Email cowards are not afraid of email; they’re afraid of facing people.
Surely you know the type — the people who are too lazy or scared to tell you something to your face, so they email what is probably intended as constructive criticism, and end up alienating themselves and creating an unproductive stream of more messages explaining “what I really meant to say.” Don’t do it!
The problem is, the more you hide behind email, the harder it is to face people. And because these scaredy cats are forgetting how to disagree with people without being disagreeable, they take refuge ever more often behind your computer screen. It’s not a pretty picture, but it is a pretty common one.
That tendency, is great news for us “communication experts” who come to companies to help them retrain (remind) their employees how to talk to someone face to face. One strategy is to introduce “Email Free Fridays” where employees are encouraged (strongly) to talk to people either on the phone or in person, rather than emailing information.
Now that business is slow for many companies, it’s a great time to build up relationships for the future and email is NOT a tool for this task. Call someone to have lunch, or maybe just a coffee or tea.
And, as a refresher for you to send to those who need it, this is the formula for effective criticism:
1. Show sincere appreciation for this person.
2. Explain what needs to change and why, the actions and the consequences.
3. Show sincere appreciation for this person.
It’s quick and a lot less painful than exacerbating yet another email drama. If you’ve got something a bit negative to relate to someone, pick up the phone, or walk to their office next door and tell them. Nicely.