There is no doubt that e-mails are a powerful and useful tool in both our business and personal lives.   We can instantaneously send and receive information and documents anywhere in the world with just a click of the send button.   It is quick, easy and often sent in haste, and therein lies the problem.

As with much of today’s technology, e-mails can be impersonal and are often generated and sent without much reflection or forethought.   When regular mail was the only way to send a written communication, there was a process of hand writing or typing the letter, addressing the envelope and preparing it for the mail and, of course, actually mailing it.   I am sure that any of us who used to rely on just the mail, have experienced the situation where you wrote a stern or harsh letter in anger and then thought better of it before you actually put it the mail.   E-Mails do not have that cooling off period built into the process and are often sent in the heat of the moment.

I feel that too many people hide behind their e-mails.   It seems it is much easier to send a nasty or argumentative e-mail to someone then it would be to have the same conversation face to face with that person.  The disconnect of e-mails makes it easy for people to be brave and, sometimes, abusive.   This, of course, is often counterproductive since even though we get a rush from firing off our nasty e-mail it is usually regretted in time or, at the very least, just invites an equally nasty reply.

That brings me to the e-mail wars.   You know, when we engage in a long exchange of e-mails with someone that becomes increasingly angry and accusatory.   We are playing one-upmanship instead of trying to resolve the dispute.   I believe that if these same two people where in a room together it would be much more likely that they would find a way to resolve their differences.

I wish more people would meet or, at least, talk on the phone when there is a problem instead of venting by e-mail.