behind an SMS…

  8. When I was working in the mental health field in Rural Colorado, the Community Mental Health Center began to use E-mail for virtually all interactions in the name of “efficiency.” I soon discovered that E-mail was an actual impediment to communication because it reduced interations to Serial Monologues and rather then increasing efficiency simple communications became reduced to waiting for E-mails responses. Quite often tasks that should have been a two minute phone call became a series of E-mails over a period of days. I could go on …

  9. Hi, I’m a young worker and I feel quite the same feeling you feel. It’s eerie to admit that I voted Yes in your poll, because sometimes I had to convey bad news. However, in my case, I am in long distance relationship, so it is obligatory for me to deliver messages and personal thoughts to my boyfriend by emails. Nevertheless, it may sound frustrating that you have to receive bad news by email, too, for example, I was rejected for a job vacancy by a company, and I did not get the direct communication for reasoning. I got it just by email, so I caught up with them by follow-up emails.

  10. I have done this once, but it was to a family member. Sometimes, not often, you just have to write it out to avoid interruptions and arguing.

    Work-wise, have not had to do this.

  11. Thanks for the insight and laughs. “swing a dead cat” is hilarious. I hope you find a way to use it soon.

  12. Solid resolution,
    E-mail is convenient, fast, and helpful, but we all need to remember that behind all those “1’s”, and “0’s” that there are human eyes interpreting all this data. Human eyes that can shed a tear…
    Good, timely post,


  13. I’ve worked as an email support for an online company and customers are hardly impressed with this type of communication. For one thing, it requires some back-and-forth exchanges that often frustrate both parties. I rarely use email to ‘write’ or ‘communicate’ with friends. I find it very impersonal. I prefer the long-hand writing, though I can’t remember the last time I sent mail. 😉

  14. I totally agree with you about the use of emails at avoiding confrontation. I believe that with the technology today, we can compress our usage time into smaller and smaller amounts of time, so that we can become efficient with dealing with the most of our junk emails.
    However, like you said, its extremely important to be sensitive to the nature of some of our emails that we do send, for the receiving end, like you said, may feel lonely or left out by such a communication.
    For me though, my parents are in another country without direct access to a phone, my brother is across the planet without a phone, so it makes it really great and efficient to stay in touch with them through emails.
    I really do enjoy your point on being conscious about what types of messages we use for email, and decide if its the best way to convey it.

  15. L. Klonsky aka Mom's Crayon

    I voted “no” but it all depends on relationship. When I recently resigned from a long-distance volunteer job, I did it remotely because I was never in that firm’s area and it would have been very difficult to see the people I needed to see. Had I been employed for money, I would definitely have gone up there. But in personal relationships, face-to-face is the way to go. It’s just the decent thing to do.

    • I’m sure I will stumble from time to time in my resolution this year – there may be pressing issues, or as with you a long-distance, remote situations. It’s my hope that my colleagues, clients, friends, etc, will appreciate my efforts and maybe adopt it for themselves. Thanks for your comment!

  16. I may have to adopt this as a resolution. A good chunk of my job is delivering bad news to people and it’s usually easier to do so via email but it doesn’t always help customer relations.

  17. I notice that email is the BEST way for one of my friends to ask me for something lol. Whenever she needs something, instead of calling, she will email me to ask… I may do this sometimes lol I think it’s way easier.

  18. I love the idioms…I love long in the tooth…you know what it means right, that as you get older your gums recede thus your teeth get longer. I always knew it meant you got older didn’t get the true meaning the whole time…kind of sad!
    Good post!

    • Love that one too! The Gen Ys (and Zs) are definitely missing out on some of the whimsical and historical aspects of the English language.

  19. The only way to communicate almost at the speed of light. You can quietly ponder over content too. But it can create wrong communications which are sometimes best solved through personal talk. On an e-mail I can write, ” Hey! How are you doing?” and add an emoticon. But nothing to beat a warm personal voice that can laugh and cheer up. We can’t escape e-communications, I guess. I don’t know whether cold selfishness makes e-comm. popular or e-comm makes people more selfish-but the ‘e’ is here to stay on planet earth.

  20. Makes life quicker. Except that when you add lol it’s not as good as the natural laughter that’s makes life feel better.

  21. Great post! Also collect idioms…more of the southern variety.

  22. Great post. And I agree with Kenosis23, above. When the ping pong of email gets really intense, picking up the phone can be a quicker and more efficient method of communication.

  23. How about as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs?

    I don’t hide behind e-mail, but I do hide behind texts sometimes. My cell-phone is my shield.


  24. I agree. Cyberworld is cool but we should go back to the real world sometimes.

  25. This is a big deal. I work in mortgage banking and often have to deliver frustrating news to people. If at all possible, I never use email to do this. Those I work with/for deserve this attention reagrdlesss of how hard the call may be on my part. An email gives them no opportunity to respond, and after irritating news, we all need the chance to vent and ask follow-up questions that help us process the news. If I need a “paper” trail, I’ll send an email afterwards, but everyone I work with gets personal attention when the news is good or bad.

  26. Congrats on getting Freshly Pressed!! Great post because it is sad but true. For the non-confrontational or harried amongst us, email gives us a painless way to lower the boom. But just because we can doesn’t mean that we should. I think I may adopt your resolution. 🙂

    Oh and 3 sheets to the wind is my personal fave! lol

  27. I like. I like discussing matters like these in person… it seems less heartless.

  28. Loved that post! I am guilty and confessed so on your poll. It’s a lot easier, of course, to deliver bad news to colleagues via e-mail. I would also argue, though, that doing so helps me think about what I am about to say. I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing, so it’s easier to write and proofread an e-mail to make sure it’s tactful and diplomatic.

    That’s how I rationalize it, anyway. 😉

  29. good post. communication is not only email, but a lot more.!

  30. I view email as a courtesy. It’s a way of saying, “Read this and get back to me when you want. Or not. It’s up to you. Do it at the time of your choosing and when it is convenient. You don’t have to drop whatever you’re doing when I call and deal with it at that exact moment.” Wow. That is very thoughtful. Plus, if done correctly, email can speed communication by eliminating a lot of the boring and irrelevant chit chat. (That’s also a plus with text messaging.)

    Feeling lonely? Personally I like that, too. 🙂

  31. i first thought you were going to talk about another way to hold the email up like a shield. at work (years back for me, but i’m sure it’s still going) people seem to have forgotten, that while email is good for some communications, others have to be made in person or at least by phone, ie if they require immediate action. not everybody works all day with their head in the inbox! I don’t know how many times I heard “but I wrote you an EMAIL about it” when obviously that was more to cover their own a## than to actually do something about the situation.
    this said, your point is a good one too.
    and how odd you want to use MORE idioms, it think there is people that could really do with less.. lol

  32. I do it. All the time. Especially when I’m angry with my hubby 🙂

  33. I find that the most difficult part of delivering bad news by e-mail is that I have to carefully choose my words, since there is no context of body language or vocal inflection. When I reread the words, I’m convinced that something matter-of-fact comes off harsh or indifferent. Ironically, there may be even more room for misunderstanding with the written word than with face-to-face conversation. I think many people believe just having a paper trail is enough. Unless words are chosen with serious thought, however, the paper trail could come back to bite.

    • I realized that delivering bad news in person allows me to “call an audible”, ie. change my message, change my tactic, pause, etc…all becasue I am able to see (or hear) the effect of my news. From body language, a change in voice, facial expressions, etc. Maybe I need to throttle up or down on the empathy part of delivering the news. Can’t be done via email…

  34. Voted ‘No’ because I’m like Cy Quick (1st comment above). The screaming electron wasn’t around back in the Sixties and Seventies in the UK then, so I grew up and got used to delivering ANY kind of bad news in person. In the long run, it’s better that way because it doesn’t cause resentment.

    If the people are far away, I’d just ring them international and then follow up with a more-detailed email. But that’s just me. Your mileage may vary.

    Idioms? Forget them. Most idioms are for use in bad times. Not many people know that. (Well, maybe your right, if you have a lot of bad news to deliver.)

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. Good one.

    • What about: a breath of fresh air, wouldn’t hurt a fly, a lot of spunk, from the get-go, you’re an angel, walking on air. Give up idioms? Never! Thanks for your congrats and your comment!

  35. I constantly hide behind email at work, whatever the news. Doesn’t matter. I mean, who wants to actually deal with people?? Seriously though, when dealing with customers, a paper trail is not a bad thing.

  36. Electronic communication can be a bad idea for many important conversations. You hear your own voice when writing, but the reader hears theirs. We all know much of what we say is in our tone and you can’t write tone, (though I am still waiting for that “sarcasm” font to be invented, I could really use that one).
    Good resolution.

    • Thanks! I recall reading someting about a “Sarc Mark”. Type of emoticon. Not sure if it’s caught on or not.

  37. I actually find email is good way to deliver bad news, so people receiving it can have a moment to digest it before reacting… but it would be better if they can be given the option to discuss about it later (via email or face-to-face).

  38. Don’t forget salt of the earth, beat a dead horse, skin a cat, a few beers short of a six pack, not the sharpest tool in the shed, not the brightest crayon in the box, turn in your spoon, raise the dead, nails in the coffin, skeletons in the closet, ace in the hole, cobwebs in the attic, turn over a new leaf, chasing rainbows, castles in the sky, pie in the sky, like water off a duck’s back, etc. Have fun discovering all the really old cryptic ones that are rarely used anymore too!

  39. Another virtual monkey wrench in the e-mail works is the fact that it comes completely free of nonverbal cues. So any type of news — good, bad, indifferent — can be read with complete inaccuracy, all dependent on the recipient’s mood.

    Gotta love that. (And that was meant to be read in a facetious tone, fyi).


  40. Yeah, I never hide behind email to deliver bad news but that is because I have strong people skills. People lack that due to the advances in technology and actually getting worst for the next generation because things are getting to a point where you never have to see the person’s face. Our generation and previous generations may not be so quick to trust not seeing someone’s face, but children are being conditioned with the perception of that being the norm. It’s pretty scary when you think about it, welcome to the future! I,ROBOT!!!! LOL. JK.

  41. I don’t really hide behind email when I have to deliver bad news, but I don’t really hide behind email when the news is good either. I’m a big fan of face-to-face interaction, and I’ve always felt that if the person is just a phone call away (even if AT&T will charge me a thousand dollars for that call) why not pick up the cell and give them a call to let them know? It feels nice to hear someone speaking to you on the other end of the line, and if the news is good, you can actually hear the smile in their voice. If the news is bad, you can hear the disappointment, but at least they know you’re on the other end of the line for them to talk to.
    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!
    Ashley, aka TheEverydayMuser

  42. This is a great goal. Too often I find myself hiding behind e-mail, or being annoyed when others do it. Think of how much more productive and nice we’d all be if we were just honest with each other in person. What a concept!

  43. Don’t share bad news Only share good ones !

  44. Delivering bad news through email or text message is a horrible idea. It is better to deliver it face to face. I admire the resolution not to hide behind email or text.

  45. I loved this idea. I am guilty of using email to communicate bad news. Will curtail this and try to reach out the people. Thanks.

  46. Congratulations. I like the thought of not hiding behind email.

  47. I’ve voted “No” as I prefer postponing my bad news communication instead of using emails to this purpose. Postponing my verbal negative communication helps me get up the courage to do it and avoids at the same time such a rough way of using emails which are – undoubtedly – an outstanding means of communication.

  48. I hide behind email and text on a regular basis. When you are faceless, there is no reason to be shy.

  49. This is why I don’t allow anon comments on my blog….

  50. Great post…it’s so true

  51. When the time comes to give someone bad news – look at the situation from the intended recipient’s point of view. How would you feel if you were given bad news in a certain way? I find this approach the most appropriate as you can honestly show empathy and sympathy if necessary.

  52. Person to person communication allows the opportunity for interaction thus decreasing the possibility of a misunderstanding. Good post!

  53. I think your resolution is a great idea. The use of email has changed the way we communicate, and for the most part, for the better. Although many people abuse the use of email, and like you stated, “hide behind it”, it shouldn’t be viewed negatively. There will always be the people that take everything too far, do the minimal at work, and choose whatever method is easiest. Email isn’t going anywhere. It’s very plausible that you’re choosing to use email for the better. Great post.

  54. Sometimes when I’m using emails, I feel like being a machine that hardly know feeling. It maybe a computer we are communicating with, not the people.

  55. My favorite voicemail feature is the “press 8 to reply to message.” It gives me the ability to acknowledge and respond to a missed phone call without having to actually talk to the person. Ya, I avoid, but I think it is better than swinging a dead cat.

  56. I want to say thank you very much for the job you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same top work from you down the road as well.

  57. I voted yes because I have hidden behind email in the past, mostly when dealing with difficult people who freak out during confrontations. In retrospect, I kind of regret it and don’t plan to do it again. It shows more respect to the person when you take the time to address them face-to-face over something you know will upset them. Good resolution!

  58. Hell, I use email to hide whether the news is good, bad or neutral! Its a great tool for hermits and introverts.

  59. Never hide behind my e-mails……just post a different picture of myself from 1955……cuts down on the horror effect of what I look like today. : )

  60. I love articles that make me really think about how I feel about a topic. Your blog achieved that. So thank you for sharing.

    I guess one could interpret sending and replying to emails as avoiding emotions, confrontation, relationships, life. But for the most part I see this type of technology as a tool of freedom to reach out, express myself, where I can take as long as I need to reflect, whether the news is good, bad, happy, or sad, before replying in a positive way.

    Our language has millions of words that express just about every sentiment under the sun. Whether talking face to face, on the phone, in a letter, or by email, we choose to express feelings and thoughts with words. Granted body language and tone do play a great part in conveying our intent. Which only means taking that much more care in emails with the words we choose and the context in which we express them. 🙂

  61. Delivering bad or disappointing news via email is a form of cowardice, in my opinion, like a mass email to 100 workers saying “you’ve been laid off, report to HR.” People use email because it places a lot of distance between the senser and the receiver, enabling the sender to engage in cognitive dissonance and pretend it never happened.

  62. i think it’s important to use e-mail so that you have documentation that the communication did take place. for me, i like to discuss things on the phone and in person then follow up with an e-mail summarizing the conversation that took place. this has several functions: it allows both parties to show their interpretations of the conversation and clarify any misunderstanding; it shows consideration on your part that you are following up; and it protects you in the future in case you need proof that you acted responsibly and proof of exactly what each party said.

  63. Pingback: Richard writes: Don’t hide behind email [or text messages] « The Vagabond Lounge

  64. As I job hunt in desperation for the second year in a row, I find that companies love e-mail for this purpose exactly. They apparently don’t want to communicate with applicants. They’re setting up emotional distance and building deliberate obstacles. As the American economy remains terrible (at least for folks like me), it’s clear that technology is being used as a weapon in the unnecessary war between employers and potential employees. It’s too easy to select a candidate out of faceless applicants and dismiss the rest. Is it any wonder there’s so much turnover?

    But in bitterness, I digress. As powerful as internet communication is, even on a personal level, it’s far too often used dismissively. I’ve done it myself.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, James. The topic you touched upon is so important for organizations: their brand in the candidate community. Unfortunately, it’s often overlooked. Good luck in your job hunt and if you want to pursue opps in Vancouver, BC….drop us a line.

  65. You can see the allure of sending bad news over email to avoid the look in the recipient’s eyes.
    A good friend recently has engaged me in a long email discussion over the merits of our friendship, whereas we see each other face to face everyday. It’s annoying to me that she’s chosen this way of communicating her deepest feelings, yet when we see each other in person she talks about the weather.
    Oh well, I guess there is more than one way to skin a cat.

  66. asliverthatisheratleast

    I still email…a lot and I like to think I take the thought and time to type in email what I would otherwise write by hand. In tough sitiuations ~sometimes~ the right words write themselves. A phone or face to face conversation can be a comfortable/ more intimate follow-up to an otherwise ‘uncomfortable’ email.

  67. It is as I just said to a friend… with the technology of today, people have lost the ability to be patient. And with not having a lot of patience, people stop thinking that the person on the other side of the message is infact a human being.

    Lovely post!!!!

  68. Gainuxxio Zaevan-Aaidon

    I like some of the advancements of the tech era, but I will admit that people have sort of lost their ability to communicate face to face, whether it is bad news or something heartfelt. I believe that we are relying too much on technology when it comes to our efforts at communicating with each other.

    • I wonder if Apple’s “Facetime” (and others) will bring back some of the face to face interactions we’ve lost through email and texts.

  69. I use e-mail a lot on a daily basis. Week-ends, I try not to but this is hard when I’m handling clients who have a marked time difference from where I stay. So their Friday e-mails became my Saturday homework! Anyway, I told myself that I always have a choice to reply immediately or not. Save those which are urgent, I usually start my e-mail reply on Monday mornings. For e-mails, I usually don’t use it to discuss issues, especially complex ones. E-mail to me is more of a medium for information dissemination/sharing rather than discussion. For discussion, breaking of good or bad news, I go for the phone. Actually for bad news, a phone call works best for me as it allows me to also read the response of the other party. And also since it is bad news, I suppose lending a ear to the other person is the least I could do.

  70. Your post reminds me of a commercial on TV. This girl is having lunch with her boyfriend and he gets a text that she is breaking up with him. I have seen people standing right beside each other texting to each other, instead of talking to each other. Why don’t they just talk and put down their phones.

  71. The e-mail is a good and fast fast medium of communication, however it lacks the emotions and the connect required in any relationship be it personal, external or bureaucratic.
    Certain things require a personal touch no matter what. 😀

  72. During a job as nanny for twins, one of the twins began telling me, in German, “I don’t like that you are black, all is black, your hair, your feet!” Maintaining a a pedagogical perspective, I tenderly suggested to the parents that multicultural books should be included in the twin’s library in addition to multi ethnic dolls, museum visits, etcetera.
    I was fired by telephone.
    Some aspects of life are simply uncomfortable for folk.
    They need a buffer.

    *Because I had to return the key and pick up my last payment, I was able to diplomatically address the incorrectness of the process. But the more significant issue concerning the twin’s sudden aversion to black people(whether this issue arose alone or from another source) was simply too delicate for the Mother to even approach.

  73. Hmm. I do tend to find that if I use email I can get my story right, and run it past colleagues. there is always a danger of misinterpretation of messages if I just launch into a call.

    My policy is emal first, give them a bit of time and follow up with a call.

  74. Not only negative news but positive news as well, we all suffer from lack of interactions with people these days. I rely a lot on text messages and chats in communicating with my friends and most of them live abroad! Sometimes I just miss talking to them face to face . I worry about the coming years and their means of communication. I don’t want us to end up like robots !

  75. This isn’t specifically about email but is kind of in the same vein… I only JUST realised it was my mother-in-law’s birthday today because I logged into Facebook. It should be noted here that she is staying with us for the weekend and has been sat in the lounge with me all morning. Why has it taken FB to remind me? I fear I have become far too reliant on technology and have lost touch with reality 😦

    • Ye-yikes! Glad you “remembered” and I hope you shared a nice Sunday together. Happy Birthday to your mother-in-law! 🙂

  76. I too feel e-mail never to replace personal connections…and especially never for negative content whatsoever.
    Does however make you more efficient to communicate any time of day or night when you have the time to do so..not always possible with a phone call.
    But yes – often misused. Pity.

  77. Great post!
    When delivering bad news, it’s hard to communicate through email because the recipient of the message may blow it out of proportion and react inappropriately. That’s because even if we have good intentions in writing that email, since the other person doesn’t see our facial expression and body language, they may not receive and respond to the message well.


  78. Well, It takes a lot …I mean it ..A LOT OF patience and I don’t see much of that now a days in people & in me as well.

    anyway you written some thing really good. Keep writing.

  79. FitnessMotivator

    I really like the idea of more face-to-face communication. My only worry about only delivering bad news in person (or on the phone) is that you might condition people to associate your presence or your voice with bad news. From a neurological stand point only giving goods news in person would be better since it’d condition people to associate your presence with positive news. I can, however, see how the fact that the receiver feels more comfortable is a huge benefit.

  80. emailing can be an ineffective form of communicating when the phone is so much better for work.

  81. this is a really good article. we no longer communicate with letters or talking on the phone. now its texting, IMing, or emailing. i think you made a good point in your post. congrats on being on freshly pressed!

  82. I actually wrote a version of this very resolution into my FY2011 goal documents at work. I work in a customer facing position, and in my new position, I was finding it hard to build the kind of rapport I wanted with my customers.

    I immediately noticed a difference in how information was received by my customers. Instead of replying with scathing emails to the bad news letter, we can actually hold a conversation. I can give them a deeper explanation of the issues, answer their questions immediately, and allow them to see that I am sincere in my apologies.

    It’s amazing the difference just picking up the phone has made in my relationships with my customers.

    • I’m glad to hear you have a similar goal for this year! You’ve hit the nail on the head with the phrase, “It’s amazing the difference…” Thanks for sharing!

  83. This is a GREAT resolution.

    I stopped delivering bad news via email several years ago. If at all possible I get up and walk to the person’s desk or office. I never call them to mine unless it’s a group announcement (which could go either way.) If I can’t talk to people face to face (distance, etc) then I will call.

    Personal relationship kinds of “bad news” are usually a hybrid of face to face/phone/email. Sometimes you need to sit behind the words and be thoughtful when answering the “why” questions because you are still so smacking mad you don’t trust yourself not to throw something if face to face.

  84. famouslycanadian

    Good post for sure!

  85. I’m with you. Email is quick and inefficient, but it’s also incredibly impersonal, somewhat cowardly, and easy to misread. I much prefer face-to-face conversations, or even telephone calls or hand-written snail mail letters. Call me crazy, but I wish my generation wouldn’t be quite so tech-savvy or tech-dependent!

  86. A great resolution! The only way to really commmunicate fully is to look people in the eye. Then and only then does both the teller and the told get the full message.

  87. I like sending email because it gives the person time to think about what they are going to write rather than saying the first thing that pops into their head.

  88. If you’d like an idiom with a distinctly Australian flavour: “Tie me kangaroo down sport” is a good one to express when something big occurs. It always gets a grin in Oz. I think it will receive collective confusion in the US.
    Enjoyed your blog.

  89. I think there needs to be some balance. If I have a simple print job and my contract requires me to get 3 quotes, I get my three quotes, weigh the pros and cons, and then send a quick email to the 2 “losers” just to let them know we’re going elsewhere. If, however, I had a verbal agreement with a printer for a big job, but then had to cancel it, I would pick up the phone (usually).

    With *all* forms of communication, you need to think “how would my audience want to receive this information?” It might be a good place to start by thinking how you would like it, but everyone is different and a good communicator values and respects the audience above all.

  90. Hiding behind email has become so commonplace and it’s so cowardly as well. Let’s face it, if you can’t tell someone something important to their face you have some wimp issues going on.

  91. Our #1 agenda from any client old, new, potential is to get either one of two things: Phone Call – then a physical meeting :). Unfortunately – a lot of people view that as forcing sales so they are oddly committed to email until they are ready to make any kind of commitments whatsoever. We view as just “getting to know you” thats all. Best of luck with your resolution!!!

  92. Smail, email. It doesn’t matter; have to get out into the open and show your face. My glass mask of shyness is begining to come off. :-O

  93. For bad news, I would also at least call the client. I always make sure to be prepared when I call to talk about options and next steps, etc., but I’ve found that people usually react better when I call and also appreciate it if they can tell I’ve thought about a plan on how to resolve the problem or bad situation. However, I would also follow up with an email to memorialize the discussion so that it was always clear who was responsible for any follow up tasks and what the deadlines were. Good luck fulfilling this resolution!

  94. I totally agree with you… no more hiding begind emails!
    I’m guilty of it when it comes to dating!!!
    ~ abbie ~

  95. Sometimes you just don’t know what to tell a person who is grieving.. They may take the phone. Else a relative may. But what do you tell them? How can we even begin to understand the loss that they are facing?
    Sometimes words are just not enough.

  96. Interesting post.
    I generally don’t do that but I have noticed I do get escapist when I have to break bad news: like I avoid making that call or paying that visit… I’ll go the rectification way.

  97. Good one. Really true sometimes we try to hide ourselves behind the mails as we are scared that how the other person will react.

  98. I’m only 18 so I don’t have many experiences with delivering bad news aside from the odd high school break ups. So I don’t really have much of an input on this however I do like the post comments and express my opinion.

    The thing with text based conversation, whether it be an e-mail, IM or something that’s not electronic, like a letter is that the receiving end is only getting text. No gestures, facial expression, tone of voice etc. so what they perceive can be completely different to what the sender intended. However, with that said… does it really matter? This is just me (maybe because i’m in generation z, otherwise known as the net generation) but bad news is bad news. Just my two cents

  99. sorry, i meant generation y.

  100. I think this is a great point of view, and a great resolution.

    However, often a conversation would need to be backed up by a mail, just to have something in writing. I draft the mail, then call the person, talk to them and then I tell them I will confirm by mail.

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  101. its such a good resolution but do you think a doctor would not prefer to be telling his ailing patients or families of dead patients the bad news, rather than facing the to say it.You know bad news holds emotions with it. I really prefer the mail but am not against it if you can deal with it facing it.

  102. I feel like everyone hides behind technology way too much. Being too lazy to talk to a person, so they text instead… and yeah, it’s great that you are trying to stop hiding behind email and meet with a person face to face. That’s always the best way to tell someone bad news, I think.

    Good luck with your resolution. I don’t think I have an issue with this but I am glad you are making a goal for yourself! 🙂

  103. Having just delivered bad news, I have to say that I really dislike that I went the email route, but then I also realized that the reason I went with the email route was because I just don’t have it in me to deal with theatrics or having every words that I’m saying cut off. I had something very specific to say and I wanted to get it out without interruption. I did offer a face-to-face discussion at the end of the email, because I think it’s important and should be dealt with in person–well the gory details aspect of it.

    In general, I do believe that face-to-face is the best way to go in ALL cases.

  104. Shockingly- at times i think i have forgotten how to communicate. Okay, not that bad….. but i would rather send a mail to most people than call. I actually hate speaking on the phone…. Imagine what my daughter will be like in 15 years time. very sad.
    I think your New Year’s Resolution is marvelous.
    Congrats on being freshly pressed!!

  105. i think we also use email as a way of being lazy. Many times we know we can accomplish something but we dread speaking to the person, so instead we’ll email, knowing full well that it’ll be more unlikely for the task at hand to get done by email as opposed to picking up a phone.

  106. Great article! I was thinking along these lines this morning. Too much technology and not enough real communication. Some how a text message saying Happy Birthday is not the same as hearing the person’s voice. I especially like old fashioned letters with the hint of perfume. Guess I should have called you and told you this.

  107. Disappointing news is what I use email for, not so much bad news. By disappointing I meant things like “Oh no, I can’t join you and your boyfriend for dinner” and not “I accidentally ran over your cat.”

  108. I voted no, but email is still great.

  109. Pingback: Don’t hide behind email (via WOW. FUN. PEOPLE.) « sandraarmstrongphotography

  110. เสื้อผ้าแฟชั่น

    Good luck with your resolution. I don’t think I have an issue with this but I am glad you are making a goal for yourself!

  111. Pingback: Top 6 McNak Blog posts of 2011 | WOW. FUN. PEOPLE.

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