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When not to send e-mail


A good friend of mine wrote this article and I had to share it with you.

Abby Marks Beale is founder of The Corporate Educator, a professional speaking and training company, specializing in helping busy people work smarter, faster and just plain better. {{more}}

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Have you ever received an e-mail message that you thought could have been communicated in a better way? 400 Radio Shack (a US company) employees were laid off via an e-mail message. Does that seem right?

This situation got me thinking about all the times that sending e-mail is appropriate and more importantly, when it is NOT appropriate. Here are just a few situations at work I thought about:

•  If your boss has been away and you need to get his or her attention, sending e-mail probably won’t do it. They are sure to have a backlog and yours is just one in the crowd.

•  If you have a confidential question about your pay cheque, sending it over e-mail may get your question answered, but now it is possible for others to see your request if it is sent in error to someone else.

•  If you are upset about a new co-worker who is not pulling his or her weight, talking about it over e-mail to your other colleagues (also known as gossiping) may come back to haunt you. It is very easy for e-mail forwarding accidents to occur.

I have put together this starter list of times when e-mail is NOT appropriate, which I hope you will seriously consider as situations arise in your lives. Remember that e-mail is NOT as private as you think!


•  If you need to get someone’s attention about an urgent or pressing matter.

•  When describing a complicated procedure.

•  When you are angry.

•  For gossip.

•  For sending jokes and chain letters.

•  When you really want to resolve a conflict or misunderstanding.

•  When delivering bad news.

•  When you want to make a heartfelt apology.

• When typing, it takes you longer than making a phone call.

•  For anything you care that others might read.

Using e-mail for most other communications is adequate, but there is nothing like a personal phone call or a face-to- face conversation to help secure, solidify and build a working relationship.

Karen Hinds is “The Workplace Success Expert.” For a FREE SPECIAL REPORT on Avoiding Career Killers in the Workplace, send an email to

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