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This is email advice that really NEEDS YELLING ABOUT. This one error causes more grief than any other. Yelling is nothing by comparison.

This unfortunate use of email causes more relationship strain, hurt feelings and lost business than anything else in today’s communication. It’s a strong enough reason to make you reconsider email except in narrow circumstances.

Email is only for routine communication about noncontentious issues. Exchanging facts is a good use of email. Expressing interest in an idea won’t get you into trouble. Saying thank you and congratulations are also safe, if much weaker by email.

What doesn’t come off at all on email is being critical, disappointed or angry. Even joking about these things is dangerous. If you have a complaint, don’t make it on email.

If you’re trying for “constructive criticism”, (an oxymoron if there ever were one) don’t bother. Regardless of your actual sentiment, email is an unemotional, uncaring, unsupportive communication monster. Forget the emoticons to dull the effect. Winking on email is quickly forgotten and people will interpret you as harshly as possible. There is little room for humor or sarcasm either. And angry emails hurt hard and fast and are angry forever.

Want to be misconstrued? Use email. Readers easily get the wrong idea about your intentions. What could be easily an off-handed comment in person or even on the phone, easily can be blown all out of proportion.

That old communication study about the three ways we communicate shows quickly why there is so much danger. If just 7% of communication comes from words, 38% from tone of voice and 55% from body language, what chance do you have with just a few images on a screen? Think about it – 93% of what you want to say doesn’t happen. Face to face, it’s not what you say it’s how you say it. With email… it’s JUST WHAT YOU WRITE.

And, don’t give me the action about “That’s not what I meant.” When you communicate, it’s up to you to be understood. Be very careful when you use email and you’ll improve your results.

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